THE POWER OF NICE
BY LINDA KAPLAN THALER AND ROBIN KOVAL
Random House, £7.99
WHILE it is laughable to read a Donald Trump quote on the front cover of a book called The Power of Nice, one should not write it off straightaway.
This charming book is just badly marketed – ironic considering that was written by the chief executive and president of an advertising agency. The book consists of 119 pages of delightful anecdotes and psychological research, hoping to demonstrate that being nice is a viable strategy for career success.
While to avoid disappointment you should view the book as Chicken Soup for the Business Soul, it does offer some interesting research findings on corporate behaviour. The authors cite evidence such as correlations between employee morale and company bottom lines to support their view that the nice guy doesn’t always finish last. For every 2 per cent increase in “service climate” – that is general cheerfulness and helpfulness as measured in your staff (god knows how they do that) – the book claims that companies experience a 1 per cent increase in revenue. Another study found that physicians who had never been sued spoke to their patients for an average of three minutes longer than physicians who had been sued twice or more. The conclusion: it pays to be nice.
The authors reveal a handful of “nice” financial celebs. Warren Buffett apparently never fires anyone, but tries to move struggling employees into more suitable roles.
The book would benefit from being re-branded as something closer to the Clinton Effect, tapping into the well-known notion that you can charm your way to success. They touch on this, retelling the anecdote about Bill Clinton sailing to the UK for his Rhodes scholarship, shaking everyone on board’s hand only to explain that he wanted to be president one day and would need a lot of friends.
Sadly, much of the book points out the obvious: people respond well to kindness and often later repay the favour. Whereas other parts touch on topics that are better explained elsewhere. For those interested in the topic, but keen to read more in-depth analysis, Working with Emotional Intelligence by Professor Daniel Goleman is a more worthwhile read.
While most who would be interested in this book will probably find it a pleasant affirmation of their existing views, the poor marketing probably means that the office tyrants that need it will have no interest. Perhaps this is one to buy and leave on the desk. Maybe the Donald Trump quote on the front will tempt such grisly characters into its pages.