"Treat others the way you want to be treated."
It's a simple rule taught to most of us growing up. Be kind, and good things will find their way back to you. Somewhere along the line, however, things changed. Especially in the business world, where competition reigns. The beloved old adage has been replaced by a new golden rule: you've got to be a shark to make it in business. Kindness is out, toughness is in, and it's only the biggest dogs with the loudest barks have what it takes to make it big.
I'm not buying it.
As someone who transformed a one-woman operation into an international, full-service public relations agency, I've worked really hard to hone my craft through the years. However, also as critical to my success are the years I spent building and nurturing relationships. So I'm here to tell you that you do not have to be a shark to make it in life. In fact, it has been my indefatigable, intentional commitment to being kind — to not be a shark.
Here's the thing: being nice and being assertive are not mutually exclusive.
You can be gracious and get things done. You can disagree with people without belittling them, and you can lead people without making them feel inferior. I don't think anyone in the industry would ever believe that I'm a pushover, but they would always say, "She handles things in a respectful way." In business, leveraging good relationships matter, and I learned that lesson early on in my career.
I don't think anyone in the industry would ever believe that I'm a pushover.
Here are some takeaways on building kindness and integrity into your practice:
Exit relationships as gracefully as you entered them
You can't only be nice when it's convenient. Even if a business relationship doesn't pan out long-term, it's essential to remain kind. The world is smaller than you think, and when you move on from a relationship, it's never really the end. The impact that you make and the impression that you leave on clients, customers or partners live on, so you should never sever ties in a careless way. You have to adopt kindness into your being as a core value, intentionally practicing it.
Even if someone is not nice to me, I still treat them with grace and respect because, at the end of the day, it's more about how I want people to perceive me, and in turn, my brand, my team and my business.
Hire for attitude in addition to skill
Kindness is as crucial for employee relations as it is for clients, and I make it a point to encourage kindness on my team. In fact, it's not just encouraged — it's mandatory. People can learn the skills necessary for their jobs, but personality traits like, a positive attitude and the desire to help others, that will help take you further in your career.
These skills are invaluable to growing businesses. Companies are looking to hire employees who demonstrate a general commitment to openness and collaboration, and it makes all the difference in cultivating the next generation of young professionals into leaders.
Make sure you are remembered not only for your talent, but for your energy.
Lead by example
Finally, no matter your role, from entrepreneur to associate, you have the power to bring kindness into your operation. You set the tone, establish the culture, and shape your reputation and legacy. As a leader, you should be firm without being nasty. When you show your team that you have compassion, you are willing to answer questions and address concerns, your team will reciprocate that energy by going the extra mile.
Make yourself a resource to others.
If you can make connections that will help people, do so.
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No, I'm not a shark, and I don't want to be. I've gotten this far in my career keeping an open mind and heart. Setting that example for others makes success that much sweeter.
What are your thoughts on the shark mentality? Tweet me @NatashaNKPR or leave a comment below.
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