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Thursday, July 16, 2015

It Pays to Be Nice

By Olga Khazan
The Atlantic
Originally published June 23, 2015

Here is an excerpt:

The conclusions of Rand’s studies support corporate do-gooders. Judging by his research, you should be nice even if you don’t trust the other person. In fact, you should keep on being nice even if the other person screws you over.

In one experiment, he found that people playing an unpredictable prisoner’s-dilemma type game benefitted from being lenient—forgiving their partner for acting against them. The same holds true in the business environment, which can be similarly “noisy,” as economists say. Sometimes, when someone is trying to undermine you, they’re actually trying to undermine you. But other times, it’s just an accident. If someone doesn’t credit you for a big idea in a meeting, you can’t know if he or she just forgot, or if it was an intentional slight. According to Rand’s research, you shouldn’t, say, turn around and tattle to the boss about that person’s chronic tardiness—at least not until he or she sabotages you at least a couple more times.

“If someone did something that hurt me, and I get pissed, and I screw them over, that destroys that relationship over a mistake,” Rand said. And losing allies, especially in a cooperative environment, can be costly. In his studies, “the strategy that earns the most money is giving someone a pass and letting the person take advantage of you two or three times.”

The entire article is here.

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