Chava Berman Borowsky

How to be a Nice Person

“I have plans.”

Never ever use this phrase. There is no phrase as vile, as obnoxious, and as vomit-inducing in the English lexicon as “I already have plans.” What you’re essentially saying is that your life is so profoundly glamorous and fascinating that it can’t possibly be shared with other lowly unworthy human beings. As a general rule it isn’t very nice to be a private secretive person. This doesn’t mean you are obliged to over-share but it shows integrity when you’re an honest person who doesn’t make excuses. If your child has ever used this phrase with his peers, know that you have officially failed at parenting and that it’s time to repent and do serious חשבון הנפש.

“You’re so funny!”

Many times this phrase is used to lessen awkward encounters. If you’re not explicitly implying that the person tells really funny jokes just don’t use this phrase. I have a different novel approach for you – embrace the awkwardness. Seriously, try your hardest not to be a jerk.

“You have a point.”

When you aren’t really interested in what the other person has to say and you strongly disagree with their takes this phrase can always come in handy.

“I can see that.”

Another nice phrase you can use which at least shows some degree of empathy.

Answer Messages Immediately

If you’re so busy that you don’t have a few nano-seconds every day to reply with a thumbs-up, find yourself a different job. There’s no excuse for answering six hours later.

Remember People’s Names

Make a point of asking people what their full name is when you meet them. If you’re bad with names, take a few minutes to study the profiles of the people in your WhatsApp groups. It’s just plainly very-not-nice and rude not to remember people’s names after meeting them a few times.

Don’t Cancel Plans

I don’t care if your grandmother just died. Guess what – your grandmother doesn’t want you to be a jerk. I don’t care if all your cards are declined – borrow cash from a neighbor. I don’t care how tired you are – pull on a dress or a polo shirt and force yourself to run out the door.

Don’t Flake After You Confirmed that You’re Attending

I don’t care if you just had a sixteen hour shift in the ER. If someone prepared food for you or paid for your plate – you go. Refer to the previous rule. If you’re about to fall asleep, put something easy to pull on over yourself, do or don’t put on eye-liner and mascara, and run out the door before you actually fall asleep. Regardless, you’ll end up enjoying yourself at the event.

Take an Interest

Always take an interest. It’s really not that difficult. I’ll give you three examples:

The person you’re talking to has an unhealthy obsession with semiconductors.“Wow, it’s so nice to see how passionate you are about semiconductors. Please tell me the for-dummies version of everything I can possibly understand about semiconductors at a simple level so that I’ll be able to comprehend more easily.”

The person you’re talking to thinks that no historic figure is as fascinating as King Henry the 8th and he brings up this information with random people he meets in elevators. “Wow, King Henry the 8th sounds like such a fascinating character. Maybe you can recommend some books I can read on the topic?”

Your friend’s brother is a soccer fanatic and says some strange things. “Please tell me the difference between Maradonna and Madonna.” “I think it’s the coolest idea I’ve ever heard that you want to get married and have two boys and name them Leo and Messi.”

About the Author
Chava Berman Borowsky grew up in Los Angeles, CA in an Orthodox community in the La Brea Fairfax neighborhood. She moved to Israel in 2008 and has since lived in Jerusalem, Bet Shemesh, Holon, and Ashdod. Her hobbies include cooking, hiking, painting, and writing.