The Importance of Being Nice

For the most part I agree with this Seth Godin post, in which he says that it doesn’t matter if people like you, only that they like your work.

In many ways being a writer is great, b/c it doesn’t matter if I’m boring or nerdy or awkward, people are either going to like 32 CANDLES or they won’t.

However, when I read this Godin post, I was reminded of two authors who I met in college when I was young. They were both great writers, and they were both snobby, condescending, and flat-out rude. That was a decade and a half ago. Before meeting them I loved their work. I haven’t read a thing they’ve written since.

Don’t get me wrong. I adore characters, and as I’ve said before, I love mean women. But by being particularly rude to me when I was a student, these two authors lost about forty bucks in royalties each, because I’m never, ever going to buy another one of their books. That’s not a lot, no. But I’ve met quite a few people since that day who have also been treated rudely by these two people. Now those royalty losses are adding up.

One of these authors is still thriving, and the other is struggling and often rants about the “lazy reading public” and the “publishing industry.”

I often think about these two authors as I go about my day-t0-day business. When I get mad about some minor customer service infraction or social insult, I remind myself that everyone I meet is a potential reader. I can either express my displeasure and lose $40 or be patient and possibly gain $40. Weirdly enough, when I think about it that way, I’ve found my patience grow by leaps and bounds. I’m cheap and I don’t like playing around with my money. It’s actually really easy to be nice, much harder to pay a possible $40 penalty to be mean.

So though, I don’t think it’s necessary to go out of one’s way to get people to like you, but I also don’t think that one should put any energy into into doing or saying unnecessarily mean things IRL.

Then again, maybe I’m wrong about all of this. I mean, look at Kanye West. But then again, Kanye West used to be way nicer than he is now. Some might say he did it exactly right. He didn’t start turning off fans with his IRL behavior until he could afford it.

featured image credit: marcomagrini