Starting off on the right foot lets others know we are willing to cooperate, and invites them to cooperate in return.
Its easier to be nice to people we like, but its just as important to be nice to people we dont know very well or dont like very much. It would be a lot to expect for us to like every person we meet. We dont have to be overly nice, or be good friends with everyone, but we do need to let them know we are willing to cooperate.
We have to pay attention because we dont always notice when someone is being nice, especially if its someone we dont know very well, or dont like very much. Being polite and kind to others in return for politeness and kindness can help build cooperation, and avoid nasty interactions that can lead to violence.
Why not just be nice all the time?
Being nice even when others treat you badly or bully you:
First we have to judge whether the person was being nasty on purpose, or if it was just an accident. If we think it was just an accident, we have to check it out by asking the person if he or she meant to be nasty. If we are sure the meanness or nastiness was intended, then we have to let them know their behavior will not be tolerated. We can let them know by being nasty to them in return.
Remember being nasty in return is not revenge or punishment. Its a message that says I will not tolerate this kind of behavior from you.
Being nasty first sets up a negative course. It tells the other person that you are not willing to cooperate with them and it invites that person to be nasty to you in return. Even when you dont like someone, you do not have the right to be nasty without being provoked.
Its not fair to punch someone if all theyve done to you is call a name. A fair thing to do is no worse than what was done to you. Just calling a name in return would be fair. Its not fair to steal a dollar from your little brother if all hes taken from you is a piece of gum.
Remember being nasty in return is not revenge or punishment. Its just a message that says I will not tolerate this kind of behavior. You will not be allowed to get away with it.
There are lots of ways you can let people know they will not be allowed to treat you badly. If you cant think of a way that will fit a particular situation, ask someone to help you think of something.
Make allowances. Did you ever yell at someone who didnt deserve to be yelled at because you were just having a bad day?
If people yell at you when you dont deserve to be yelled at, you still need to let them know they have offended you. Having a bad day is no excuse to take it out on someone else. However, after you have let them know, you might want to consider giving them another chance to be nice at another time.
When people say theyre sorry, there is no need to let them know they have hurt or offended you. They already know it. Give them another chance.
We all make mistakes. When you know youre wrong, say so. Letting others know that you are aware of what you have done to hurt or offend them can avoid a consequence for you. The best apology is clearly connected to what you did without disclaimers. Lengthy explanations for your behavior tend to sound like excuses, and therefore insincere.
When someone else has good things happen, it just means there are more good things happening. When more good things happen you are more likely to have good things happen to you.
Holding grudges keeps us in the past and sets us up for being nasty when were not provoked. Escalation of violence is more likely to happen when we try to get revenge.
Reciprocity is usually the best way for you to handle differences and disagreements between yourself and others, and to promote cooperation. However there are times when a situation has escalated beyond your control. There are times when you might be in physical danger, or times when the same person bullies you repeatedly. When this happens seek help from a trusted adult.
If someone is bullying or abusing you and you cannot get help from an adult, the best thing to do is to avoid contact with that person completely. There are times when reciprocity is not the best option. When another driver on the freeway cuts in front of you reciprocating by cutting in front of that driver could endanger your life, the life of the other driver, and the life of innocent people in other cars.