I have two main criteria for hiring: Are you smart? Are you nice?

– Gail McGovern, President & CEO, American Red Cross.

Gail McGovern is whip smart. She was Executive Vice President at AT&T, President of Fidelity Personal Investments, and co-chair of the Board of Trustees of Johns Hopkins University. Trained as a mathematician, she knows all about the need for technical expertise and proficiency in one’s chosen field.

We’ve all heard some version of the old adage: “Half of any job is getting the work done. The other half is how it gets done.” It’s not as easy as it sounds.

Sometimes, being nice in the workplace is a challenge. There are tight deadlines, financial pressures, politics, agendas, difficult people, inadequate resources, unrealistic expectations and weak links on the team. Then there’s firing people, laying people off, shuttering lines of service and reorganizing departments. I’ve had to do all of that, and it doesn’t feel nice to those on the receiving end.

One boss told me I was too nice, accommodating and patient, and needed to be more demanding of my team. Another boss told me I needed to be softer, gentler and more incremental in my approach. Striking the right balance is often more an art than a science, and what constitutes success often varies based on an organization’s culture.

Nice in the workplace is more a behavior than a personality. Can you listen well? Disagree respectfully? Give and take? Support others? Be generous with praise? Move past mistakes? Say “thank you” and “I’m sorry”?

Mindfulness is one tool that can help us be nice under difficult and stressful conditions. With practice over time, Mindfulness can aid in reducing conflict, misunderstandings and hurt feelings.


Let’s discus how your business or organization can facilitate being nice through Mindfulness.


  • Minnie

    That’s really thinking at an imvsirsepe level