Illustrated by Ariel Davis.
Launching a charm offensive can be tricky. If it's obvious to all involved that you just don't get along, you risk looking fake, or passive-aggressive — neither of which is flattering. But, if you can manage to consistently interact with a difficult person on even the warm side of cordial, you might melt their ice — and make your own days better.
A 2010 study in the Journal of Social Psychology
and another published in 2011, in the Journal of Happiness Studies
, suggested that performing small, good deeds for others can have a mood-boosting effect on the doer.
"The researchers made two big findings. First, consistent with the British study [in the Journal of Social Psychology
], people in general felt happier when they were asked to remember a time they bought something for someone else — even happier than when they remembered buying something for themselves. This happiness boost was the same regardless of whether the gift cost $20 or $100," Greater Good Magazine wrote
"But the second finding is even more provocative: The happier participants felt about their past generosity, the more likely they were in the present to choose to spend on someone else instead of themselves. Not all participants who remembered their past kindness felt happy. But the ones who did feel happy were overwhelmingly more likely to double down on altruism."
So, offer to buy a cup of coffee for the Office Grump, or even treat them to lunch if you can. They might thaw, knowing that you aren't secretly imagining their downfall, plus, you'll feel good, too.