You Can’t Be Too Nice

Okay, I don’t usually do this, but I feel a rant coming on.  This just came up on my LinkedIn feed:

The dangers of being nice at work

Having a supportive and overly cordial work culture can undermine new and innovative ideas, argues Jonah Sachs in an article for Quartz. Office environments that stress positivity and downplay conflict can suppress the tension needed to surface ideas and avoid bad decisions. According to Sachs, “Good as it feels, this emphasis on niceness leads to poor decision-making and low levels of creativity by limiting the number of inputs a group will consider and diverting focus away from risk-taking and results.”
Really? Has the person writing this article ever worked with others?  If so, they would know, as I do, that teamwork, cooperation and caring result in greater productivity than tension and conflict.  A kind and supportive workplace is more likely to lead to creative thinking, as workers will be willing to share their ideas and opinions, both good and bad. I suppose “nice” can be  bad if it is a false “niceness” where nothing negative is expressed due to fear and distrust.  However, the group that is truly nice will foster risk taking and innovation as all are comfortable knowing their coworkers honestly want them to succeed.  It is possible to “speak the truth in love,” with “gentleness and respect,”  knowing that a good decision is the best outcome for everyone. We don’t need “tension” to do this.
This is just common sense and people have known it since Bible times, as Psalm 127 so aptly states:
How good and pleasant it is
when brothers live together in unity!
It is like precious oil poured on the head,
running down on Aaron’s beard,
down the collar of his robes.
It is as if the dew of Hermon
were falling on Mount Zion.
For there the Lord bestows his blessing,
even life forevermore.
Don’t listen to bad advice. A kind and caring workplace can be a blessing.  You can’t be too nice!
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