Do you have ideas about the approach it takes to succeed in business? On some level, does it involve being ruthless, cut-throat, or even screwing people over? OK so maybe your versions are a bit less extreme than this. Maybe it’s more like pushing people to get the most out of them, or driving a tough bargain, or even being brutally efficient. These ideas have some merit (and you certainly don’t want to be a walk-over), but I’d like to propose that it is possible to be nice in business – and still be wildly successful.
In the last few months, the shock of some personal health issues have caused me to reflect on what’s important.
Growing a successful business is important, but not at all costs. Behaving in accordance to our values is something we can easily lose sight of and I think the simple act of being nice is all it takes to be someone that you’re proud of. And you can certainly ‘be nice’ in the process of growing a successful business. In fact, being nice along the way makes the process of growing a business much more enjoyable – for you and everyone around you!
At this time of the year especially, when it seems that most people are stressed about all kinds of things, being nice can actually be a huge attribute. Put yourself in someone elses’ shoes and throw some kindness into the world. It doesn’t have to cost you much and it might just come back to you tenfold.
Here’s some ideas to get you thinking…
Be Nice to Your Staff
Remember, they’ve probably got families to worry about, including things they haven’t told you, and although you may be frustrated by their short-comings, maybe they’re also disappointed in their own performance at work right now.
Cut them some slack and give them a compliment. Take a moment to tell them how much you appreciate their efforts. Or give them some extra time to run an errand. Or take 5 minutes to write a little note to attach to a bunch of flowers or a bottle of wine.
Even if you’ve been working shoulder to shoulder for the last 40+ hours and their annoying habits are getting under your skin, take a moment to recognise something that they do well.
Be Nice to Your Customers
It’s true that some customers are really difficult. With some people, it seems like they’re never going to be happy and their mission in life is to suck any joy out of your day.
But before you take offense, roll your eyes, or get angry yourself, consider that maybe you don’t know the full story. Maybe that customer who just complained about your service or your pricing is actually pushed to their limits from parenting a disabled child every day. Maybe they’ve just found out that their sister has terminal cancer. Maybe they’re wondering how they’re going to pay their mortgage this month. Or maybe their spouse just left them for another lover.
Ok, so it’s probably not as bad as that. But they probably do have many issues that you don’t know about that have shaped this person’s behaviour. So cut them some slack!
Give them a little something extra with their order. Catch their eye and give them a knowing nod or smile. Or just let them know that you appreciate having them as a customer. Take the time to make a connection – not just a transaction.
Be Nice to Your Suppliers
Using a contractor that’s a pain in the bum to deal with? Is your key supplier often late to deliver? What about the lady at the post-office desk that moves at a snail’s pace?
Instead of getting annoyed, try going out of your way to give them a genuine thank-you for their efforts. Find something positive you can compliment them on and deliver it wholeheartedly. Or empathise about something so that they realise you see them as a person. (For example; “I know it must be so difficult to deal with customers like us that are always in a hurry…”.)
You’ll stand out as a special customer which might just come in handy some time in the future.
Be Nice to Your Partner
Got a business partner? When was the last time you went out of your way for them? Maybe it’s time to share a few words of kindness to let them know you appreciate them. Or maybe you’ve forgotten to show some simple kindness and gratitude towards your life partner. This blog is about business, but in many cases our life partners put up with an awful lot because of our businesses. Sing their praises in front of others, thank them for something specific, or just do something extra nice for them today. Let them know that their efforts or patience haven’t gone unnoticed.
When You’re Nice in Business…
Being nice to someone often gives the recipient a warm feeling inside. Just a small gesture can change someone’s outlook, which can change the course of their day. And chances are that your act of kindness might help them to see another side to you too… which might just help them be more understanding of your own faults 🙂
And while you’re being nice in business, try also being nice in other situations. For example; when you’re driving, when you’re shopping, when you’re at family events and even when you’re at home with your nearest and dearest.
It’s not hard and makes everyone’s day a whole lot better!