Today, let’s address a reader’s question on a different topic. He wrote:
“I genuinely try to have the attitude of wanting to be nice to someone who is difficult to deal with, but can’t seem to get over the feeling of, ‘Well, if he’s nice to me first, then I’ll be nice to him.’ I find that reaching out first doesn’t work for me because, really, I don’t like nasty people, and I feel phony about being nice to someone I don’t like. Am I wrong? Is there a way to overcome these feelings?”
While it’s not a matter of being right or wrong, I very much appreciate your question. Please understand that what you’re feeling is very natural. After all, I don’t think many of us have an innate desire to be nice to difficult people. However, the world being what it is, plenty of them are out there. Not to mention, those who are basically good people and for one reason or another there is simply not a simpatico between us.
So, in dealing with others, we need to make a decision as to whether we want to “be right or be effective.” The good news is that, when we are effective, we also become right. When we can teach ourselves to like a person (even one difficult to like), they will sense it, and most likely will feel the same way about us. And, now that they like us, it’s much easier to feel good about them. Ahhh, a cycle of success that cannot be beat.
In answer to one part of your question, no, I don’t believe it would be phony because you are taking an action with the desired result that it will add value to the lives of everyone involved. Sure, you could wait for them to change on their own (“if he’s nice to me first”) but, since they are living in their own paradigm and are most likely unconscious of such, it is up to you to set – or reset – the matrix.
This is different than what we’ve discussed in previous articles regarding positive expectation of others. Here, we are talking about you, and you changing. And, there’s no reason you can’t change your mind-set to feel good about him first. In Part Two we’ll discuss this idea a bit further.