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How to Be Nice to the Elderly
by Winn Claybaugh
author of Be Nice (Or Else!) And What's In It For You


In the 1970s there was a television comedy show called Mork and Mindy. Mork, an alien from another planet, lived on Earth with Mindy to learn about earthlings. At the end of each episode, Mork would contact his planet and report back to his commanding officer. His observations would usually deliver a positive moral.

At the end of one episode, Mork’s message went something like this: It’s very strange that people here on Earth value most anything that is old. They value old wine, old furniture, old paintings, and so on. The one old thing that Earthlings don’t value is old people.

I’ve grown to love and appreciate elderly people. If I chose to, I could recognize and dwell on their negative, crotchety character traits—traits that, by the way, also exist in young people. However, I find elderly people to be cute, funny, wise, and grateful, and they possess the best manners. That’s what I choose to see, and so my experience with the elderly is always filled with joy and respect.

Okay, so old people might move slower and drive slower. So do you and I, on occasion. In order to show my love and respect for the elderly, and so that I can harness my rude, impatient self when I’m stuck behind a slow-moving senior, here’s what I do. I pretend that the slow-driving old lady in front of me is my own mother or grandmother. I would never lose patience with or honk at my own mother or grandmother, and I certainly wouldn’t want total strangers to lose their patience and honk at them, either.

Just remember that the universe has eyes. Your own self-love and confidence are undeniably tied to what you put out there. Honking at an old lady to get her out of your way may help you arrive at your destination five minutes sooner, but the devastation you inflict on that old lady will set you back in ways you can’t even comprehend. To truly be nice in the world, let’s love, honor, and respect our elderly. After all, we’re all on our way there someday, too.




Winn Claybaugh is the author of Be Nice (Or Else!) and “one of the best motivational speakers in the country,” according to CNN’s Larry King. A business owner for over 28 years with over 15,000 people in his organization, Winn is the co-owner of hair care giant Paul Mitchell’s school division. Winn has helped thousands of businesses build their brands and create successful working cultures. His clients include Southwest Airlines, the Irvine Company, Vidal Sassoon, Entertainment Tonight, Mattel, For Rent magazine, Structure/Limited/Express, and others. Winn is a frequent guest on national radio and a regular contributor to online publications. Visit www.BeNiceOrElse.com to sign up for his free monthly Be Nice (Or Else!) newsletter.


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