My mom is the manager of a gas station in a small Nova Scotian community. One day she was talking to me about one of her employees. He was polite, and kind and a generally productive worker. But there was one thing that he just couldn’t seem to do.

He couldn’t say, “Have a nice day.”

I don’t believe that he was incapable of saying the words but rather he seemed to be unable to remember to say it. He would say things that were really close. He would say have a good one. Or take care. But the parent company, when it came to mystery shopping, did not accept anything other than one very simple phrase;

“Have a nice day.”

I didn’t think this made a lot of sense. My experiences with him were so overwhelming positive that I thought, “what’s the big deal?”

I went so far as to try to prompt him. I would say “have a nice day first” to see if he would reciprocate. Nope.

Then one day I was at another station and had the exact opposite experience that I had at my mom’s store. I found the attendant to be at best, disinterested and at worst, rude.

And then it happened.

As I was walking out the door, thinking about what a mediocre service experience this was, she said it.

“Have a nice day.”

It changed the whole experience for me.

Now, I’m not suggesting just be an asshole and that the occasional “have a nice day” will make everything better. But what I am suggesting is that being polite, friendly and kind can solve a lot of problems.

There are incredible companies that make incredible products that no one wants to deal with because they’re jerks. Sometimes you can push through that. Sometimes your offering is so good that you can overcome a bad bedside manner. But why bother?

Look, don’t be a pushover. Don’t let people treat you poorly. I stress this next point.

The customer…is NOT…always right.

BUT…the customer (for now anyways) is always a person.

The one thing I stress to young entrepreneurs is to use every single tool that they have at their disposal. These tools are so much greater than those we had 20 years ago, or 5 years ago or even 1 year ago. Every. Single. Tool.

One of those tools is our humanity. Not using that tool is like if a carpenter was like, “sure, I COULD use this hammer…but I also have this awkwardly shaped rock…so…”

Hammer with kindness.

“Have a nice day.”