How to Play Nicely In Business

Here are some basic rules on how to Play Nicely In Business provided By Jane Malyon, author of Play Nicely! Best Behaviour in Business. We love them! Thanks Jane.

When we were little and other children came around, our Mums and Aunties said to us over and over: ‘say thank you’, ‘share’….‘be kind’….. ‘gently now’….‘don’t show off’…‘sshh, no shouting’..and ‘let your friend have a turn’….and we gradually began to understand the rules of play. The Snatchers were admonished and The Biters were watched over and marginalised until they knew how to join in on a fair and equal basis. It was all about ‘playing nicely’ and good manners.

Recently I tried to do business with someone who thought a Win (them) Lose (me) outcome was fine and told me it was a Dog Eat Dog world. What happened between the nursery school years and today, to change a sense of fair play or common decency?!

It’s real food for thought as to why we think we can abandon these maxims now we’re grown and wearing business clothes? You know, the short answer is – we can’t. There ARE still consequences to breaking the rules. It’s not ‘go to bed without supper’ or ‘wait ‘til your father comes home’ but, ultimately, unpleasantness will catch people out. Would you do business a second time with a short-changing rat?

I ran a survey asking about playing nicely in business, and consistently got the answers that people want integrity, honesty, decency, fairness, and do as you say! It turns out that good manners have never gone out of style. Trust and integrity are the currency of long term relationships. Niceness is an ongoing thing too, not a flash in the pan! It’s all about your underlying values.

Through going the extra mile, thanking colleagues and clients, listening beautifully instead of interrupting, being considerate to others….and taking the time to build rapport – all these traits build trust. By being kindly creative when dealing with problems, avoiding the YOU word in arguments (eg “well YOU obviously don’t care…”)…and keeping a rein on our ego, we become lovely to be around. Indeed, striving to be the person who doesn’t talk about others behind their backs…and avoids being the Office Know It All…we quietly earn a reputation of being trustworthy and kind. And those are the components of respect.

Let’s be honest though, whether we’re the CEO or office tea maker, there is a child in all of us, no matter what the birth certificate states. That child is also ever-ready to emerge in the form of bad behaviour (calling names, telling lies, being mean or greedy)…and equally capable of feeling wounded, sulky or victimised. We mustn’t be fooled by the grown-up business clothes covering grown bodies!

But remembering back to what our elders taught us when we were tiny, those childhood rules weren’t just for sorting out play-box squabbles. They were rules for life. We know ourselves when we haven’t played nicely too. There’s an Auntie inside all of us only too aware when we’ve ‘slipped’! Perhaps we’ve been short with someone, sarcastic, late for a meeting, made a joke at their expense…etc?! Ahh. So, do we need to go and say sorry or thank you to someone, right now? Well come on then, let’s get it over with!

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