Over the years in business and in my personal life, I have learned that it costs nothing to be nice – other than having a potential mindset change. Much has been written about this and nothing really has changed except that we need to remind ourselves about this often. Some people call this “Paying It Forward”. I am fine with that but only with the caveat of expecting nothing in return.
I could tell many stories about how I practice this daily with not only business people but also with my peers, acquaintances and many other people I interact with. You would be amazed to find out what showing up with a box of doughnuts or cookies makes to people at a golf clubhouse. Also engaging with a waiter or waitress and asking about their lives plus leaving a few more dollars on the tip – it probably means more to them than to you.
I recently read an article about how to approach people for the first time and it gave many good ideas – one of which is to engage them like a friend you have known – with a big, enthusiastic smile and at the same time being authentic. Seems obvious, right? But can you practice this regularly? If you know me, you will quickly learn that I am “hugger”. That is to say, I give both men and women hugs whenever I greet them. Some people may say this is inappropriate and in some cultures it is and sometimes appears to be inappropriate at the workplace. But I am willing to take the risk because it is who I am and how I want to be.
A few years ago a Human Resource manager said “Hey Mark, come give me a hug.” She did so in front of many directors and VP's and they were shocked about this. One even asked me what that was all about. I simply explained that I had formed a close, professional connection with her. I wonder if he learned anything from me.
If I have to list out a few books that caused a real shift in the way I think, then I would go for – ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ by Dale Carnegie and ‘The Power of Nice’ by Linda Kaplan and Robin Koval. I read Dale Carnegie’s book for the first time when I was in high school and I’ve probably read it 30+ times by now. The second book – The Power of Nice is a quick read and talks about how to conquer the business world with kindness.
Those books really changed how I interacted with people. By employing these skills I have been able to land more career opportunities, make more friends, and live a happier life. I hope you get a chance to read either or both the books.
Keep in mind that your choice to remain humble and kind can make a great impact on this world. So be nice to everyone, always. It will certainly make your life more joyful and comfortable.