Be Nice

A while ago I was contacted by a couple of people I know who wanted to meet to discuss my interest in becoming the new CEO of a company. They were investors and board members of the company.   I had already heard the company had severe p programs.

But to my great surprise no more than 15 minutes had gone by when they said they wanted me to be the new CEO and to accompany them to the company offices. They intended to remove the old CEO and install me that afternoon.

My response was quick, “That’s not going to happen.”

Why? It could be the company wasn’t the right fit (not true). It could be the compensation wasn’t right (hadn’t gotten than far). If could be I had no interest (also untrue – it was a great opportunity).

Why was my answer immediate?

It wasn’t nice. One doesn’t treat people that way.

To be clear, I didn’t have a problem with them wanting to remove the CEO. I didn’t have any problem with the job. I didn’t really worry too much about the company or its problems.

What I had a big problem with is that the method they had cooked up to do so wasn’t nice. Or respectful. Or courteous. Or any other number of ways people should always treat each other.

It reminded me of a scene from the movie “Roadhouse,” where Patrick Swayze plays Dalton, a professional “cooler” hired to keep the environment of a bar “cool.” To keep it a “nice place where people can drink and dance and have fun.”

After Dalton takes over, he has a meeting with the rest of the coolers and lays down three simple rules. The third is to “be nice.”

“If someone gets into your face and calls you a @&#%$^#%@^, be nice.”

“Ask him to walk, but be nice.”

“If he won’t walk, then walk him. But be nice.”

“If you can’t walk him, one of the others will help you. And you’ll both be nice.”

“I want you to remember it’s just a job. It’s nothing personal.”

This is sage advice. In your workplace you might need to challenge someone. You might need to correct someone. You might need to fire someone. You might even need to kick their butt.

But be nice. To be otherwise says more about you than anything else.

“Being nice doesn’t necessarily mean you’re weak. You can be nice and be strong at the same time. That’s a character trait that we need more in Washington.”

– Shelley Moore Capito

And everywhere else.”

– Keith Okano


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