Obey Your Kitchen Pig
(Author’s note: Part 2 of the Scott Wammack column is still in the works. Scott and I are working on it, but with vacation and work schedules, we’re still a few weeks out. Thanks for your patience.)
Two things happened today at work that reminded me of my kitchen pig. A little background...
My boys are nine and 11 years old. I’m told frequently how polite they are, which pleases me no end. However, were it not for a stern hand around our house, my two angels would be rolling disasters. They’re normal kids, predisposed to bad behavior, bickering and just plain meanness at times. It takes constant vigilance on Cindy’s and my part to keep them reined in.
One of our methods is the kitchen pig. It was a housewarming gift, intended, I think, to display a dinner menu when guests are expected. I’ve found a much better use for it. Every week or two I write a short sentence on the pig’s chalkboard reminding my kids of some virtue. This week’s is: “Bad attitudes are destructive always. Choose happy.”
A powerful fringe benefit is that it also reminds Cindy and me of the posted lesson several times each day. We’re human too, of course, predisposed to the same behavior as our children, only on an adult level (i.e., we tend to be sneakier about it).
I’ve found in business that it truly pays to be virtuous. Almost always, the nice guy comes out on top — particularly in the long haul. Here are the two examples I alluded to earlier.
One of the land development projects I’m involved with is in the process of a purchase and sale. An endangered species problem has cropped up that no one expected. This is a relatively small project, and the “problem” really isn’t a problem at all, unless someone with an agenda gets hold of it and blows it out of proportion. The local jurisdiction at first said it wouldn’t cause trouble, but this week it changed its tune and began to indicate that the problem might stop the sale.
Our attorney met with the subject planner and politely said that if they wanted to dig in on this issue, the sale would fall through, our team would be out and the jurisdiction would then be back dealing with “Ernie D. Tuff,” the original owner. Now the planner had a choice: create an issue, perhaps making himself look good in the eyes of his fellow bureaucrats; or interpret the rules differently and dispose of the “problem.”
The thing that swayed him in the end was the prospect of losing us (the “Nice Guy Developers”) and having to complete the project with Ernie. Had we been meanies, he likely would have dug in and we’d have lost the sale.
Example two involves two consultants competing for a long-term, lucrative government contract. Both have met with the local jurisdiction, which by law can show no preference. One team is headed by a guy so snide and condescending, no one can stand to be in the same room, let alone work with him. The other team is, again, the “Nice Guy Consultants.”
While it’s true that public jurisdictions cannot outwardly show preference, they can make favorable judgments, open certain doors and go above and beyond for the group they prefer working with. In this particular case we are amazed at the enthusiastic support that our team has garnered from everyone in the jurisdiction, from the clerk at the front desk all the way up to the board of commissioners. All other things being equal, the well-liked team will be the ones basking in the spoils of victory.
How does the old saying go: “Nice guys finish last?” Maybe when it comes to scamming potential bedfellows. But in business, to paraphrase the kitchen pig: “Nice guys are the ones people of influence prefer working with.”
Tim Garrison of ConstructionCalc.com, is a professional engineer, author and software producer for the building industry. Send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Tim reads every one.
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