Is Being Nice Worth the Price?

Filed in Living by on March 24, 2016 3 Comments

I try to be nice to everyone I meet during the course of my day. Occasionally this comes with a small price, because people can be quirky and even a little clueless, but to me it’s still worth the effort. I’ll give you two examples of what I mean, both of which occurred at the gym.

When I was in graduate school, I worked out at the university gym. There were a lot of young undergrad students also working out there. There also happened to be one gay guy, who was closer to my age and probably a grad student.

Every day, the same two male undergrads would make merciless fun of the gay man. They could be brutal at times. So I went out of my way to be nice to him. I would ask him how his workout was going, how he was doing that day, stuff like that. He was a nice guy and seemed to appreciate me treating him like any other workout guy.

Then, one day I was doing an exercise called leg curls, which require you to lay flat on your stomach and pull the weight up with the back of your ankles to work the back of your legs. Most gym members know that you want to keep your butt down during this movement to get the most benefit. So the gay fella walked over to me and asked if I wanted him to sit on my butt during the exercise.

As you might guess, this is not an offer you would ever likely hear from one workout guy to another.

I said, “No, no, that’s not going to happen.”

So I paid a small price for being nice to this person. But I forgave his error in judgment, because he was a good guy and he just made a mistake. I still enjoyed talking to him, even after the awkward incident.

In the gym I train at now, there is a lady in her 70’s who comes in every day and works out really hard. Again, she is made fun of because she is different. One particular guy has the nerve to call her “the bag lady” because she dresses oddly, which is pretty mean. So I have befriended her. She is enjoyable to talk to, but she also talks a lot, so sometimes she interferes with my workout. She doesn’t seem to totally get that most people in the gym want some space to concentrate on their exercises, get into a rhythm, and generate intensity. So, again, I am paying somewhat of a price for being nice to this particular person.

But then just the other day I happened to mention to her that I had jury duty a few days earlier, but was lucky enough to not have been put on a trial. She shared with me that she would probably never be selected for a trial, at least not a criminal one, because her father was murdered by two men when she was a young adult. I spent some time talking to her about how sad that must have been, and how bad I felt about her terrible loss. She seemed to really appreciate my sentiments. It was a nice conversation, and I’m glad she’s my friend.

Yes, I think it’s worth the very minor price you might need to occasionally pay, due to people’s quirks and idiosyncrasies, to befriend those around you. Are you willing to take a little bit of the bad, which also comes with a lot of good, by actively engaging with those around you?

About the Author ()

TIM MCINTYRE retired in 2004 from his position as president of Applied Systems after facilitating a successful sale of the company. At only forty-six years old, he made the unusual decision to fully retire to pursue other interests and simply enjoy free time. As a hard-driving Type A personality, this turned out to be a significant challenge for the Notre Dame and University of Chicago-educated MBA, CPA, and Certified Cash Manager.

Comments (3)

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  1. Deborah Mcloughlin says:

    Your kindness and concern for others shows through every time we get together

  2. Lynn Crotty says:

    Nice article Tim. I enjoyed reading it. Thank you.

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