How difficult is it to be nice?

I was travelling by Spice jet recently. Honestly, its not one of my favourite airlines as they have a general reputation of being delayed especially in the Vizag – Bangalore sector. But then, since I didn’t have any choice (there are no other evening flights from Vizag to Bangalore) I was forced to take it .

I reached in time to find the girl behind the counter having a fairly animated discussion with another colleague of hers. I waited patiently but at the end of close to 7 minutes (though it seemed a lot longer) I lost my patience and told them that they should probably have the conversation later. The colleague had the audacity to tell me that it wasn’t a personal discussion.I obviously said that I didn’t really care about what they were expecting and that all I was expecting was for some courtesy when you knew someone was waiting .How difficult is it to make eye contact, indicate that they will attend to me soon, just acknowledge my presence. Not looking at me and talking continuously was outright rude. Some of the first few lessons that they teach you in Customer service, I would expect The girl behind the counter started apologizing and the guy walked away Anyway finally at the end of it I was allotted a seat on the last row. I cant say it was intentional but I cant say it wasn’t either!

The last row is not the most popular one as you would know but thankfully the person in front of me had the decency not to push back his seat. Another thing I have never understood. You know how cramped these rows can be and it takes basic common sense and a little bit of courtesy not to push back your seat (all the way) so that the one behind you is not inconvenienced, but the number of times people do this to hapless passengers is unbelievable.

It was a late flight and the other problem with being on the last row is that food gets served to you at the very end. I was starved and the magazine spoke about some really nice sandwiches. Finally the steward came by and I told him that I was starved and asked him what was available and he said there was biryani, rice and paneer and rice and kofta (well basically some rice & curry combos) and I was like, Do you have sandwiches? and He says I’m really sorry but we only had a few and they just got sold out (since I was in the last row and I get served last remember).

So I said ‘Naa not in the mood for rice, what beverages do you have? and he goes ‘Sprite, Pepsi and Lime tea’. And I told him that its alright and maybe I’d just go back to sleep.

This is when this guy says ‘ can I offer you some juice, but its staff juice ‘. I was like wow. That’s exactly what I wanted. Not some shitty aerated drinks. So off he goes and gets me this nice big glass of juice lots of ice and a big smile on his face. I asked him how much and he said its juice meant for the crew so he couldn’t charge me for it. Now what makes him like that? He goes out of the way to make me happy, he is totally customer centric, cares for the customer and has this big smile on his face all the time.

What do you attribute this behaviour to, kind of completely opposite to the ground staff who I had earlier interacted with. Training, attitude, personality what is it? More importantly is one born like that or is it an acquired trait. I have heard that each one of us is a sum of all our experiences  Tweet this
So I got thinking about what made him do that. It was a very nice gesture indeed but he didn’t really have to go out of the way. It’s not like he had to take a dozen approvals or jump off the plane to do what he did. So the others should be doing it too. But I am fairly sure they wouldn’t be. To be fair to them they didn’t have to either.

I am sure offering staff juice to a passenger is not something that would have been in the training manual. Smile, empathise and offer alternatives would have been taught. But this particular guy (I figured later that his name is Harsh) went out of the way to make me happy. So what is it that makes him go the extra mile? And again is it trainable?

Over breakfast I discussed this whole experience with my wife who had a fairly simple explanation. Harsh is just a ‘nice’ guy. And you can’t train someone to be nice. It has to come naturally. She added look at Tendulkar, Federer and Messi. Great guys probably the best in the world at what they do but basically they are nice guys which is why you like them. Their coach wouldn’t have taught them to be nice. That’s something that you are either born with or experience teaches you.

So how difficult is it to be nice? Why is that only a small percentage of people seem to be nice when it’s so easy and simple.

I was driving to Mysore and stopped by a basic dosa, idli place for breakfast. Fairly simple menu and the waiter doesn’t have much to do. All he had to do was smile, be nice and he would make the extra 10 bucks as a tip. Simple. But instead he chose to be grumpy, pissed off and very unfriendly. Not just with me but with everyone around. I just couldn’t understand it. How difficult is it to smile especially when you know that it could help you make a little extra money? 

If you look at the corporate world how difficult is it for Managers to be nice to their team members. Must be a lot more easier to get them to perform by being nice to them.

What am I missing? Seriously how difficult is it really to be nice to people around you?? It doesn’t take extra effort, doesn’t take a lot of time, doesn’t cost money but somehow people just don’t seem to make that effort.

How difficult is it to be nice




Going back to my story about Harsh, I was browsing through the inflight magazine and he was there on the cover, smiling back at me . Wow I just met a celebrity . 🙂