Maybe being nice is not the icing on the cake but the cake itself.
When I lived in the Netherlands, there were two valid grounds for firing a worker who worked well. 1. The job had become redundant. That meant you could not hire someone else (younger, cheaper, sexier) for the same work! 2. Spoiling the sphere at work. Really. Employers and employees were beholden to being decent with each other. You didn’t have to love each other or even agree (Asking subordinates for their opinion was the normal course of action.), but respect for the person was a must. My boss, leaving for the rest of the week, would say: “I leave the whole firm to you and have a pleasant weekend.” One reason why being friendly is so important there is that the Dutch are brutally honest, to the point that others sometimes think it’s rude. This now has further evolved. Screaming at personnel is now pure abuse (‘grensoverschrijdend gedrag’ = boundary violations) and costs people their jobs! Being merely human is no excuse.
I worked for American employers. One was absolutely wonderful. What a beautiful person. Laidback, friendly. But all the others were like slave drivers, and probably for a ‘good’ historical reason. Slavery has ended in the US, but the mentality did not. As a worker, you should feel grateful that he gave you the job because he could (and might) give it to someone else whenever he wanted. You weren’t giving him your labor; he was giving you employment. They had Human Resources, where the boss could ask for more workers. (In the Netherlands, that department is called Personnel Issues.) You were made to feel worthless. I remember one boss who had very protective bylaws about non-discrimination on the work floor. Yet, each employee clearly had no value at all. And no matter how many blessings I have given them (good morning, good Shabbos, pleasant holidays, etc.), the only response I ever got was a fake: How are you?
Let’s face it. Many people are not nice most of the time. Why?
Some are afraid they won’t be taken seriously.
Some are all about themselves.
Some say they can’t be nice in a world no one is.
Some think they are nice when they feel the other is nice to them.
Some don’t see the problem.
Some think it would breed anarchy.
Some think it’s too Gay/effeminate to be nice.
Some think nice is insignificant.
Some don’t see the point.
Some think it’s a waste of energy.
Some don’t think about the option.
Some think they ARE nice.
Some think they’re too tired to be nice.
Some people think fake niceness is enough.
Some people think they’re too selfish to be nice.
Some are only nice when they want something from another.
Many mind others being unfriendly, but they’re lenient about themselves.
How can you be nice when you don’t feel it? Fake it? No, dishonesty is the other plague of our day. No, be nice, mean it, and then the feelings come.
Nice people have the best lives. To smile at someone, to be considerate, and to give, are all the best ways to receive. Yet, you don’t need to give to receive. You can give because it’s a proper expression of who you are.
Bonus: When many people are nice, the world will get better.
True: with some aggressive people, being nice makes it worse. (Don’t try this at home.) But they are the exceptions that confirm the rule.
Many women know this. Yet, often, they’re not told to be nice to themselves first.