Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Power of Nice by Linda Kaplan Thaler & Robin Koval

Nice guys do not finish last. According to advertising executives Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval, authors of The Power of Nice, kindness, generosity, empathy pay off even in the business world.

Kindness is a great way to make a positive impression, and those impressions can come back multiplied. In addition, you never know when the one you’re showing kindness to someone who has the will and means to extravagantly repay you, though you shouldn’t go around with a fake generosity hoping some of your supposed goodness will bind a jinni to your service. Be good because it is good, but don’t be surprised when the little people you help along the way become big people who want to help you.

Niceness should become automatic, a way you treat people all the time, whoever they are. You’ll know when you’re being genuine and when you’re being fake, and let the knowledge lead you to be genuinely kind. Extend it to cover even your rivals; if you can’t convert them, you’ll neutralize them to some degree.

Even if you don’t have much to give, be a giver. Even little gestures, smiles, and a helpful hand count. One of the seemingly most simple, but in practice difficult, things to give is your attention. Few things move a person as much as the sense that someone genuinely listened to them; and it is a great way to learn.

The skill at the heart of all this is empathy. I use the word skill because Kaplan Thaler and Koval write about how people can improve their empathy. First, listen to the emotion words; people are telling you how they feel if you will listen. Consider how what you say and do will affect others. Finally, don’t assume the actions of others are about you; they have other stuff going on.

This is a short book and full of anecdotes. If you’re looking for a quick read touching on the emotional side of business with practical advice, this will suit your needs.

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Kaplan Thaler, Linda, & Robin Koval. The Power of Nice: How to Conquer the Business World with Kindness. New York: Currency, 2006.