"Go for the jugular" and "nice guys finish last" are common sayings among highly competitive individuals. In fact, this type of thinking permeates many business cultures, and has for decades. The highly competitive nature of our economy, the consumption-oriented society that requires ever-higher levels of disposable income have created negative work environments. We have lost what people from other generations would call "civility."
We all should. This type of hypercompetitive business culture doesn’t lead to improved results. In the long run, I believe it leads to failure—good employees simply don’t want to work in that kind of environment. Most will leave even if you offer them more money. And without good people, how can you run a successful business?
In particular, there are three virtues that we need to practice more often in the workplace. By doing so, we are helping to foster the type of environment that allows people to learn, grow and improve. Once these virtues permeate your workforce, they will spread to your customers and suppliers. It will lead to an improved reputation for your company, and ultimately more business.
Time pressures due to ever-expanding work and ever-shortening deadlines lead many people to lose their patience entirely. Managers don’t want to train new subordinates. Coworkers don’t want to show their colleagues better ways to do their jobs. Everyone is always in a rush. A lack of patience is an expression of selfishness. By being patient you are sharing your most valuable possession—your time. If you show more patience, everyone you come into contact with will notice immediately. People will speak highly of you; they will try to emulate you as well. It will pay off through better relationships in the workplace, less stress and greater productivity. Somebody has to start. Why not you?
By being empathetic, we put ourselves in the other person's shoes. We try to see a situation from their perspective. Overtime, we will begin to develop an expertise at expressing empathy. Then we can apply it to our customers. This will help us understand what they need during the sales process. It can also help during negotiations as we hone in on what is really important to the other party, and use that information to achieve a mutually beneficial outcome.
This is a big one. By being more humble we multiply our opportunities to learn from others. Everyone has something to teach as well as something to learn. I, for example, learned one of the greatest lessons in customer service from a destitute shoe shiner on the streets of Buenos Aires.
Practicing greater patience, empathy and humility will make you both a better manager and a better person. Start today.