Getting Your Way: When It's Best To Win People Over With Kindness

"Is it better to push someone over the edge or win someone over to you? Is it more effective to scare someone into submission?"

I am absolutely horrified at some Truly Rich Households who have already put up tinsel and plastic trees when the most important celebration of spooks is yet to come! How dare they zoom past Halloween and all its delights? How dare they forget about the candy!

It is because I just love the scares! In fact, I find a secret thrill in being scary, so I am going to march to the door of Mrs. So-And-So and remind her that, according to the rules and regulations of our very strict village, themed decorations can only be put up two months before the celebration (and remain up one month after it ends)!

For my protest, I will use my firm voice and unleash a growl at the end—and it will not be the sexy growl, mind you, but the growl that makes the softhearted young'uns of my household staff cry (never wake me up before I wake up).

Or maybe I should do my best impression of Martha Stewart and win her over with my famous banana bread (these are made from bananas harvested from the trees found on my golf course)? Maybe I should arrange my face into a smile and—gently!—convince her to consider the merits of monsters, zombies, and sexy doctors? Then again, I know Martha is a tough cookie. Never forget she went to prison.

What do you think, dear readers? Is it better to push someone over the edge or win someone over to you? Is it more effective to scare someone into submission? Or is it always best to be like bamboo, pliant in the wind, and beloved by pandas?


Si-si Coo! Just let that witch out! A strong and scary demeanor gets things done.

Miranda Priestly, my creepy aunt with the hooked nose, and the mistress of seats at the trendy Japanese restaurant would all say that it is so much better to be feared than loved. The mere thought of being on the receiving end of an icy stare is enough to keep people on your side.

When uneasy silence is not enough, a dose of fire from deep within your black heart can quell any opposition. Just ask my bossy cousins, who must have been partially raised by bears, because their idea of working things out is called shouting very loud. I have no energy to deal with this and just follow what they want. (Which sadly, for me, is a vintage set of marble fruits that they insist is from their side of the family.)

Sometimes you just have to match the monster at the other end of the phone with a monster of your own making: While having a big lunch of leaves, I received a call from someone on the Board of Imaginary Importance. It was my utter misfortune to need something from this creature, who demanded so many things in exchange for so very little. And there she was bellowing into my ear even before I had my first bite.

Exasperated and also famished I gave her a piece of my mind. Before I knew it, my Truly Rich Best Friend was kicking me under the table and then signaling for me to smile while talking into the receiver. Without my knowledge, I was already using my firm voice with growling!

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That smile trick worked as I soon regained my composure. Nevertheless, the unexpected flash of heat was enough to subdue the person on the other end of the line. She backed down, and I finished my lunch.

This works, yes, but I would not recommend scare tactics unless you do not care about your good reputation or have no plans of seeing the person you’ve scared again or do not intend to return to the restaurant where you displayed drama.

My dear Si-si: Be an angel on earth always. The light touch of a gentle heart solves all.

I am amazed at people whose default mode is gentleness. These include my Truly Rich Mother, the old man who speaks with the melodic voice, and my household staff, criers included.

To find a solution to the daily thorns of life, they are, well, nice. Now, I know what some of you think: Nice is like choosing beige for your nails. It is boring. But like a dependable coat of skin-like color, it works.

The security guard will make you feel like a royal when he jumps to his feet to clear traffic away from the driveway of the building (that you don’t even own) and express you into the private elevator (that you are not supposed to be using) all because you know his name, his kid’s name, his birthday, and his favorite snack (banana bread).

During disagreements, an unexpected kindness can even disarm an ogre. When you remain respectful and act selflessly in the face of someone who prefers to employ scariness, well, first, you look like a winner, and second, you will be the winner. Eventually, the person acting like a fool will quiet because you refuse to play with him. 


Those who possess high enough skill can even turn to another form of niceness: charm. Now, I know that this can feel like cheating, but a bit of buttering up doesn’t hurt anyone, especially when you need help carrying the crates of bananas from your golf course.

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C.C. Coo
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