Be nice

Jun 01, 2009

After 29 years observing leaders and managers in A/E/P and environmental firms (as well as many other professions and industries), I have learned that one of the keys to success is simply “being nice.” That may seem ridiculously obvious to you— you may be nice yourself. Or perhaps it isn’t— some people actually think you have to be mean and ruthless to succeed in business. Here’s more of what I am talking about: Be nice to your employees and co-workers. When you find out someone is sick, send them home! When you hear about one of their children graduating, congratulate them. Say “hi” in the morning. Sit down in the coffee room and have a real conversation where you listen more than you talk. When people know you care about them, they work harder for you. They are more pleasant to work with, too, and that makes your day better. And they watch your back because they want you to succeed. Be nice to your subconsultants and suppliers. When you don’t take every opportunity to beat someone down on their price, they will appreciate it. Ditto for not complaining about little problems that you know are being addressed. When you take an interest in your suppliers as people, they will give you better prices and be more responsive to your requests for help when you really need it. You want to be the best client or customer you can be— it will come back to you many times over. Be nice to your clients. Being nice means treating everyone in your client organizations with respect, being friendly, pleasant, and thankful for their business. This type of behavior from you makes them want to give you more business— nothing wrong with that! Be nice to your potential clients. Just because they haven’t hired you yet doesn’t mean you should be mad at them and snotty if you get an RFP. Shower them with kindness! See if it doesn’t eventually pay off. My guess is it will! Be nice to strangers. There’s a woman who lives in our town— she’s an attorney in the DA’s office— and if her name ever comes up in conversation someone will inevitably say “she’s nice.” People know other people. And they talk. I have found some amazing connections of people spanning continents. Make sure people say good things about you by being nice to everyone. Be nice to your competitors. You may team with them. You may hire them. You may buy their company some day. All this is more likely to happen (and to go well) if you are nice. Plus, it looks good to clients when you say good things about the other guy. Frequently, people say The Golden Rule today is “He who has the gold, rules!” But I don’t believe that. I think there is more wisdom in “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you!” Originally published 6/1/2009

About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.