A Review: The Power of Nice
A book review of the audiobook, The Power of Nice: How to Conquer the Business World with Kindness by Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval.
I don’t consider myself to be mean-spirited or somber but rather open and empathetic. I have been described as nice. And while I don’t particularly describe myself as such, I do think I am courteous and compassionate.
So, I didn’t get this book in the hopes of correcting a grave and unappealing character. I was drawn to it because I saw one of my professors had it in his reading list and it was recommended by an algorithm after purchasing another book. I figured I would go ahead and read it; I was curious.
Authors Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval present six principles about being nice and set the principles up by stating that the idea of social Darwinism has led to the propagation of the myth that ‘a cut-throat me versus you’ philosophy is the only way to win. I agree that it is a myth. Life is not a zero-sum game.
Growing up, my mom would always say:
“Don't look over to your neighbor’s bowl to see if they have more than you, look to see if they have enough.”
Kaplan Thaler and Koval offer a similar sentiment with another food analogy:
“We’re taught that the best way to succeed in life is to take as much as you can for yourself...beat out the competition and to grab your slice of the pie before they get it first because if you don’t, you’ll be left with only crumbs.”
And the reality of the situation is that we all just need to bake a bigger pie.
Many of the principles are truisms and while not novel to many of our experiences, they might not all be at the forefront of our consciousness when we curse at the driver that cut us off or don’t hold a door open for someone directly behind us. We are all human. So, while I don’t curse at drivers, I have certainly forgotten, in haste, to open a door or two. The authors encourage such small gestures of kindness as complimenting others and saying 'hello' to strangers on the train with a smile. However, they speak more heavily on being open to guiding and helping others succeed. To me, that was the key takeaway.
Being nice isn’t fake, naïve, or being a doormat. Being nice is respecting and celebrating others and their successes. Being nice is being courteous not because you expect to get anything in return, but you just want others to feel good too. Making sure that others are taken care of and feeling good, will make you feel good in return.