The simple approach is to treat others as you would like to be treated. In September 2004, Bill Robb of Profit Improvers Ltd. presented an enjoyable interactive session on this subject to 25 Aberdeen young oil and gas professionals.
Subconsciously, we all know how to be nice and how to get what we want. As we rise up the management hierarchy, we will find that our technical expertise is not enough to ensure success. The deeper-level soft skills required cannot be delivered by a slide presentation. Instead, we need to draw on knowledge derived from our own experiences. During the 2-hour session, we explored various real-life scenarios in which something could have worked better or gone more smoothly or in which an individual could have been nicer. Two examples discussed were:
- Have you ever lost your luggage in an airport?
- Have you witnessed a colleague being ignored by the boss after handing in his or her resignation?
Some techniques are more likely to yield a more favorable outcome in such challenging situations, including putting yourself in the other person’s position and being aware of the implications of your behavior. It is important to be conscious of your body language and to control your anger and frustration, and this can be difficult if you feel your anger is justified. If you have been rude, apologize immediately.
At the end of the session, the group discussed the traits of “being nice,” including:
- Be genuine.
- Show respect for the other party/parties.
- Have a pleasant demeanor.
- Be aware of cultural differences.
- Be democratic—consult those involved and ask opinions.
- Demonstrate a willingness to compromise.
Robb stressed that being nice does not mean being “walked over.” There comes a time when you have to be firm—but you can be firm and polite at the same time.
Robb, left, talks with participants at the session.