Is Nice the New Black?

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My wife has always said (and I agreed) that the number one trait she wanted in our three boys was that they be kind.

While such a trait may not be the first one you think of when you think of how to succeed in the business world, there have recently been several best-selling books on just this idea.

Here’s a sampling of such books:

The Thank You Economy: Gary Vaynerchuk believes that now and in the future, the companies that will see the biggest returns won’t be the ones that can throw the most money at an advertising campaign, but will be those that can prove they care about their customers more than anyone else.

The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t: Robert Sutton talks about the jerks and bullies at work who demean, criticize, and sap the energy of others, usually their underlings. It could be the notorious bad boss or the jealous coworker, but everyone agrees that they make life miserable for their victims and create a hostile and emotionally stifling environment. Sutton offers alternative examples of workplaces where positive self-esteem creates a more productive, motivated, and satisfied workforce.

Nice Companies Finish First: Why Cutthroat Management Is Over–and Collaboration Is In: Peter Shankman profiles the famously nice executives, entrepreneurs, and companies that are setting the standard for success in this new collaborative world. He explores the new hallmarks of effective leadership, including loyalty, optimism, humility, and a reverence for customer service.

The Power of Nice: How to Conquer the Business World With Kindness: Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval show that “nice” companies have lower employee turnover, lower recruitment costs, and higher productivity. Nice people live longer, are healthier, and make more money. In today’s interconnected world, companies and people with a reputation for cooperation and fair play forge the kind of relationships that lead to bigger and better opportunities, both in business and in life.

And while not exactly a business book, I can’t ignore the following commencement speech turned bestseller:

Congratulations by the Way: Some Thoughts on Kindness by George Saunders. Here’s an excerpt: What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness. Those moments when another human being was there, in front of me, suffering, and I responded . . . sensibly. Reservedly. Mildly. Or, to look at it from the other end of the telescope: Who, in your life, do you remember most fondly, with the most undeniable feelings of warmth? Those who were kindest to you, I bet. It’s a little facile, maybe, and certainly hard to implement, but I’d say, as a goal in life, you could do worse than: Try to be kinder.

I’m thrilled that the value of being kind and nice are finally being recognized, something my wife knew long before they came into vogue. Thanks to her, our three boys did turn out to be three kind, successful young men.

And I can’t think of a better way to end this post than with the same words Ellen uses to close her show:

“Be kind to one another.”

Published by

Jim Borden

Accounting Prof. at Villanova; happily married for 30+ years; father of 3 outstanding young men; vegan; interests: fitness, creativity, education, blogging, social media.

4 thoughts on “Is Nice the New Black?”

  1. What a great post, and how very true. Especially for those of us tired of the PUSH PUSH PUSH society. And also exhausted by those who must be Bigger Stronger Faster Better. I think we’ve forgotten that there is nothing wrong with just being good. With doing your job well, following through on commitments, and being the best person you can be.




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  2. Good to see your post today..starting to feel the idea moving thru time. There is something in the air… your post is a lot more kind as well as more articulate than mine for certain.. but the feeling is in the air. Cheers,e




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