Too Nice Or Too Nasty To Be Successful In Business?

Nice-DayA friend sent me an email which said I was too nice. Those weren’t the exact words, but that was the message.

And then I read in the papers that a couple of the athletes had been exhibiting behaviour which some have decided is too nasty. Actually the precise quote was this:

“…what it showed was that for these athletes, it’s not just the taking part that counts. The Paralympics, like all sport, is ultimately about “hard bastards trying to win stuff”.

Ooh, that’s quite in yer face, isn’t it? Is either opinion true, I wonder? Am I too nice? Are athletes hard bastards? Or is an opinion just that, an opinion, not a fact?

I know I’m not hard enough to be a medal-winning Olympic or Paralympic athlete. No doubt about that. But am I too nice to be a businesswoman who earns her living sharing her love and expertise with others who want to achieve at least as much success as I have enjoyed in my career? No, definitely not.

So how much value is appropriate for us to place on the opinion of others?

It’s probably a question only you can answer for yourself but another kind friend did some numerology for me and this issue of being too nice came up. I am really engaged by my work right now and falling in love with my clients all over again but sometimes I have been known to say that I find the people draining, yes I do. And it takes something for a Nice Woman to admit that, I can tell you.

So what’s changed? I’ve found the strength increasingly to say no to people asking me to do things which suit their own agenda but not necessarily my own.

But the thing I did yesterday which caused the “too nice” comment demonstrates behaviour which I shall not be changing, and here’s why.

I go the extra mile for clients. I love them. It’s my USP, it’s a core theme my marketing, it’s part of my operating system and I think it’s probably in my DNA. It’s who I am. I have written many blogs and at least one book on the topic of loving your work and your clients and being the change you want to see in the world, so I choose to walk my talk and live my  loving pink brand.

As one lovely client once said to me: “Love is your killer app, Judith”. I put out love into the world and it returns to me multiplied. I am also infinitely patient and respectful.

I didn’t have to do the nice thing in question, no.  It was my choice because I know the particular circumstances of the person to whom I did the kindness and I admire what she’s doing in her life right now on several counts. Also she’s been a paying client of mine in the  past and that generally guarantees you my lifelong care and concern. It felt like the least I could do to demonstrate my support from the convenience of my soft and comfy bed with my iPad at my elbow. I didn’t even question it, it was so easy. It was, quite simply, The Right Thing for me to do.

Gifts of such thoughtfulness are not given out willy nilly, although part of me thinks perhaps they ought to be, and indiscriminately at that. They have been withheld from those I consider (usually temporarily) undeserving. OK, I’ll admit it, that is rare, but it has been known to go both ways. And now that I think of that, I’m not proud of it. It seems petty. And judgemental.

I’m sure many people would agree with my correspondent but I am not sure how much I should care, despite defending my behaviour robustly. If I want the opinions of others, I’ll ask and sometimes I do. Not a lot, because I am a woman who knows her own mind and doesn’t seek the good opinion of others all that often, although I enjoy it when it comes; we all do, don’t we?

But this is my business and I will demonstrate the leadership of it in any way I think fit. I may not always get it right, I probably err on the soft side and I’ll never get that gold medal for being a hard bastard, but that’s OK by me.

What do you think? To what extent do you think you need to be nice or nasty to be successful in business?

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