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Monday, July 26, 2010

Playing Nice in the Sandbox

Although we were told to “play nice” as children, it appears that “niceness” at work has become a misnomer.

So often leaders look externally to bring someone in to fix their organization. But it really starts at the individual level. It can’t be any simpler: be nice! How often do we treat co-workers as adversaries, fighting for limited resources or fighting for professional stature? Or perhaps withholding information, rather than openly sharing. So the question on the table: Is “nice” at work a goal worth pursuing?

Communication is the source for creating a positive and productive work culture. How we communicate, what we say and do, and how others communicate with us, provides the essence for what shapes organizational culture. In these leaner times when everyone is pushed to capacity, sometimes the fundamentals of respectful, supportive and effective communication begin to slip. As a leader, it’s up to you to lead by example and explore if your culture is one where people could be nicer to each other.

In Wendy Ulrich’s new book, The Why of Work, she suggests that leaders revisit some communication fundamentals. It takes personal responsibility to put effort into building happy and healthy co-worker relationships. Remember, you’re leading a larger team of people who are all working to achieve a common goal. Foster camaraderie. Have fun. We seem to have lost “fun” and “nice” in the pursuit of cut-throat competitiveness to produce results. They are not mutually exclusive. Check out 13 Ways to Have Fun at Work.

To do this requires conversations. Not one, but many. And genuine, open, authentic conversations. Where kindness and respect is mutual. Be nice. Say thank you. Acknowledge the good work of others. Buy some donuts. Enjoy! After all, you probably spend more time with your co-workers than your family.

Fostering good working relationships is really no different from fostering good personal relationships. It doesn’t cost anything to be nice to people.

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