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Naughty or nice?

Alan Smith
© Lori Sparkia |

Every child knows that it is the time of year when all the good and bad deeds (and thoughts) you have had get tallied up by the Big Man, as he sits in his icy splendour on the North Pole trying to figure out what you get on Christmas morning.

It’s also a bit of a one-hit wonder, as a year in the life of a kid is as good as a lifetime so don’t get it wrong.

You had better hope that you are in the black or that present you have been hoping for may not arrive.

Now whilst the binary ways that we can count on our goodness coefficient may be pretty obvious as far as Santa is concerned. The metric in other walks of life may be somewhat more complex and confusing.

For instance, when I am trying to negotiate a great deal, is it in my interest to be naughty or nice?

What do I mean by naughty behaviour? How about lying, cheating, being aggressive, asking for the Sun with the moon thrown in, being rude, late, unpleasant and generally obnoxious. In general, treating the other side with no respect or empathy.

We have probably all had to deal with people like that at some point in our lives.

The trouble with nice is it has got a bad reputation. Who wants to be seen as nice?

A chum of mine was voted as the nicest guy in his office, and it drove him mad. He wanted to be seen as mad bad and dangerous to know. Not someone who liked to be in bed by 9, with a cup of hot chocolate.

It can be seen as colourless and anodyne. Worse still being successful may not be seen as synonymous with being nice.

But the reality is that we like niceness very much and depend upon it even more.

We want to be able to trust the people we deal with, and like them too.

Being nice allows us to get things done. I am not talking about being soft, toughness can still be delivered in an agreeable way. Being challenging to ourselves and indeed others does not have to be damaging, and indeed a lack of conflict can be seen as apathetic, it’s the way that we deal with these conflicts that counts. I would far rather collaborate and find ways of working with the other party in a collegiate amicable way, or not if it will not work, but still deal with them pleasantly.

A colleague of mine says this best. He says that he would never be mean and unpleasant in the actual negotiation, but he is always aggressive on himself on defining his objectives.

Being nice could even get you a better deal. Although I am not 100% sure that is true in every situation.

But it is a good way to live by.

Have a wonderful Christmas and a spectacularly nice 2019.

Alan Smith
More by Alan Smith:
That's Not Cricket
Four Rooms
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