There is a character in the show “Guys and Dolls” called Nicely Nicely Johnson. He always answered “nicely, nicely, thank you” when asked how he was. He was always one of my favourite characters. I loved his name when I was a kid, and I still do now.
“Nice” is a much underrated word. I have often heard it used as an insult and I have been told countless times in life that I am too nice. How can anyone be too nice? I have always taken it as a compliment, even though it is usually meant as a put-down.
So what makes a “good” employer?
Well, an employer that people want to work for is “nice” to their employees. Is that such a crime? Surely, being nice to people makes it a more pleasant world for everyone.
You may have to do many things as an employer which neither you, nor your staff, like doing. If there is a downturn in business for some reason, then it may be necessary to lay people off or make them redundant. If someone misbehaves or breaks the rules, then you will have to discipline them. If someone cannot do the job for some reason, then you need to deal with it. If someone is off sick a great deal, you may need to take action. In the worst extremes, that could mean someone loses their job. None of these things is pleasant or “nice” to do.
So how can I be “nice” when I have to do these things?
“It’s not what you do, it’s the way that you do it – and that’s what gets results”, as the song says.
When I was a little girl, I embroidered a present for my aunt. Based on a Native American prayer, it included the line “never criticise a man until you have walked a mile in his moccasins”. It is very easy for managers to get caught up in the everyday pressures of running a business or a team. It can be difficult to see beyond the goal or the deadline or the budget. But try imagining what the other person may be feeling or going through. How would that make you feel?
Next time you have to deal with a difficult situation with an employee – or with anyone else for that matter – try to “walk in their moccasins” for a few minutes. Treat them how you would like to be treated in their situation. It will change the way you handle the issue and make it more pleasant for everyone.
Oh – and the good thing about being “nice” is that it makes you feel better too. You may find it takes some of the stress out of a difficult day.
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