In Business, It Pays To Be Nice

Our self-centered, get ahead world often seems like a place where being “nice” isn’t going to get you very far. Just look at what you see on TV or in the movies, never mind the persistent myth that, “Nice guys finish last”, that women only like the “bad boys”.
Strange then that being humble is a core value of one of the most rapidly growing businesses of the last decade, Zappos.com. Today the company’s annual sales are over a billion dollars, and part of the reason is that they are nice to customers and employees.
Makes you think, doesn’t it?
Then there’s this. Research by Alex Edmans of the Wharton School has found that businesses appearing in Fortune magazine’s 100 Best Companies To Work For in America also have consistently higher stock return than companies of similar size. Zappos was near the top of that list for 2012, reportedly offering employees $1,500 parting bonus after their initial two week training to quit if they don’t think the job will be one they’ll love. Few take the offer.
Which raises the question… does being nice “pay” in life, and in business.
It just might. Science has identified the biology behind it all, a powerful hormone known as oxytocin that’s a natural part of our brain. It’s released when someone (even a stranger) treats us well and it motivates us to treat them well in return… the so-called Golden Rule a fundamental part of every culture on the planet. Now we see that it can reapplied, successfully, in business as well.
At least, Richard Branson seems to think so, in a well regarded 2010 interview in Entrepreneur magazine he set aside the idea that aggression is necessary to succeed in business. There are many examples to support the idea that despite the tough guy leader concept, nice guys (businesses) finish first. And we like that.
You do get more from people working from you when you treat them with honesty, kindness and respect. If a staff member thinks they are being treated well, they’ll try and work well with everyone else. Same goes for customers (and prospective ones).
We’d love to hear your take on this. Have you found following the Golden Rule good for business… or a waste of time in a modern world? Let us know!