Being nice more than just attribute

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Attention all aggressive go-getters and so-called career cutthroats — in your workforce endeavors, you may be overlooking a crucial tool of the trade: kindness. 

Yes, it is a dog-eat-dog world out there. In our individualistic culture and career world, ambition, achievement and a win-at-all-costs attitude are coveted characteristics. As we set out into the job jungle, it’s a common assumption that being competitive and aggressive will go a long way. However, some may forget the words “ambitious” and “ruthless” are not synonyms. 

In an extreme sense, when I think about the phrase “dog-eat-dog world,” I visualize a pack of suited businessmen and women with wolf heads, baring their fangs at their rivals and poised to bite the heads off challengers. A bit ridiculous, I know, but paths to careers in business, entertainment, or basically any field with a ladder to climb can be quite fierce — that is, if you want that top rung. But who doesn’t? So, naturally, it’s time to start sharpening your incisors, right? 


According to an Oct. 4 Today.com article by Allison Linn titled “Help wanted: Successful candidate must be nice,” a few companies have found it necessary to explicitly state in their help-wanted ads, “NO JERKS!” 

According to the article, while some companies seem to favor the competitive and cutthroat mentality in today’s tight job market, others are “bucking that trend by specifically recruiting workers who aren’t, well, jerks.”

It’s a little sad employers find it essential to state “kindness” in their job requirements. After all, we’re humans — not wolves.

Isn’t it common sense to be an amiable and collaborative worker? Sure, you don’t want to be the kind of person to let others take advantage and walk all over you when it comes to climbing that ladder, but it is possible to be competitive, synergetic and congenial.

Who wants to be the A-hole of the workplace anyway? Pretty soon your reputation will catch up to you, and you’ll be left to fend for yourself with few allies, a broken network and no one to put in a good word for you. 

I’ve had the pleasure of working with a very successful man who’s become a business owner and entrepreneur. He’s a charmer — the fox — if anything. He said he built his success by knowing the right people in all the right places: his networks.

Seeing how others interact with him and how he interacts with others is inspiring. Not only do people who respect him as a result of his good nature surround him, but there are also people who’ll follow him.

That’s true success — honest success — not success built from a vicious offense. 

If that charmer was the fox, my next example would be the Tasmanian devil.

Let’s just say working with this person is like walking on eggshells. She’s a wonderful worker; she gets things done, that’s for sure. But working on a team with her is like wading through a murky pond where you know a snapping turtle lurks. You never know when you’re going to lose a few toes or even your head.

I don’t know much about how she perceives her success, but as far as I know, she isn’t exactly the happiest person in the world. And she certainly isn’t a business owner. At times I feel more pity for her than disdain, though. I imagine how stressful it must be for her to always have to watch her back because of all the nasty things she’s done to others, especially when 100 percent of the time her behavior is completely unnecessary.

That being said, I’d much rather buzz around with a team of worker bees, focus on my own skills, and prove myself to be a collaborative colleague — rather that than a pitiless wasp hell-bent on success based on a lonely and sour life in which I’m nothing without my stinger.