It Does Pay to Be Nice

A recent article in the “Sunday Review” section of the New York Times entitled “No Time to Be Nice,” bemoaned the fact that simple courtesies and civility are lacking in many workplaces these days. The subhead read: “We’re rude at work, and it’s hurting profits, health and happiness.” To that I would add career success.

This article included some scary stuff. For instance, it noted:

“Many are skeptical about the returns of civility. A quarter (polled in the NYT survey) believe that they will be less leader-like, and nearly 40% are afraid that they’ll be taken advantage of it they are nice at work.”

Wow! I wouldn’t want to work for one of those bosses or with those colleagues.

Will Civility Return?

But all is not lost. The article goes on to say, “Although in surveys people say they are afraid they will not rise in an organization if they are really friendly and helpful, the civil do succeed. Behavior involving politeness and regard for others in the workplace pays off. In a study in a biotechnology company, those seen as civil were twice as likely to be viewed as leaders.”

It concludes with a great point. “In every interaction you have a choice. Do you want to lift people up or hold them down?”

I choose to do my best to lift up the people around me. Being friendly and helpful has helped me greatly in my career. This doesn’t mean that I never disagree with a colleague.  But when I do disagree, I do it in a respectful manner—one that doesn’t attack the person or his or her self-esteem.

The article provided a list of common rude workplace behaviors coming from bosses and colleagues. I’m a big believer in positive models, so I have turned their rude behaviors into my list of the best positive workplace behaviors. Check them out.

  • When someone asks how you’re doing, respond positively. Say something like, “Great, and you?”
  • Accept the differences and quirks of others—don’t judge them.
  • Do your fair share of the work, not just the easy tasks.
  • Listen to understand the thoughts and emotions behind the spoken words.
  • Work hard to understand the reasons why someone disagrees with you.
  • Share the credit. Take the blame when it’s due.
  • Be fully engaged—not multitasking—during meetings.
  • Give others your full attention when you’re in conversation with them. Put people before
  • Respond to meeting invites, even if it is to decline them.
  • Say “please” and “thank you.”
  • Smile often.

Put these behaviors to work and watch your career flourish. People react positively. As my grandmother used to say, “You get more flies with honey than vinegar.”

  • Bud Bilanich

    Bud Bilanich, The Common Sense Guy, is a success coach, motivational speaker, author and blogger. He is a faculty member at the Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver where he teaches courses in Organizational Dynamics and Human Capital Management. Bud has written five books on career and life success, which are the basis of his Common Sense Success System.


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