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Years ago, before signs with inspirational phrases, proclamations and personal mantras were in vogue, I bought a sign that read, “Be Nice or Go Away.”

I looked at other signs in the shop and couldn’t decide what the right message was for our home. It’s not the most positive phrase but it’s pretty direct and I liked that about it, so I bought it. It has been hanging above a doorway in my home ever since.

It’s a simple concept, being nice to someone but it doesn’t seem to be that simple for people to do all of the time.

After the Super Bowl XLVII, people were relentless in their crucifixion of the Seattle Sea Hawks coach, Pete Carroll after the final call that cost them the game. I just don’t understand it. The guy got them to the Super Bowl! He is a smart man and had the play gone well, they wouldn’t have thought twice about the call. Calm down America! Get this upset about racial injustice, unemployment, poverty or something that matters.

It’s not just happening in the media though, we see meanness and insensitivity toward servers at restaurants, sales clerks and even our kids’ teachers sometimes. We see it on social media, where the written word can really pack a punch and stone throwers can use hashtags and hide behind a ghost name.

#hatersgonnahate people but pay attention to the word, “we” because we all can be mean.

In fact, sometimes we are actually the worst to those who are closest to us. They are the people, who we need on our side when the going gets tough. I know that despite my sign, many a mean word has been used and even shouted in my own home. Note to self: Must Do Better!

How about our work family? We are supposed to be a team and yet I hear countless times about managers storming into offices with fingers pointed, “Who authorized payment on this?” A simple rephrasing might keep Jim from constantly eyeing the Exit door. “Hey Jim, Could you help me figure out what happened with this payment?”

Imagine Julie’s stress hormones coursing through her veins as she hears, her supervisor yell, “Sally told me that your people didn’t follow closing procedures again!” Maybe Julie wouldn’t have as many sick days if it went more like this, “Hey Julie, do you have some time to look at our closing procedures with me?

By the way, it’s not just the people running the show who are guilty.  Employees can be thrown under the bus by their own coworker or backstabbed by a colleague in the next office. Meetings are held without all of the stakeholders present. People are cut out of a department without asking the manager how the work will get done.

According to, “estimates show one out of every three people are dissatisfied with their current employment situation and could leave for better positions as the economic situation continues to improve. The Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) and the Wall Street Journal website completed the Job Recovery Survey. The key findings revealed 64 percent of employees said they were extremely likely to begin or increase the intensity of their job search. An additional 19 percent said they were somewhat likely to increase their search.”

So, how do we fix these issues that rob our true human resources and hurt our bottom line?

There are many team-building activities that can be done to fix these problems. There are training programs on how to manage better. Personality profiles help explain our work style differences. An improved evaluation process that is actually implemented will do wonders with managers’ and employees’ expectations. Employee engagement initiatives help employees feel valued and work with the company’s best interests in mind. If you are constantly refereeing squabbles or too busy with exit interviews…seek help.

The tools are available and will be worth the investment in time and resources. A good HR director or consultant can use the right tools to help create a positive workplace where people will …

Be Nice and Not Go Away

Peggy Hogan
Peggy Hogan
Peggy is Purple Ink’s Vice President of Talent Services. She is passionate about helping organizations be more effective at sourcing and retaining top talent and loves the powerful effect connecting people to the right opportunity can have on their lives.

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