The Power of Nice: How to Conquer the Business World With Kindness

by Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval

You may not be familiar with the authors’ names, but you are probably familiar with their work. They are the founding partners of the advertising agency responsible for the Aflac duck campaign.  One of them wrote the “I want to be a Toys R Us Kid” jingle earlier in her career.

Their message is that being nice (but not phony) in personal and professional encounters builds goodwill, which can lead to big and small rewards.  Many examples are included in the book.

One memorable story is a reprimand delivered in a motivating tone. Two employees had missed several meetings with a client, who became upset. “I began the meeting by telling them some positive truths first. I told them that they needed to understand that they were very important to the client. He looked forward to their meetings, so when they canceled on him it was a very big deal.  They responded with surprise–they never realized how much they mattered to the client… By the end of our conversation, they actually felt empowered. And they haven’t missed a meeting since.”

Some notable benefits of a “nice” work environment:

  • People who are in a good mood are more likely to help others.
  • Positive feelings in the workplace make employees behave more ethically.
  • Workplace jokes and humor stimulate creativity.
  • Cheerful employees are more productive and make customers happy.

The authors cite various researchers throughout the book.  They seem to be especially impressed with Prof. Daniel Goleman, author of the books Primal Leadership and Emotional Intelligence, as they have quoted him seven times.

Thaler, Linda, and Robin Koval. The Power of Nice: How to Conquer the Business World with Kindness. New York: Currency Doubleday, 2006. Buy from

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