Be Nice…

Written by mitch on. Posted in Aftermarket, Blog, Distribution, Manufacturing, Repair Community

My wife was at a Staff Meeting tonight, which basically means I was on my own. Now, for some people that might mean dinner out and a chance to do whatever they want. For me it meant two slices of left over mushroom quesadilla, U-Verse, and a chance to watch Road House… yet again!

MV5BMTU1MTE2Mjk2OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTUzNjYzNA@@._V1._SY317_If Lesley was home and walked into the family room and Road House was on… again: the conversation would go something like this, “How many times are you going to watch that movie? Don’t you have it memorized by now!” and, I’d probably respond with something clever, like: “As many times as it’s on… And, almost, but not quite yet!”

To tell you the truth, I have memorized most, if not all of it. But, there are great lessons to be learned from Sam Elliott’s character and still more to be learned from Patrick Swayze. One of those things is something I learned a long time ago and that’s, “Be nice…”

It comes during a scene at the very beginning of the movie where Swayze’s character, Dalton, is sharing what turns out to be both his operational strategy for the bar he’s supposed to reclaim and resurrect and his own personal philosophy: “Be nice… Be nice no matter what happens: no matter what anyone does, no matter what anyone says. Be nice until it’s time not to be nice.”

It’s an operational strategy and philosophy I’ve tried to adopt, but honestly, my execution is generally something less than perfect. In fact, it’s something I have trouble with just about every day…

Why? Because, it’s hard to be nice when you’re dealing with someone who by nature appears to be anything but nice. It’s hard to be nice to someone who appears to be ‘working you’ every time they show up: nice when in your presence and bordering on malicious when you aren’t there and they’re skulking around in the shadows.

There isn’t enough time or ink to tell the whole story here, but I’d be willing to bet if you’ve been in this business for more than an hour-and-a-half you know this guy or at least, his type. In fact, if you’ve been in this business for more than an hour-and-a-half you’ve probably already had him in your office.

Be nice… “

While he can be absolutely charming when or if he chooses: you can just as quickly and easily find yourself confronted with someone how is condescending, demanding, annoying, confounding, insulting and contradictory – and, as my wife would say, “Those are his GOOD points!”

Be nice…”

My attitude may have been poisoned by the email he sent a few weeks ago implying one of our technicians actually sabotaged his vehicle, creating a problem just because he didn’t like working on his vehicle. Or, it could have been his unwillingness to believe me when I tried to tell him that couldn’t be further from the truth: that our technician actually had no problem working on his car.

What I should have told him, but didn’t – what I couldn’t tell him – was that the problem our technician had was working with the owner, not with the vehicle!

Be nice…”

I’ve tried. But, it’s hard – almost impossible – to be nice to someone who isn’t nice to you. It’s hard to be nice to someone who has insulted you. Or, worse yet, insulted people you respect: people who have earned that respect over a lifetime of service. And, yet, I keep trying.

I keep trying even when the veneer of that effort is worn so thin it’s almost become transparent.

Be nice…”

I’m giving it one last shot… going over the vehicle one last time and at least attempting to knock every last concern off this guy’s list. I’m going to kill him with kindness… Or, maybe, I’ll just kill him? Who knows…

Whatever I do, I’ll be doing it for me and not for him and that’s kind of a shame because he’ll probably read it the wrong way and think it’s all about him and everything is OK.

I’ll be nice because that’s who I am: that’s who we are… It’s how we are with just about everyone who comes here.

It’s the way we do things: the way I was raised, the only way we know.

But, it will be the last time we’ll be nice. Because I think we’ve reached the point it’s finally time not to be so nice!”

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I am a fourth generation, forty-sixy year veteran of the automotive aftermarket: an ASE Certified Master Technician, Service Consultant and Approved Automotive Manager. I grew up in this business with a passion for all things mechanical, particularly those things relating to performance. That passion grew to include all aspects of management, leadership and personal development with a special focus on every day shop operations which resulted in an eight-volume series on automotive shop management published by Cengage Learning and Thomson Publishing. I have been a trade journalist writing to the aftermarket for almost thirty years, devoting my professional life to improving both the image and experience of everyone struggling to succeed in the service industry and I've worked diligently to improve communication and increase understanding between all segments of my industry. This site and everything on it is both an extension and a continuation of those efforts

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