Why Don’t We All Just Be Nice?

Being nice is an attitude, and it should be at the top of the list of characteristics you look for in recruiting new employees. In fact, niceness should apply to all of your decisions: who you hire, who leads, and who participates on teams. When your culture aligns around niceness, you increase engagement and, along with it, productivity and performance. Being nice shows respect—and exceptional business acumen. This article explores the costs of tolerating people who don’t play nice, and the benefits of hiring those who do.

  • Think of examples when your organization, or others you’ve experienced, tolerated bad behavior, whether it was disrespect or even bullying. What were the consequences? How do bad attitudes creep into a culture, and what can you do to prevent them through your hiring and professional development practices?
  • What factors in your culture can sometimes cause bad behavior in otherwise nice people? What changes in policies and practices should you make to ensure alignment around respect?
  • How would you rank “being nice” compared to other factors usually associated with someone’s business acumen (factors like business sense and insight, and effective strategies and processes)? Why? What would be the consequences of being a leader with exceptional business acumen, but without the ability to be consistently nice to others?