Biz Etiquette 101: Why it Pays to be Nice

If there’s one piece of business advice I can’t ever stress enough, it’s simply to be – nice. People like nice people. People like to work with nice...

If there’s one piece of business advice I can’t ever stress enough, it’s simply to be – nice. People like nice people. People like to work with nice people. People like to help nice people. People do not, however, like or want to go out of their way to help someone who is mean, difficult or otherwise personality-deficient. Seems pretty simple. So why, in business, aren’t more people nicer?


Why Nice People Win in Business

Probably because “nice” is typically associated with “pushover,” “not taken seriously” and “won’t get very far.”Well this is simply not the case. You can be nice and not be any of the above misconceptions. You can also be nice and still know where to draw the line – when to say no, when to put your foot down, and when to put people in their place.

On the alternative, sure, you can bully your way to the top, make countless enemies, and earn a bad reputation, but it’s going to take you a long, lonely time to get there. And guess what? Once you’re at the top, you’re probably not going to be there very long after you’ve damaged all of your relationships.

But employ a generally friendly, pleasant demeanor in your daily business dealings (that’s not so hard, is it?), and people will not only be willing to help you get to the top, but stay there. Sure, it’s easy to write that short, curt email than to take the extra time to inject some friendly personality, just as it’s easy to say no when a colleague asks for help. Take that extra time however and I guarantee you will notice a difference in other’s interactions with you and ultimately, the growth of your business.

Of course, there is that fine line I mentioned earlier which shouldn’t be ignored either. You can be nice and also be stern, authoritative and command respect. You can be “nice” and not help every time. But go out of your way some of the time, and that person will remember the next time you need help. You scratch my back, I scratch yours. A fundamental theory that can be all too easily forgotten when we’re busy running a business.

Personally, I used to worry that I was “too nice.” That maybe using emoticons and exclamation marks in my emails was doing me a disadvantage. But four years later, I can happily say that being nice has done nothing but help me surround myself with amazing clients, contacts and colleagues. Case in point (from a liquor sponsor secured – last minute – for a recent event):


Hi Lauren,

Sounds great. We are happy to have been part of your event.

To tell you the truth the other main reason to why we (I) supported you (even though we had a little bit of a delay with the product delivery) was that you were just nice. Nice approach in e-mails, nice interaction, nice execution (and also nice follow up). We like to support nice people!

Moral of the story: you want your business to be successful? Sure, there are a lot of strategic elements you need to have in place, and there a lot of tips people can give you. But the easiest, most fundamental one – that won’t even cost you any money – is simply to be, nice.

Now that’s sweet.

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