“Too nice?” 3 reasons nice guys and gals often survive and thrive at work
Posted by Holly Edgell on January 11, 2015
“It’s easy to think of the workplace as something like a battleground—a place where only the tough survive. But what if the tables were turned? What if, instead of rewarding harsh and ruthless behavior, the most successful people among us were actually, gulp, kind?” — OPEN Forum (American Express)
I am a nice person. How do I know this? People having been saying it for years, in a variety of ways:
“Nobody doesn’t like Holly.” (Not true, by the way. One colleague of mine told another: “Talking to Holly gives me a headache”).
“Holly? She never says anything mean.”
“You’re so positive all the time!”
“You’re so nice!”
The first comment I take as an observation of fact. It was relayed to me by someone I trust and respect, and I believe he considers my like-ability an asset.
Otherwise, the implication about being nice is that nice guys and gals finish last; that being nice will get in your way, especially in journalism–where many professionals still pride themselves on being crusty, crude and cynical. And yet, here I am.
“Acting aloof, or above your employees, does not make a leader. Leaders have to be able to talk and listen to their employees on all levels of the company. At the same time, they must have the respect of their employees, the kind of respect that’s earned by being honest, having integrity, and being tough but fair.” Fast Company
Three ways in which–in my opinion–being nice is a winner.
- Nice does not equate to weak. A person can be polite and friendly without being a pushover. In fact, being amiable can work wonders in an environment that requires collaboration and teamwork.
- Nice does not equate to fake. Believe it or not, there are many journalists who genuinely like people! We can be very effective in working with sources and stakeholders, and we have a built-in toolkit for conversations and decisions that require a degree of delicacy.
- Nice + knowledge = power. People who are genuinely pleasant, kind and generous and who are also great at their jobs are often those who go the distance in their careers.
To what degree can “nice” be learned?
I am not sure. But, for people are genuinely nice and have been advised to dial back the amiability, it could be time to re-evaluate. You can be both nice and successful at work.
TIP: Nice people are often humble and modest about their achievements. Show your “wins” by sharing examples of your work and ways in which you successfully collaborated with others to complete a project; improve a process; or solved a problem. Email, much-maligned, is good way to let your boss and colleagues know what you’ve been up to and puts these victories on the record. Compile your wins throughout the year, so you have them handy at annual evaluation time!
- Top 10 qualities of a great leader (Forbes.com)
- The 5 characteristics of great leaders (Fast Company)
- Cool to to be kind: The advantages of being altruistic (The Independent)