Canadian Vending

Features Business Operations
The ‘Being Nice’ Strategy

September 30, 2009
By Julia M. Rahn PhD


A seventh grade teacher once told his class that he didn’t understand what “being nice” meant.

A seventh grade teacher once told his class that he didn’t understand what “being nice” meant.

“What is being nice?” he asked. He said that nice was such a
nondescript word that really didn’t give any direction of how to be or
describe a set of behaviours. No one in the class had any comment as
they were just 12 years old and were always being told to be nice.

As many business people continue to run their businesses, the question
of how nice they should be as a salesperson, program co-ordinator,
boss, renter (and the list could go on for each of the hats worn each
day) is often on their minds.


The dictionary says nice is defined as pleasing, agreeable and
delightful. These three words will get you labelled as “nice,” but will
not necessarily advance your business career. To be pleasing, agreeable
and delightful means that you are acting and making decisions based on
always having others leave meetings happy and getting exactly what they
want, many times at your expense.

It may seem like your customers are pleased with the deal but if you do
not feel good about your agreement or are unable to follow through on
your word, your customers won’t feel good for long. And don’t forget
about your real needs to make a profit, fulfill sales quotas, or pay
your utility bills. If you give away your services or products to make
others happy, your business won’t survive very long.

So if being nice isn’t an effective strategy, what can you do? You can
work to have your clients and customers truly satisfied with your
services or products. Your job is to meet the real needs of your
clients as well as meet your own business needs. In this way, you give
good service to both your clients and your business. To do this you
must remember and act on three things:

1. Know your ideal customers
By knowing what type of customers your business needs and serves the
best, you can more effectively find this population to promote your
products and services.

The chance of finding and creating a good match bet-ween provider and
client is greatly increased when you are just looking and meeting the
people who fit your ideal customer base. Metaphorically speaking, if
you are fishing for salmon, don’t go to a small pond where only Koi

2. Promise only what you can do
Really knowing what you can and cannot offer will help everybody in the
end. Clients need and want to know the exact parameters of what they
are contracting for and expect that a job will be completed as stated.

Knowing what to expect and getting your expectations met is far better
than leaving a meeting feeling like a super deal was had. People like
to be taken care of and will pay for this service. If you are not able
to meet the needs of a potential client, state this ahead of time and
give referrals of providers that may be able to work at a lower fee or
provide a special service that you do not offer.

3. Follow through
At the end of the day, your word is what truly matters. Of course
contracts are important, but contracts are really the written extension
of your spoken word.

So any stated promise, no matter how small, must be followed through
on. If you said you would make a referral, make the referral. If you
said you would return a phone call or get back to a client by email,
make the call or email promptly. If you said you would get information,
a proposal, or contract out to a customer, don’t delay, as this needs
to be on the top of your list.

And when you truly take the time to think and try these ideas out, you
will find it is easier to follow through on promises made to ideal
clients. You will feel more confident that your clients will be
satisfied with your work, make your necessary profit, and wrap up the
job with everyone involved feeling positive.

In the end, “being nice” seems to have little to do with business
success. Save being pleasant, agreeable, and delightful for the
cafeteria line, corporate social functions, and vacation, but be kind
and take a service approach when working with your clients and
customers. In other words, work with conscious intention to meet the
needs of your clients and yourself but still play nice.

Dr. Julia M. Rahn is a clinical
psychologist and founder of Flourish Studios – a multi-faceted learning
centre. In addition to running Flourish Studios and working
individually as a therapist with her clients, she is a speaker and
consultant. To find out more about Dr. Julia and Flourish Studios,
visit or call 773-281-8130.

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