It is my opinion that “playing nice” will achieve better results than playing hardball, or even playing mean. That may be at odds with the old saying that Nice Guys Finish Last… but playing nice in my world does not mean “being a doormat”.
What is playing nice?
1. Be slow to anger. I wrote about this previously and basically my general rule is to give people the benefit of the doubt … it doesn’t mean I will never get angry, but it means that I will not just react to one or two situations; it means I will try to keep things in context; and it means I will not treat them any differently than I would expect to be treated if the roles were reversed.
2. Take a Deep Breath. In a very similar vein … some situations can really get under my skin, and when that happens I need to find a way to take my time before I respond. The blog entry I wrote about taking a deep breath is just that … don’t react immediately, understand the situation, let the emotion come out of the situation before you respond. That way you have a better chance of reacting in a productive rather than destructive way.
3. Be proactive. Sometimes a tense situation is just a symptom of an underlying problem. Yes, the situation needs to be dealt with but that (emotional situation) can be dealt with as a byproduct of dealing with the bigger issue.
4. People in glass houses. When you fly off the handle with someone, then you really had better be bullet proof … and I don’t know many people who are. Nobody is perfect, so to “have a go” at someone else is not really smart. It is likely to degenerate into a situation with a microscope on everyone’s weak links rather than a productive discussion to improve a situation.
5. Look for the good. When we have conflicts with people, it is a good idea to work on that relationship away from the issues. If you can proactively create a good working relationship then you are going to work together to right any issues, rather than fight! Sometimes it takes an issue to get people together, but afterwards there is a real opportunity for them to build a strong relationship to improve things on a go forward basis.
Playing nice means … looking for the positives, helping people, working on solutions, finding the right answers together and creating win-win relationships. The world would be a better place if we all operated this way.
I am also not naïve enough to think this is always possible so sometimes you have to get down and dirty! That should be the exception!