Reward Nice People

By: Winn Claybaugh

It's amazing that some people will have a bad experience with a rude waiter and instantly complain or write a letter. For the tiniest infraction of rudeness or meanness, they'll loudly announce their displeasure. Yet all of us experience niceness and meet nice people every single day, and do nothing to reward it when it happens. We say nothing to someone who smiles at us. We write no letters to hotel managers when we experience a pleasant front-desk employee. We don't compliment an airline flight attendant as we leave the plane and say, "You were so nice. Thanks!"

When a person is mean, for some reason we give them priority. We hurry to accommodate their needs. Does being mean get the job or task done quicker? Yes, many times it does—which is why people use that strategy. To me, it's the same strategy that some parents use when they verbally or physically abuse their children to get them to do what they want. Why do parents do it? Because it works. It can be very effective. But it's not nice, it's certainly not good parenting, and I doubt that it creates nicer children.

Let's turn that around. The next time you experience a really nice waitress who goes out of her way to brighten up your day, reward her. Maybe you could choose to leave an outrageous tip, and as you're leaving the restaurant, say something like, "You were really nice. Thanks!" so she connects the big tip to being nice.

You could start a letter-writing campaign to support people who are nice. In fact, I'd like to propose that for every "You did me wrong" letter you write, you must also write at least ten "You were amazing and nice" letters.

A friend of mine told me that while in a consumer awareness class in college, he received an interesting assignment. His professor asked the class to write five complaint letters, and then she taught them how to make the letters more "effective." My friend suffered through the lecture until the end, then raised his hand and asked when they'd be taught how to write five "compliment" letters. The professor was outraged until others in the class spoke up, and she finally agreed to the option. It's my friend's understanding that this professor presents both types of letters in her classes today.

Winn Claybaugh is the author of "Be Nice (Or Else!)," with foreword by CNN's Larry King! He has worked in the beauty industry since 1983, and is the founder of Paul Mitchell The School, with several locations throughout the U.S. In 2004, the North American Hairdressing Awards (NAHA) recognized Winn's contributions by awarding him the Hall of Leaders Award. He is the National Motivational Expert for Paul Mitchell, and has worked with thousands of businesses, including companies such as Vidal Sassoon, the Irvine Company, Entertainment Tonight, Mattel, For Rent magazine, Structure/Limited Express and others. In its November 1997 "Super Heroes" section, American Salon magazine called Winn a "mover of mountains" and "Mr. Fix-it." Winn has also served as vice president of the AIDS Relief Fund for Beauty Professionals, and continues to pursue many fundraising projects. Visit Winn at

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