Monday, April 29, 2013

Do “Nice” People Really Finish Last?

Consider these words from Charles Kuralt:

“The everyday kindness of the back roads more than makes up for the acts of greed in the headlines.” 

None of us live in a vacuum.  Our words and our actions do have an effect on those around us.  Many times that fact is forgotten amidst the negative focus of our news and media.

Many of us get wrapped up in climbing the ladder and achieving some arbitrary level of success.  We may even come to believe that the “ends justify the means”.

I don’t think it needs to be that way.  I don’t believe that we need to choose between success and being “nice”.  We can have both.

In fact, I believe that the more likable we are, the more we can achieve.  People naturally gravitate towards nice people.  We want them as our friends and we go to them for advice and understanding.

Likable people are not self-centered.  They genuinely care about others and are willing to take the time to cultivate a friendship through concrete actions.  Despite having a busy day, they will meet a friend for lunch or take that phone call.  It is not all about them.

So why not take that “likability” and apply it to how you do business?

For example, as entrepreneurs we all know our focus should be on providing a quality product that solves a problem or fulfills a need that helps our customers.  Having this as our focus allows us to concentrate on our clients and partner with them so that they can achieve their own success.

Therefore, as we do in our private lives, we can take the qualities associated with being nice and likable and focus them on our clients.  We can take the time to reach out.  We can check in with them to see their progress or just to say hello.

The emphasis should be on what we can do for them, not on making a sale or pushing our latest and greatest.  If we conduct our business with that in mind, I believe we will better serve our existing clients and attract new ones.

The truth is, any time you make your business decisions based only on your own priorities, those priorities are misguided.  

Instead, those decisions should be made on what your clients want or need.

In my opinion, being likable in business is the same as being likable in your personal life.   By “humanizing” your business, you are able to start real conversations with your clients, like we do with our friends, and create a genuine relationship.

So, to answer the question I posed at the beginning of this article, Do “nice” people finish last?  My answer is a resounding NO!  I believe nice and likable people achieve the true success we should all strive to obtain!

*This article has also been published on LinkedIn blogs.

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