Friday, April 20

No More Mr. Nice Guy

So it's been four weeks since the start of my personal experiment. And as with all experiments, I found quite a few interesting results.

First, the quantitative stuff. Over the last four weeks:

  • Two people said that they liked the changes.
  • Two people said that it was weird and they wanted me to go back.
  • A few (4+) said that they noticed a change, but didn't mention whether it was good or bad.
  • Most people didn't notice anything.
  • Two people took the pee and didn't take it seriously.
  • I had to consciously adapt my behaviour many times a day.
These results indicate that it wasn't necessarily about me not being nice, but more about me considering the treatment of and reaction to particular people. Some have this idea that real honesty is acting the same way in front of all people. Regardless of how true this is, since everyone is different (and so react differently), this idea may be in conflict with its own intention. In other words, there's a big argument for tact and behaviour modification.

Also, although this whole challenge was primarily about me it was interesting to see the effect it had on other people. Some people didn't believe it could be done, some didn't understand the point of it, while others appreciated the sentiment. I guess it's a good thing people were interested enough to have an opinion at all!

And now the qualitative. By far, the hardest part for me was the whole "walking away and not lecturing/advising" part. Unfortunately this seems ingrained in my persona (which kinda explains the accusations of being hypercritical). The best (and perhaps only) tactic I had to get out of a quibble would be to not embark on one at all; if I appeared terse, brief or quiet to some of you over the past few weeks, well that's probably why. Still, it felt good to be in control and not blind over trivial things.

Obviously obscure things like sleep or the right diet helps too. As does smiling: the next time you feel stressed or... in an antagonising/argumentative mood, try smiling.

Surprisingly, avoiding feelings of "why should I" was pretty easy - sometimes it took as much energy protesting than just getting on with things. Another concern was appearing fake or not genuine with the niceness, but no one accused me of this. Well, not seriously anyway.

This week was particularly difficult as my patience wore thin. I had actually thought I was finishing last Friday which might have had something to do with it, or it could have just been typical human regression. Whatever the reason, I guess it just proves that being nice isn't as easy as one might think it is. Or maybe that's just me.

In swift conclusion I think that it was a good enough exercise and well worth doing. I've learned quite a bit about myself and others, and I am convinced that there are some aspects I'd like to develop and build on in order to cement a more permanent change.