Just be nice, it works wonders

By JAMES PHILLIPS,

I have a simple saying that is one of the corner stones of my principals and personality when it comes to interacting with people. I don’t recall where I first heard this saying and I don’t recall from whom or where it came, but these words have had a profound impact on my life since hearing them almost two decades ago. “Attitude is a choice,” four simple words put together to create very sound advice which can be used in any situation if you understand.

I first heard this in my early 20s when I was full of confidence and over-flowing with youthful ignorance, but this simple saying struck a chord within me and has continued to resonate every second of every day since. I believe this means to be respectful to everyone always — and also — just be nice. To me this smidgen of advice has been invaluable and has served me tremendously well in both my personal and professional life. 

Everyone truly enjoys being recognized and sincerely appreciated, even if it is just for a few moments. It’s a proven fact that when you are polite, courteous and friendly while interacting with others you feel much better about yourself. Common sense suggests that we have the ability to have a wonderfully positive impact on ourselves and everyone around us, and all it takes are simple considerate gestures that show appreciation for each another. Society has changed a whole lot over the last half-century and civility is not near as common as it was in the past.

A good attitude, politeness, respect and good manners are not practiced as often these days which is just disheartening. Having the ability to make someone smile or just brightening their day is very uplifting for both you and them. It’s so refreshing when a simple gesture or kind words bring a smile upon someone’s face, and no matter what is going on it makes their day better. Even if it’s only for a few seconds, having the ability to make someone’s day better has lasting effects.

My family, especially my father, believed that learning respect and good manners was just as important as learning to feed yourself. The way he raised me, yes ma’ams, yes sirs, pleases and thank yous were taught to be used without fail and as the law, not just suggested good manners. When I would forget my manners my father would immediately correct me because those were his pet-peeves.

It did not matter where I was or what I was doing, when I failed to use the above-mentioned magic words, or if I answered any question with a “yes”, “no” or “uh-huh” he heard it, and seemed to appear from nowhere. I would either hear a blatantly exaggerated clearing of his throat, or I would be on the receiving end of a reminder smack to the back of my noggin.

I swore, and still believe, that my dad had super-human hearing and that his hand had the innate ability to instantaneously reach the back of my head from anywhere within ear-shot. My dad always explained his swift corrective action as “knocking a little sense into me.”

I must say, I sure do miss those reminder smacks along with everything about him. I cannot count the number of times I have looked up into the sky and quietly thanked him for teaching me respect and good manners.

When it comes to dealing with people I adhere to a very simple approach. I’m always nice, polite and I give everyone the respect they have either earned or deserve. If you treat other people in this manner it will almost always be reciprocated right back to you.

Everything that is going on in your life, whether it’s be good or bad, has absolutely no bearing on the attitude you choose to have. I will never be able to control what other people do and say, or how they treat me, but I do control how I approach each day and how I treat the people I’m fortunate enough to meet. My attitude is always a choice and I choose to have a great attitude.