Being Nice.

February 20, 2011

Being nice is important. That seems simple, right? The sad truth is that not everyone is nice and people notice. It’s a fact (feel free to argue this with me) that people are more polite based on their geographic location. I live in NJ. I notice that people are more polite when I visit other parts of the country. I’m not saying that the people are inherently nicer and that people that live in NJ are evil, but in general this has been my experience.

Last week I was visiting the airport lounge in Toronto. I walked in a smiled and said hello to the attendant at the front desk. I didn’t have my airline gold card with me, but he let me in anyway. His colleagues remarked that it was because I was nice and even said to me “you catch more flies with honey.”  I make it a point to be nice to waiters, bartenders, taxi drivers and doormen. I am astonished sometimes when I hear the way that people treat those that they view as inferior.

Yesterday, my friend Diana made a comment to me about many sales people are not as nice as they should be . Many (not all) sales people are very nice until you try and negotiate with them or until you get a signed contract. Once that happens they turn off the nice button.  I understand that negotiating contracts requires a certain degree of distance, but that doesn’t mean that people shouldn’t be nice.  Once someone becomes your client, the nice factor should increase, not decrease.

The same rules of being nice apply to online communication. This is especially true for individuals that are building personal brands. Just because you are smart and have a great idea doesn’t mean that you can treat people with less respect. In fact, if you are someone that is influential, you have to be even more careful because people actually listen to what you have to say. If you are going to voice a negative opinion on the Internet then you have to be prepared for the consequences. In some cases you might accomplish the same result by offering to coach them than by criticizing them.

Every day I think about being nice and how I can improve the lives of the people around me with a kind thought or gesture. Some people might just call this common courtesy – I call it being nice.

So whether you are checking into a hotel, order a drink at Starbucks or engaging in a discussion on Twitter, think about being nice to another person. It’s good for your brand and your karma.