Don’t be nice, be fair

My insurance broker once taught me this lesson. He advised me to write this out and paste it on the whiteboard in my office, where I could see it always.

If you’re a leader, manager, parent, administrator or someone with responsibilities, this is important advice that can help you do the right thing.

These are some problems or accusations we may be facing:

  • “Why did you give the customer such a large discount?”
  • “You promised the customer delivery on the order much earlier than our normal terms and conditions”
  • “You took sides on that issue because of your relationship with that person”
  • “The contract stated the following… why did you give more?”
  • “You seem to have your favourites and the rest are treated differently”

We make concessions because we wish to be……… “nice”.

Some of the reasons for wanting to be ‘nice’ and not ‘fair’, may include:

  1. Our Personality: We may be naturally kind, warm, affable, giving, trusting, considerate. (This is the major reason: it’s just our nature/ who I am)
  2. Human Needs and Wants: We all want to be accepted. We crave it. We do not wish for its opposite: rejected, isolated, dismissed and ignored. We explain, justify and insist on being listened and understood, because we crave acceptance and validation from another. (Acceptance and the need to belong is on the third rung of Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs and wants)
  3. Alternative or Ulterior motives: Bribes, corruption, underhanded dealings, favours and more occur when personal gain can be expected. (This could be due to personal allegiance to someone, returning past favours and goodwill, obligations, friendships or sentimentalism)

The reasons and motives can blindside and subordinate to “nice” behaviour.

How then do we deal or engage “fair”, always?

  1. Values and Principles: One of the keys to success for any group is for participants to live the standards and code of conduct agreed upon. Subordinating to group values, in the interests of others and whole, is a sign of maturity and character. Impulse and immediate gratification is the cost for proper, long term and possibly ethical behaviour/ exchange
  2. Reminders: Participants (or staff in a working environment) must be reminded of, and understand – what the company stands for and how they should treat one another. This could be training, coaching, facilitation, workshops, triggers, reminders of what core values are. The consequence for deviation should be a key discussion; and participants should be ‘willing’ to live them. (It must be noted that I make no claim that values can be trained into a person; but acceptable behaviour is more likely with such open forums/ discussions)
  3. Leaders: Good leaders teach others. Better leaders form and build relationships with teams and individuals. Great leaders set an example. “We must teach and if necessary use words”

In the moment of choice, how we choose and what we choose, start to form the basis of developing good habits. “Don’t be nice, be fair” – ranks high on being a principle-centred leader.

Anil Salick

Anil Salick

Strategist, Facilitator, Coach, Writer. Shares about inspiration, leadership, critical thinking, fun, sports and current events.