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It pays to be nice

It pays to be nice

The ability to get along with people is seriously under-rated in business. But because it's a bit fluffy and often can't be learnt or measured, 'get-along-ability' tends to be ignored in business self-help books and MBA curricula. But it is, assuming that you can do your job relatively well, among the most important attributes for a successful career.

Being pleasant, positive, keen and just plain nice are personality traits that help at all points of your working life. Being able to do whatever it is you're paid for may be the 'qualifying criteria'; but the power of personality can often be the 'order-winning criteria' – the one that gets you noticed by your boss, forgives mistakes, secures influential friends and gains those new business triumphs.

Being able to make friends cannot be overstated when building a career – or building a business. This is not the same thing as networking, which is more Machiavellian. Contacts aren't friends. Making friends takes time, involves honesty and more 'give' than 'take'. If you only try to make friends with those who can help your career this will be self-defeating, as people's social antennae soon pick this up. Your author may have been subject to a doggedly Catholic upbringing, but there is something to be said for taking a more holistic approach, one where you help others more than you help yourself. There can be real enjoyment in selflessly making others look good, helping out, guiding, mentoring and advising – and the rewards for it may not just be delivered in heaven.

People like working with people they like. That remains as true in today's technological world as it ever was. And public relations and communications generally are particularly sensitive to relationships. When pitching for work, it is often the 'chemistry test' that determines who the client ultimately chooses to work with, with outright ability often traded for a good cultural fit. This may seem a bad compromise, but isn't', as clients and agencies who like each other feed off this bonhomie and respect and can do great things – often achieving a quality output that is far more than the sum of their parts.

SE10 has been very lucky with its friends over the years. They have taken a chance on us, forgiven our mistakes, challenged us to reach up, offered their help, kept us on when times are tough and spread nice words about us to potential clients in conversations that we would never usually have been part of. We have tried our best to repay that loyalty by hiring talented people who are pleasant, positive, keen and just plain nice – and delivering what's needed dayin, day out.
Where so many companies encourage a dog-eat-dog mentality there is a lot to be said for a simple but powerful philosophy: it pays to be nice.

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