Being Nice in Business


Past readers will know that one of my bug bears is the way business people are portrayed in the Media – be it EastEnders (take your pick of the role models – either Phil Mitchell or Ian Beale!), Dragons Den or Alan Sugar in The Apprentice. We are not a good bunch are we?

Be Nice in Business

There is this theory – that all the candidates on The Apprentice seem only too eager to prove is that to get ahead in Business – you have to be prepared to bitch, destroy and trample over everyone. Focus means knowing what you want and getting it at any cost. If I may, I would like to mention that most of the business people that I come across (and many of them are very high profile and successful) are really nice people. They are people that you would want to work with and who see things as win-win. They see their customers as their reason to exist – not mugs who must be duped.

I have worked in large multinational businesses and I would have to say that is where I came across characters like The Apprentice entrants – never in business. If you want to be successful in business – being a nice person is a good strategy! If you want to win the rat race (and still be a rat) get a job finding the best white noise machine for a large organization.

When I was starting my career as a salesman at a battery company, I was told to get on with people at all levels – and never ever patronize or look down on people no matter what they did in a company. I took this lesson on board without any difficulty (it helps that I came from a disadvantaged background – so have always found it easier to get on with people at all levels). I remember going in to see my biggest customer – the Duty Free Shop at a major airport for the big Christmas order. If I got this sale pitch right, the whole of my sales team would win an all-expenses paid trip to Madeira (OK – not the best of destinations if you are under 80 years old – but still a free holiday is worth having).

The sales director came with me and the pitch went well but then the buyer said – “let me ask the warehouse team if we have enough space to take your stock of the best flat iron”. Because I had taken the time to get to know the back door staff they were happy to help me – and took the order.

Five years ago when I was working at another employer, a friend asked me if I would spend some time talking to a friend of hers giving them some career advice as she wanted to work in marketing for professional services. I was happy to spend ½ an hour on the phone with her. Last year I was pitching my services to a law firm – and the decision maker happened to be the same person! (I won the pitch).

It might sound very basic – but in my humble opinion, to be successful in business and in life – it pays to be nice. You do not have to stare at the mirror before a meeting shouting “I am a tiger”.

Ask yourself – what kind of people do you like working with and buying from? Well that is the kind of person you should aim to be.