Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Is Being Kind Bad for Business?

A couple of days ago, Sarah and I were chatting about this week's newsletter topic (arriving in inboxes tomorrow!)email etiquetteand we both shared instances of communication breakdown. It happens all too often, not only via email or in business-related situations, but also in conversations and everyday life.

I know people are busy. We are all busy, but that shouldn't be an excuse for not responding or for not being kind... right? There are plenty of busy people who have created systems to make sure their communications are timely and courteous.

But this isn't really about email. The bigger topic that's been on my mind lately is the relationship between business and kindness.


Do being kind and being successful have to be mutually exclusive? I don't think so. In fact, I think kindness is often the key to building relationshipsand in turn, building a business.

These thoughts first started when I read Megan's interview on Viva Bang Bang. In the post, she says, "Be nice. It gets you further than you think." That quote jumped out to me because I've found that some of my most successful business relationships have been built on a genuine sense of respect and kindness. (I mean, who has the time or energy to be a "mean girl"? Is it worth it?)

On the other hand, I'm often cautioned about being "too nice." This week's Design*Sponge Biz Ladies post addressed the debate "How Nice is Too Nice?" As a business owner, I know it's important to be firm and not give my services away, but those communications can still be kind.

Yes, it's business, not personal. But when you're a small business, that line gets blurry sometimes. You are who you are, and yet, you also represent your company and brand. Good customer (or client or collaborator) service goes a long way.

To me, being kind is about being respectful, keeping an open mind, thinking of others' perspectives, finding solutions, collaborating, and going above and beyond. And I don't think that's bad for business.

What do you all think? How important is being kind in the business realm?


  1. This is such a great topic for discussion, Melissa. Of course I have no great answers, but it definitely got me thinking. I know there have been small opportunities I've missed out on by being too nice and thus allowing others to sneak in - or not asking for something because I didn't want to impose on another's time, and being conscience of that can make a big difference. Sometimes, it's worth feeling a little uncomfortable to try to get what you want

    1. I agree, there is a fine balance of being kind and fostering a sense of mutual respect vs. being too nice and letting others take advantage. It's tricky to navigate.

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