Take My Advice and Be Nice

I have a twist on a common adage. Nice guys finish, instead of nice guys finish last. Many times, we attach a negative to the concept of being nice. We view niceness as a form of weakness. If someone is nice, we see them as vulnerable, and subject to being exploited. But the definition of nice does not concede toughness and effectiveness.

Dictionary.com defines nice as, characterized by, showing, or requiring great accuracy, precision, skill, tact, care, or delicacy. Miriam-Webster dictionary lists synonyms for nice to include kind, polite, pleasing, agreeable, appropriate, fitting, socially acceptable, virtuous, and respectable. We could also include trustworthiness.

The definitions and synonyms paint a picture of attributes that we should admire in each other and our associates. But something is lost when we decide to filter nice through the lens of our prospective, and degrade, mislabel, and misinterpret information. These misconceptions may cause us to be condescending and devalue the people who work for us and underestimate their performance.

A company surveyed their customers in a customer satisfaction exercise. They wanted to see, through surveys and interviews, how their sales representatives were perceived by their customers. The word nice came up consistently relative to their competitors. Each group of interviewers reached the same conclusion. The clients enjoyed being with the sales of representatives and thought they were, nice.

The company decided that the word nice was a deficiency and needed to be changed in the minds of the prospects. They viewed nice as weak and therefore, ineffective in a maliciously competitive environment. Nice was a part of the corporate brand in the minds of their customers, which needed to be changed. Nice was not good, and everyone knew that nice guys finished last.

An anti-nice message was delivered to the sales team. They were made to feel inadequate versus competitor companies. Tension was created between the Home Office and the sales force, as they launched allegations against each other. This was a perfect opportunity to capitalize on the relationships built by the sales team with their customers.

Since they owned the nice space in the minds of customers; rather than viewing nice as a negative, building on this favorable perception was an option. Rather than work on a make-over to change their sales representatives into the image of the dominant competitor, exploit the niche of being nice. They should use the perception of nice to gain permission to ask the right questions. They should use the attribute of nice to increase customer interactions and create a space to ask for more business.

Relationships are a key part of the sales process. Individuals with high emotional intelligence can translate this skill into greater customer service, greater customer confidence, customer loyalty and greater sales performance. People like to buy from people whom they know, like, trust and respect. Nice individuals may have skills that are admirable attributes to their clients. You generally like to hire nice people, because it is difficult to create nice people, if you do not have them. You may teach people nice habits and practices, but if they are not nice by nature, in the middle of a crisis or difficult situation, they may relapse to their original tendencies. How often have you heard someone compliment someone who was not a nice person?

The Marriott Corporation’s excellent customer service reputation was addressed in an interview with a business publication. They were asked how they were able to train people to be personable and nice, which attributed to their superb customer service. The head of their training department indicated that they did not have a training program to teach this skill, they addressed this skill in the hiring process. In other words, they hired nice people and trained them on the other things, they needed to know.

There is value in hiring and developing nice people, for they are usually seen as trustworthy. Their personality, service acumen and ability to get along with others, makes them potentially strong members of your team, company/organization, or partners in your relationships. There are individuals who are “too nice” and cannot ask tough questions, take risks or be persistent. These individuals may not be the ones appropriate for your business. But likability alone should not be a detriment to a person’s success.

Nice people finish with relationships that can be created and strengthened. They can be there in the end because people want them around. Nice people have a commitment to service and to people, which makes them desirable members to help you in your quest toward greatness and serving clients. They can often go places and gain business where others have not earned permission. If someone comes across as too good to be true, too nice to be right, vet them as you would any other individual. Do not discount them immediately because they are nice. Because the right nice guys/gals have a reputation or the potential to finish strong.

Copyright © 2020 Orlando Ceaser

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