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Friendly does it for me. It works in almost every situation, and gets me through life where my weaknesses don’t. I avoid conflict like the plague, and it makes me sad to see others enmeshed in anger, bitterness and grudges. In a society where you can barely make it through the day without hearing someone utter the other “F” word, I guess this would make me sort of a nerd. But it works for me.
I even like to be nice to people when they are not so nice to me. I stopped at a tollbooth recently and the cheerful woman handed me a card and told me to have a nice day. When I exited the highway a couple of hours later, the money taker was just the opposite. She was nasty and ignored my “how are you?” inquiry. When I told her to have a nice day, she didn’t answer.
My son was perplexed at my friendly attitude, wondering why I bothered since the lady was obviously “a jerk.” I told him that if I wanted to preserve my own peace of mind, there was never a reason not to be nice to others, no matter what their demeanor. If I had responded any other way, I would’ve put myself in her negative circle. By answering kindly, I may have put a dent in it instead. I ignored his teenage eye roll.
Being able to share a smile and have a reputation as someone who is approachable suits me. It does my heart good. There are days when I am entirely surrounded by mean. As a single mother of two teenagers who works in a bureaucratic environment, it comes with the territory. But friendliness is how I defend myself.
In today’s world, it can be difficult to find friendly, so it works for me to brew my own kindness and warm my heart from within. I make it a point to think in terms of how I can behave friendly and go from there. This technique isn’t always easy, but I’ve found that by manufacturing my own friendliness, I get enough to keep me happy and to spread around.
Friendly is not a common adjective anymore, but I used it to describe myself in a cover letter for a position I recently applied to. I did this as sort of a rebellious gesture, because in job search land (which remains very conservative) this is considered a no-no. Landing a position is all about demonstrating communication, time management, analytical and problem-solving skills. Friendliness has yet to make it to a mentionable skill on the professional level. But this particular position called for customer service skills, so I took a risk and included it in the closing paragraph. And although I didn’t obtain the offer, I did manage to get an interview.
I’m not even close to perfect, but I like that I am friendly. It serves its purpose. I can offer a helpful gesture or a positive boost to someone who really needs it. It keeps me from picking a fight with someone or purposefully offending them. It allows me to initiate pleasant conversation with perfect strangers, which is how I learned that every one of us has a story, and they are all interesting. And it allows me to smile and say hi to people walking by. Sometimes they respond, sometimes not. It doesn’t matter.
Out of all of the sentiments I can imagine on my tombstone, the one that would make me the happiest would be knowing others would read for eternity: “She was Friendly.”