Be Nice to People

Be Nice.

It won’t be the first time you heard this advice that’s for sure. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people talk about the importance of being nice to others, and how many different ways there are to say this. So, what I will share with you instead is a little story that stuck in my mind ever since the day it was told to me by the CEO of a multi-billion dollar company.

This CEO and I were in an interview and I’d just asked him a pretty standard question along the lines of, ‘What’s important to you?’. He answered that being nice to people was something he believed in for a number of reasons. Then he went on to tell me about a time when he was a junior exec, travelling on business with his CEO.

The two execs pulled up to an airport in a taxi.

An airport services porter opened the trunk of the cab to take out their cases. As the big boss got out, he barked at the porter to be careful with his bag because it was expensive and he was in a hurry.

Through the junior executive’s eyes, there was no need for his boss to treat the porter this way. So, to try and make amends, as his boss scurried into the terminal, our man exited the cab, gave the porter a tip, and then asked him a question, just because he was curious,

‘How do you deal with people talking to you like that every day?’

The porter looked him in the eye and answered, ‘How do I deal with people like your Boss? Well, you’re flying to LA right? You’re a nice guy so your bag is going to LA. Your boss, he’s not so nice, so his bags are going to Dallas’.

We live in a world where there’s not always an immediate penalty for rudeness,

But I found this story memorable because it said a lot about the person telling it, and what they believed was important. This story more than answered my question, it also neatly explained how this guy thought there was no excuse for bad behaviour. In addition, I think this little story also showed there is often a better, simpler way for work and everyday life to be conducted. How much time is cost in delays caused by one person making life more difficult for another? How much better do we feel when our interactions are positive, maybe even warm?

On the day I first heard this story and ever since,

Lessons like these have never been far from my mind. This story may not resonate in the same way with everyone – we all have our own ‘hot buttons’ and moments for pennies to drop – but there are plenty of other stories that will have the same effect on you if this one leaves you cold. There’s also no shortage of subjects for us to connect with either.

Today, this funny little story still gets me thinking about great career questions.

How do we behave when we think we can get away with it? How does it make us feel when someone is nice, considerate, thoughtful or mindful of us, whether we are at work, at home or anywhere else? How much does this little story, or a similar story of your own, remind you how important little things can be?

Until the next time, thank you for reading, feel free to share a story of your own, and Keep Exploring Your Career!

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