Like it or not, there are times when you have to get along with someone you may have struggles with. It could be a boss, an ex-spouse, or a next-door neighbor. How can you maintain good rapport with someone you’re struggling with? Be nice, be nice, be nice! That might sound like a pretty tall order, but it’s easy if you follow three simple steps.

What Causes You Not to Be Nice?
Start by identifying the circumstances that chase being nice out the window for you. Pay attention and watch for the signals, because everyone has them. You might want to ask your family, close friends, or coworkers to lovingly point out the “buttons” that cause your niceness to dissipate. Is it when your nagging supervisor calls you into the office? When you have to deal with a rude customer? When you have to wait in a slow-moving line?

For me, it’s usually when I’m tired that I’m not nice. I get cranky, become abrupt with people, and act unkindly. Because I have the awareness and presence of mind to realize that it’s not because other people are extra irritating in that moment, but that the issue lies with me, I usually have the good sense to force a smile and do all I can to make it about them.

Refill Your Reservoir
The next step is filling up your reservoir. Cup your hands together as though you were going to splash water on your face. Your two hands together represent your reservoir, which is filled with your dreams, fantasies, personality, passion, talents, and skills — everything that makes you who you are, everything that makes you wonderful. Do you ever feel at the end of the day that your reservoir is drained and empty? How does it get drained? Traffic. Bad weather. A new computer system at work. Your boss’s bad mood.

How do you fill your reservoir back up? You could have it filled by having a customer or friend send you a dozen roses, but can you count on that? You have to know how to fill your own reservoir. And by the way, what works for someone else may not work for you. One of your missions in life is to find out what fills up your own reservoir.

My reservoir gets filled with a wonderful dinner with a dear friend or two, in a quaint restaurant, with great conversation. I bet I spend more money doing that than I spend on clothes or vacations. Going to the gym with my best buddies also fills up my reservoir. There’s something amazing about doing something that’s good for me and motivating someone I care about to do something good for them, too. And don’t even get me started on how fabulous the conversations are between our sets of exercises.

The bottom line is that you have to make sure your needs are met, and sometimes the best way to make that happen is to meet them yourself. If your happiness is tied to having someone send you flowers, then send yourself some flowers! Learn How to Defuse People

Everyone occasionally gets trapped in a bad mood, and bad moods can lead to bad actions. Defusing people is all about giving them a dose of something that could alter their mood or thinking. In business, the best and easiest way to defuse a complaining, irate customer is not to make excuses or to place blame for the circumstances that made the customer upset. Angry customers rarely care about the reasons. The best thing to do is to let them vent and then say, “I’m so sorry you were inconvenienced. What wonderful thing could I do to make you happy?”

I once had one of those awful flying experiences where flight after flight was delayed, and none of the delays were weather related. What should have been a 3-hour flight turned into a 15-hour, multiple-city, exhausting nightmare, causing me to miss meetings in my intended city. By 3 A.M., when I was finally within 30 minutes of landing at my destination airport, I suddenly smelled something wonderful. The flight attendants were baking chocolate chip cookies! That sweet, comforting aroma filled the airline cabin, and our small group of 20 passengers waited with anticipation as the flight attendants made their way down the aisle, handing each of us a warm cookie. I instantly abandoned my plans for an enraged letter-writing campaign and was effortlessly defused of all my anger and exhaustion — all with one soft, freshly baked cookie.

I suspect that those flight attendants were just as tired as we were. Did they get grumpy and treat us badly? No. They turned an unpleasant and exhausting situation into a fun and memorable event, just by being nice!