A self serving, contradiction of a title? Possibly. However, is it true – absolutely. In the competitive world of business, as in life, to the victor goes the spoils. And to the person who is liked, goes the benefit of the doubt. Sometimes, the benefit of the doubt is all it takes to tip the scales.
Certainly we can all attest to countless examples where the “popular kids”, the “teachers pet”, the “bosses favorite”, or the one who was simply “liked more” received some sort of apparent preferential treatment. Is it fair? Not our decision to make. Is it a reality at every phase of life and in every situation? Absolutely. Fair or not, it is foolish to assume that likeability does not factor into any decision in which human relationships are involved.
Looking over the last week in popular culture, one only needs to consider the passing of Patrick Swayze and the NBA Hall of Fame acceptance speech of Michael Jordan. The overwhelming popular and media sentiment upon the news of Patrick Swayze’s passing was extremely positive. It was not because of his being regarded as the greatest actor of all time. Rather it was for his work, his positive impact on others, his humility and by most accounts his being “a good guy”; a nice guy. There is no arguing that Michael Jordan is one of, if not the greatest basketball players and athletes of all time. A true icon who crossed cultural, sport, business, and global boundaries. An amazingly accomplished individual in a host of arenas. However, over the years, and as his recent acceptance speech illustrated, he is often seen as self-centered, cold, and petty. The perception is now more of a flawed person – one who is not known to be extremely nice. Ultra competitive – absolutely. Nice – not really. Fair or not, there is no arguing that Michael Jordan has lost some of the media and public’s “benefit of the doubt” over the years.
In the final analysis, there are very few circumstances in today’s world (business, personal, or otherwise) where only data and facts are all that matters. Relationships and human emotion do play a role. How much of a factor is wide open to debate, but there is no denying it does play a role. Therefore, why would anyone ever want to put up barriers? There is no advantage or benefit to not being polite, respectful, empathetic, genuine and positive. Or more simply stated, being nice will only help you. Who knows, you might even make a friend or two along the way.