You will make more money and have a better career and life if you are nice – even to jerks. I’ll admit that this is much easier for me to say than to do. But let me illustrate this idea with a story.
I recently returned from a short visit to Israel. I have been spending time there since 1979 and noticed what great changes had come about over the last 33 years. On my first trip there, nobody knew what a line was. It seemed like everyone pushed and shoved all the time. My experience back then was that people weren’t really worried about being nice in public places. They were worried about survival.
On my most recent visit however things couldn’t have been more different. I saw lines formed everywhere. People were patient. They were even very civil in parking lots – yielding coveted spots to others rather than arguing over them as they would in years gone by.
Of course Israel is a much stronger economy now and the people are far more affluent than they were 3 decades earlier. That could be why they seem nicer. Also, these were just my experiences. I am sure you could find rude people no matter where you visit throughout the world. No matter. I am convinced that being kind and civil actually creates wealth rather than being a bi-product of it.
How does being nice make you money?
You already know that you will make more money if you are nice. On a micro level, you will do far better with others when you are kind. The old adage is true. You will do better with a pinch of sugar than with a pound of salt. People want to help people they like. People feel good about it. When you are doing business with someone, take an interest in them and see how quickly the benefits flow back to you.
Here’s a quick simple story that illustrates this idea. While my daughter and I were having lunch in Israel, I started talking to the waiter. He seemed really energetic and happy about his job. I am asked him why he liked working there so much.
He was startled that someone had noticed him and was only too happy to tell me his thoughts. Later on, he delivered a delicious piece of cake to our table as a gift – no charge. Of course my intent wasn’t to score an extra 6000 calorie freebie. All I did was take an interest in this young man and he appreciated it. I think people will look for ways to show their appreciation to you if you simply demonstrate that you care.
Also, being nice is attractive – and being unkind is ugly. After we had lunch, we went into an art store to browse. The seller in the store was nice to us of course. But she was bossy and unkind to her staff. Her behavior took all the fun out being there and we couldn’t wait to get out of the store. The bottom line is that being nice attracts business and not being nice repels people who might otherwise do business with you. This is one of the great secrets of business success.
Some people think that being too nice is a fault. That can be true. You can be taken advantage of if you go too far. I believe the best (and most difficult) approach is to find a balance. You do that by being nice to others and being nice to yourself at the same time. Treat yourself as you would treat others. If you wouldn’t stand by and watch someone else being taken advantage of or being treated poorly, don’t stand for it when it happens to you.
This is difficult for many of us. I see this in myself at times too. Still, given the choice, you will do far better in life and business if you err on the side of kindness.
How has being kind to others helped you in life and in your profession? Do you disagree and think you have to be tough in order to make it in your career or business?