Be nicer


Be nicer


your avatar   Shannon, 25-year-old woman

Growing up I always fought with one of my older siblings for no reason - she never did anything to me. Now that I'm grown up I am trying to keep a friendly attitude with all people all the time, even if somebody upsets me.

How can I be nice to friends and family?


    Bob Rich, Ph.D.

Shannon, you have taken the first two very important steps. First, you have realized that what you did as a child was wrong, and second, you have decided to change this long-standing habit. You can. Check out "How to change a habit" to start. At first, a new habit feels unnatural and like pretending, but it improves with practice, and after awhile becomes a part of you.

Another good thing is that I see you have taken a positive attitude. Your actions are saying:

  • There is no such thing as a mistake, fault or defect.
  • There are only learning opportunities.

When you make a mistake:

  • Apologize to yourself within your heart and forgive yourself.
  • If possible and appropriate, apologize to other people affected.
  • If possible and appropriate, make restitution.
  • Work out how you can do it better next time.

If you find that a past act was a mistake, that's proof that you've gained in wisdom. The worst thing you can do is to beat yourself up with shame and guilt. You are responsible for having made the mistake, and the above addresses that. I think this is the path you have set for yourself.

Next, do you still have contact with your older sister? If so, you can apologize to her, then ask her to be your helper in making the change. If not, find someone else who is willing to help you. Here is how it goes: Design a way to act in typical situations that have given you problems until now. Practice these in front of a mirror, like an actress practicing a part. First do role-plays with your helper, then get into real-life situations. Have secret signals from your helper. For example, when you do it the new way, she can wink her left eye. When you slip back and do it the old way, she can touch her ear to remind you. There will be slip-backs and difficulties, but the more you practice, the better you get.

You have set out on a journey to become a person people will love to have around. Once you are good at it, you can make your own and everyone else's life better.

Let me know how you go.


This question was answered by Dr. Bob Rich. Dr. Rich has 30+ years of experience as a psychotherapist. Dr. Rich is also a writer and a "mudsmith". Bob is now retired from psychological practice, but still works with people as a counselor.For more information visit:

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