Is Being Nice Just Good Business?

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Image courtesy of

Think about the people in your professional life who you genuinely enjoy. The ones you actively seek out for feedback and would stay a few minutes late for on a Friday if they needed your help. Chances are, the people in your professional circle are kind! Others, though, could use a bit of tutorial on good business it seems.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately – why some people lack professionalism, with no apparent regard for how they’re coming across to others. Don’t they ever feel bad? How do they go home and relax at night knowing they might have ruined someone’s entire day with their rotten attitude? Do they even think about it at all?

Well, listen up folks, because there’s more at stake than being uninvited to happy hour if your default response to your fellow (wo)man is unkindness. The truth is, treating people with anything other than respect can have the following effects on your career:

•    Passed over for projects: When teamwork is a must, so are team players. If you and I can’t have a five-minute conversation without me praying for it to end, a project spanning two weeks or longer – with a lot of interaction – would be almost unbearable. Yes, we’re all aware that dealing with difficult people is part of life. When given the option, however, most of us will avoid it at all costs.

•    Left out of the loop: A lot of valuable information can be exchanged during casual conversations, when someone stops by your desk or you bump into each other in the kitchen and get to chatting. I’ve had several project breakthroughs this way that never would have happened if the other person and I didn’t actually want to talk with each other.

•    Not fast-tracked for favors: I remember working on a project when one of my colleagues asked someone who wasn’t involved for a bit of information to include in our proposal. Their response?

“What’s in it for me? If this isn’t my project you shouldn’t be asking.”

Wow. Maybe we caught this person on a bad day. Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt. But if that’s the case, a simple “Now’s not a good time,” or “I’m sorry, but I can’t help you,” would have worked just fine without burning any bridges. In an industry where we’re constantly asked for referrals or recommendations on people to manage new business and projects, how could we recommend somebody who would be so unprofessional when asked for a simple request?

•    A lighter pocketbook: If those who are paid to work with you can barely stand it, imagine how the people paying to work with you feel – your clients?! Even if you’re nicer to them than you are to the average Joe in your office, nobody can hide their true colors forever – and you’d be surprised how fast word can spread about such things.

I’m lucky enough that the challenging folks in my life have been very few and far between – and I’ve made it a point to learn from each one of them how not to treat other people.

We all have our moments (myself definitely included), and what really matters is that you recognize areas for improvement while trying your best each day to be kinder than necessary. Remember – everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle you know nothing about.

AboutMichelle McCafferty

Michelle joined the Proforma team in 2008. As the Manager of Business Development for Major Accounts, she helps Proforma Owners win new and grow existing programs through proposal and presentation development, as well as periodic Relationship Reviews. Before joining Proforma, Michelle attended Cleveland State University where she earned a degree in Journalism and Promotional Communication.


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