In the 1970’s, singer Nick Lowe lamented (quite successfully) that being cruel to be kind is a good thing.
While that may be true when ending a relationship, and I’m not saying it is, kindness – not cruelty or meanness – most assuredly matters in business.
I recently observed examples of both kindness and meanness in business situations, and for the life of me, I could not understand the necessity of, or reason for, the meanness that was exhibited.
Yes, in business, the goal is to get ahead of the competition and to reach or exceed your goals. However, believe it or not, how you get there is also vitally important.
Professionally, your most valuable asset is not your education or experience; it’s your reputation.
If your actions or in-actions lead to the presentation of a mean person or organization, your reputation within the business community will quickly begin to reflect that demeanor, whether or not it is actually true.
As Benjamin Franklin is often quoted as saying, “It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.”
Think about the businesses you work with, or the products/services you purchase. Do you spend your hard-earned money on businesses and people with good reputations, or those with bad reputations?
Have you ever stopped using a product, service, or business because they were involved in a negative incident? I know I have, and I know many others who do as well.
We've all heard, and probably said at one time, “Business is a dog eat dog world.” Yes, it certainly is.
In my "Who Am I?" blog, I referenced the “It’s not personal, it’s business” philosophy as exhibited in the movie, You've Got Mail. Yes, again, it’s business.
However, being kind to the person or people you are doing business with takes less effort than being mean. By being kind, I don’t mean ignore the business opportunity your competitor doesn't see or cannot take advantage of that is also right in front of your face.
It means simple things like promptly returning emails, phone calls or texts. It means letting people know that you received the information or request they sent to you, and providing an approximate timeline for a response.
It also means not embarrassing, demeaning or belittling your competitor or colleague in front of others – ever. These behaviors are not only unprofessional; they are mean and uncalled for.
In the words of former First Lady Barbara Bush, “Never lose sight of the fact that the most important yardstick of your success will be how you treat other people - your family, friends, and coworkers, and even strangers you meet along the way.”
Editor’s Note: This post also appears on LinkedIn.
Before founding her own consulting firm, Dawn Gannon served as a respected project management and administrative operations professional in the military, higher education, and healthcare fields for 25 years. As a Lean/Six Sigma Green Belt, Dawn’s commitment and personal mission to improve the lives of others through service to the community focuses on providing administrative and volunteer management, consumer education, public outreach, event planning, relationship-building efforts, and strategic planning. She is a contributor on LinkedIn, the author of the Management in Motion blog, and has written a number of articles for RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association on the topic of childfree living.