That’s Not Nice

Recently, I listened to Martha Stout’s book The Sociopath Next Door. It discusses how we can recognize the traits of sociopaths in our lives. Once we identify them, we can begin to act appropriately toward them.

Stout discusses the situation of a young girl on a bus. She sees one of her classmates picking on another student. This student is differently abled. 

The young girl could have kept silent. She didn’t. She spoke up, told the bully he’s not being nice, and changed the course of the bullied child’s day.

It took a lot of courage for the young girl to speak up. She was putting herself in harm’s way yet she acted to help the other student. She was willing to be the voice of the voiceless. She was willing to call out the un-nice behavior. 

That’s Not Nice

When we were growing up, being nice was something most of us strived for. We realized we wanted people to be nice to us. We also realized our unkind actions could hurt those around us. 

So we worked on being a little bit nicer than we were.

Now, many business experts have called out nice people. They’re willing to say that being nice hurts your business, a danger leaders must avoid. 

I don’t believe that’s a great way to do business. When we fail to be nice, to show kindness to those we lead, we fail to lead.

Why Niceness Is Nice In Business

I believe niceness is nice. It’s not deceptive, unkind, or harmful to your business. Instead, being nice can help you and your team succeed in business where you may fail otherwise.

Nice works in businesses because:

  • Niceness improves morale: What happens when you’re nice to people? It doesn’t make them feel worse about themselves. Rather, you empower people. Being kind makes those you’re kind to feel better about themselves, the organization, and the leadership of the company.
  • Niceness connects your team: Being nice does more than show kindness. Being nice forms connections. Think about your friends… Do you hang around with unkind people? Or do you look for people who show compassion, understanding, and kindness? My money is on the second one. You connect with people who are nice. Be nice.
  • Your niceness will be remembered: Our leadership titles are temporary. I think back on the leaders I have worked under. Many of them are no longer in the positions they once were. Their titles are gone. However, their acts of kindness, the way they were nice, have not left my memory. When you are nice, people will remember you.
  • Being nice increases your happiness: You may think being nice to someone benefits the other person. Have you ever stopped to think that being kind can help your happiness? Research shows being nice to others can have a positive effect on your mind. 

And before you go: “Joseph, I know being nice is nice and all but what happens when I have to deal with a difficult situation? I can’t be nice then…”

Here’s the thing… You can be nice even when delivering reprimands, discipline, or firings. It’s the nice thing to do.

When you let bad behavior continue, that’s not nice. That’s harmful. You’re allowing toxic behavior to become the norm in your organization. Your once thriving organization is now a toxic swamp.

You can be nice even in your correction.

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