In The Power of Nice, through their own experiences and the stories of other people and businesses, they demonstrate why, contrary to conventional wisdom, nice people finish first.
The Power of Nice
For years, we have loved a particular security guard in our Manhattan office building. In fact, most of us at The Kaplan Thaler Group think the world of him. A large, jovial man in his mid-fifties, Frank brightens people’s days by giving everyone who walks into our building a huge, warm greeting. “Hello, Linda!” “Hello, Robin!” he’ll say. “Happy Friday!”
Frank’s engaging banter changed the way we started work in the morning. Instead of simply flashing our passes anonymously and making a beeline for the elevator, we found ourselves seeking out Frank and making sure to say hello. He set a positive tone for the entire day. But we never considered how Frank might be helping our business, other than preventing intruders from entering the premises.
That is, until the day Richard Davis, the president and COO of U.S. Bank, the sixth-largest bank in the United States, came to see us. For months, our entire team at The Kaplan Thaler Group had been working to create a pitch that would wow Davis and win us the huge U.S. Bank account.
At the time of the Davis’s visit, it was down to the wire. We were one of two agencies still in the running for the account. Davis and his team were flying in from their executive offices in Minneapolis to meet personally with us. We didn’t realize it at the time, but in fact Davis and his staff were a bit apprehensive about the kind of treatment they’d get in New York City. The furious pace and hard-bitten ‘out of my way’ attitude of the Big Apple had become part of the mythology of the city. They were afraid we would be too cold, too aloof.
But when Richard Davis and his team walked into our building, they received a warm, enthusiastic greeting from Frank. When Davis reached our offices a few minutes later, he was gushing about the friendly security guard. “This guy gave me a huge hello!” he said. “And all of a sudden, I thought how could I not want to work with a company that has someone like Frank? How can I feel anything but good about hiring an agency like that?” We won the account.
Of course, Davis wouldn’t have awarded us the job if he wasn’t impressed with our work. But we’ve gotta give Frank credit. With a multimillion-dollar account in the balance, it was Frank’s warm hello that helped us cinch the deal.
That is the power of nice.
Nice is not naïve
Nice does not mean smiling blandly while others walk all over you. Nice does not mean being a doormat. In fact, we would argue that nice is the toughest four-letter word you’ll ever hear. It means moving forward with the clear-eyed confidence that comes from knowing that being very nice and placing other people’s needs on the same level as your own will get you everything you want.
Think about it:
- Nice is luckier in love. People who are low-key and congenial have one-half the divorce rate of the general population, says a University of Toronto study.
- Nice makes more money. According to Professor Daniel Goleman, who conducted research on how emotions affect the workplace for his book Primal Leadership, there is a direct correlation between employee morale and the bottom line. One study found that every 2 percent increase in the service climate–that is, the general cheerfulness and helpfulness of the staff–saw a 1 percent increase in revenue.
- Nice is healthier. A University of Michigan study found that older Americans who provide support to others–either through volunteer work or simply by being a good friend and neighbor–had a 60 percent lower rate of premature death than their unhelpful peers.
- Nice spends less time in court. One study found that doctors who had never been sued spoke to their patients for an average of three minutes longer than physicians who had been sued twice or more, reports Malcolm Gladwell in his book Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking.