We’ve all tried our best to be nice to people and in the end, they took advantage of it. Looking back at my story, sometimes I tend to think, “How stupid was I?”. This is why I always try to be strict when it comes to business. I try to define the thin line between being nice and being stupid.
Being nice can be interpreted in many different ways. In my opinion, a nice person has to be polite, humble, respectful, generous and forgiving. All this may sound sweet, but the problem occurs when the business world challenges these attributes. But what about forgiveness? How many chances do you have to give your coworkers? How many times do you have to tell an employee how to do his job? How many times do you have to explain something to an apprentice? Should you give someone a second chance for a job interview if he missed the first one? I could go on with questions like these, but I think most of us should understand what I’m trying to say by now. So, what’s the conclusion?
Being nice to everybody, saying hello to everyone in the room, signing every autograph; it was instilled in me at a very young age that this was what I was supposed to do. But I don’t think it helps at all. I see more people who are rude or arrogant being rewarded – but, this way, I can put my head on the pillow at night. – Brooke Shields
To be honest, there’s no perfect answer. The number of chances you give people depends on many things. Your mood, your current situation, the first impression a person makes etc. I don’t think that there’s a perfect list of characteristics, which describes how one has to be, so that they can be referred to as a nice person. But there’s one thing that I can say for sure. If you let the same person take advantage of you twice, you’ve definitely passed the line. If people lose respect for you or don’t take you serious even though you have authority, you’ve passed the line again.
While being nice is hard to describe, stupidity is very easy. Stupidity is not only based on the outcome of a situation, but also the starting position! I guess now you’re asking yourself: “If it’s that easy, why does it happen?”. The answer is simple. Stupidity happens because we notice when it’s too late. The question that we always ask ourselves is”How stupid was I?” and not “How stupid am I?”. Do you understand the difference? By the time you notice how people are taking advantage of you, they’ve already got what they wanted.
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. – Randall Terry
Risks are another factor of stupidity. Would you invest your last dollar in a bet that’s clearly against you? Let’s say in a lottery. If your chance to win was 1:2’118’760, would you still try your luck? Just like I mentioned before, it’s based on the outcome of the situation and starting position. If you win, people will call you gutsy and lucky. And if you lose, you’re an idiot. Risks and bluffs are part of the business world. You’re not stupid or crazy because you are willing to try it, you are stupid if you can’t estimate if it’s worth the risk.
The best way to avoid feeling stupid or naive, is by being strict. Set principles and live by them. This way, people won’t try to take advantage of you because you don’t really seem to care about them. However, this ideology has its bad sides. You might make harsh decisions that will cost your company a lot of money or revenue.