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Nice Guys Can Finish First

Being a good person on the job can make work pleasurable

Nir Bashan headshot
Nir Bashan
Nice Guys Can Finish First

One of the most overlooked yet powerful things you can do to get ahead in your career may surprise you. It’s not necessarily having a ton of knowledge in your field. It’s not necessarily having the best or latest equipment or processing technology. And it’s not having the latest and greatest marketing campaign or outreach.

It is being easy to work with.

Often above all else, being easy to work with is critical in not only getting to that next level at work or earning that new account, but it can also mean a work life that is actually pleasurable and even rewarding. When we use creativity to look at being easy to work with, we unlock secrets that no amount of money can buy. So here is a list of three things that can make you easier to work with and more pleasurable to be around. And the benefits may go further than just your work life:

1. Just Be Cool

Work is sometimes stressful. At other times it can be downright dreadful. But no matter what, things that happen are out of your control. But what you can control – always – is the way you react to adversity. If you are the type that flies off the handle at even the slightest provocation, then you are not easy to work with.

As I write that last sentence, I think of many past co-workers who fit that description, as I’m sure you do, too. If you are quick to judge – thinking that you may know why someone is getting so stressed at work and therefore losing their cool – think again. Many times, when people get stressed, there are external factors that you may not be aware of like a difficulty at home or personal debt – the list goes on and you have no real insight.

So, what can you do? Simply be cool.

Know that you can’t control the ups and downs of everyday work stress, but you can control how you react. If you can, take a moment as things come at you and realize that they are only temporary. Know that nothing lasts forever, and the only thing we really can control is our reaction.

So, choose to react with kindness. Be cool. Measured in your response not to escalate the issues and instead try and moderate them. That one single switch that you can do today – right now – at work may pay dividends in your career aspirations – and in your personal life as well.

2. Say Yes

Try to say yes sometimes at work. I know this runs contrary to all the self-help books out there today, which encourage you to draw boundaries around your time by saying no – but I argue to become easier to work with. We need to say yes sometimes.

Saying yes allows you to be easier to work with. If a client needs something – say yes. Even if it may be out of scope. If a co-worker needs you to cover for them while they are on their, say, river cruise in Europe, say yes (even though you wish you were on that cruise instead – and how does that guy take some much time off without getting fired?). The point is that none of that matters. Just say yes.

When we say yes when we otherwise would say no, we get out of our comfort zone. And when we are out of our comfort zone, wonderful creative and innovative things end up happening. We learn something new. We discover that we really are ok with that thing we were dreading. We discover that perhaps – yes – we do like to help.

When we end up saying yes to something we otherwise say no to, we create an opportunity to experience something new, different, and novel. And when that happens, we learn and grow and explore. All of which make us easier to work with and humbles our outlook. Speaking of humble …

3. Win Hearts and Minds

You may have a PhD in economics, 30 years of experience in your given field, and a Harvard MBA. But here’s a little secret you may not know: No one gives two shits about what you know. Trust me. No one cares. Folks may care eventually if they know that what you know may help them in some way.

While that may sound harsh, if you are able to win hearts and minds instead of trying to bulldoze over people with your knowledge – then guess what? You’re being easy to work with. And being easy to work with is the surefire way to generate creativity and innovation in all that you do.

When we try to win hearts and minds instead of trying to show everyone how smart we are, we take the humane path in our career. We take the path of empathy. The path of collaboration. The path of teamwork. Now, after you have won some hearts and minds by showing that you care, then you can use your knowledge base to affect change.

So much has been written and said about acquiring knowledge and going to the right university and having the right career history, but seldom do we talk about the soft skills that are critical in the furtherment of our career or business. If we are not dialed into winning hearts and minds, we will never get where we need to go at work. And this may also become a stumbling block to getting where you need to go in your personal life as well. Win the hearts and minds before you show someone how much you know. It’s an effective way to be much easier – and more pleasant – to work with.

I am confident that the above three rules from the book of creativity and innovation are helpful to you on your journey to get more accounts, grow your business and ultimately create more impact in your career or business. Too often we are busy chasing false prophets in the name of improvement or efficiency or optimization. Because at the end of the day, just simply making the choice to be easier to work with is far more powerful than the alternative. One more thing: When we learn how to become easy to work with, we then unleash a magnetism that makes us attractive to do business with. And that attraction is something no amount of dollars we spend can generate.

This article was originally published in the Mortgage Banker Magazine February 2023 issue.
Nir Bashan headshot
Nir Bashan

Nir Bashan is a Top 100 nonfiction book of all time author and speaker. He helps folks become more innovative and creative at work.

Published on
Feb 02, 2023
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