I know its really fashionable these days to be mean. Its how some people try to stand out in a crowd – see who can say the meanest, nastiest put down. It used to just be the schoolyard bully but the internet has taken it to a whole other level and people can be even meaner from the comfort of their keyboard in bed without seeing the hurt facial expression of those they inflict their “humor” on.
Before you are tempted to make that next nasty comment you think is so funny, think about this. Being mean might improve your status with a bunch of strangers on the internet. Being mean might improve your status with the kids in the locker room. The truth is though, nice is sexy. Those looking for boyfriends/girlfriends are attracted to nice and turned off by mean. Being mean is also very career limiting, mean people get put into the “doesn’t play well with others” box and get passed over for promotions.
You cant have a dual personality and compartmentalize your “mean”. If you are mean and nasty all night long on your keyboard at bodybuilding.com and then try to turn on the fake sweet when you are around those you want to date, its not going to work, “mean” is going to leak out … and its ugly. Mean is a cancer that you can’t get rid of or control. Once you get comfortable in a social situation or at work, those mean comments will just slip out and you won’t even notice .. but your boss will and that girl you had your eye on will notice too.
Turn mean off before its too late. If you use put-downs to make you feel better, give this a try for a day – try being genuinely nice for 24 hours and see how it makes you feel. My guess is that it will make you feel even better than the put-downs did. Every person you come in contact, give them one honest, genuine compliment. Not some lame “you look nice today” and not some come-on line either “you look HOT!”. See how their face lights up with a good, honest, and heartfelt compliment. It can be as simple as complimenting them on some article of clothing they are wearing that you *truly* love, some skill they have, or whatever. Be patient, it can take a bit of practice to go from mean to giving true compliments. One thing that you will find is that being nice will get you a lot more mileage than being mean, especially in the long run.
EDIT: Some people have commented that in the business world, its the nasty people who get ahead. Maybe that works for a few evil people in the short term but it comes back to haunt them soon enough. Don’t think you can be nice and do well in business? Read the worldwide best seller “How to win friends and influence people” by Dale Carnegie. The business world exists to make money as quickly and efficiently as possible but being mean and nasty is not a formula for success. Having said that, you dont move up in business by being everyones best friend either. You cant say to your employee, “Please do this report for me after you check facebook, chat with your friends on your cellphone, and finish off that bottle of whiskey thats in your bottom drawer”. Good bosses and NOT everyones best friend but they ARE known for being firm but fair. Good bosses never backstab or talk ill of people behind their back. Good bosses know that they are successful when they work hard to make those under them successful … and give them full, public, credit for their success. Good bosses can always find a way to align the companies needs with the employees needs, the “win-win” that is the core of the “How to win friends and influence people” book.