Do Nice People Finish Last or Best?  | Christine Porath | TEDxUniversityofNevada

Do Nice People Finish Last or Best? | Christine Porath | TEDxUniversityofNevada


Who do you want to be? It’s a simple question, and whether you know it or not, you are answering it every day
through your actions. This one question will define
your professional success more than any other. Because how you show up
and treat people means everything. Either you lift people up
by respecting them, making them feeling valued,
appreciated and heard, or you hold people down by making them feel small,
insulted, disregarded or excluded. And who you choose to be means everything. I studied the effects
of incivility on people. What is incivility? It’s disrespect or rudeness. It includes a lot of different behaviors, from mocking or belittling someone
to teasing people in ways that sting, to telling offensive jokes
to texting in meetings. And what’s uncivil to one person
maybe absolutely fine to another. Take texting while someone
is speaking to you. Someone of us may find it rude,
others may think it’s absolutely civil. So it’s really depends. It is all in the eyes of the beholder
and whether that person felt disrespected. We may not mean
to make someone feel that way, but when we do, it has consequences. Over 22 years ago, I vividly recall
walking into this stuffy hospital room. It was heart-breaking to see my dad,
this strong, athletic, energetic guy lying in a bed with electrodes
strapped to his bare chest. What put him there
was work-related stress. For over a decade,
he suffered an uncivil boss, And for me, I thought
he was just an outlier at that time. But just a couple of years later, I witnessed and experienced
a lot of incivility in my first job out of college. I spent a year going to work every day
and hearing things from co-workers like, “Are you an idiot?
That’s not how it’s done.” And, ”If I wanted
your opinion, I’d ask.” So I did the natural thing: I quit. And I went back to grad school
to study the effects of this. And there I met Christine Pearson, and she had a theory
that small uncivil actions can lead to much bigger problems,
like aggression and violence. We believed that incivility affected
performance in the bottom line. So we launched a study,
and what we found was eye-opening. We sent a survey to business school alumni
working in all different organizations, and we asked them to write
a few sentences about one experience where they were treated rudely,
disrespectfully or insensitively and to answer questions
about how they reacted. One person told us about a boss
that made insulting statements, like, ”That’s kindergartener’s work.” And another tore up someone’s work
in front of the entire team. And what we found is that incivility
made people less motivated. Sixty-six percent cut back work efforts, 80% lost time worrying
about what happened, and 12% left their job. And after we published these results,
two things happened: One, we got calls from organizations. Cisco read about these numbers,
took just a few of these and estimated conservatively incivility was costing them
12 million dollars a year. The second thing that happened was that we heard from others
in our academic field, who said, ”People are reporting this,
but how can you really show it? Does people’s performance really suffer?” I was curious about that, too. With Amir Erez, I compared those
that experienced incivility to those that didn’t
experience incivility. And what we found is
that those that experience incivility do actually function much worse. “OK,” you may say. “This makes sense. After all, it’s natural
that their performance suffers. But what about if you are not the one
who experiences it? What if you just see or hear it?” You’re a witness. We wondered if it affected witnesses, too. So we conducted studies
where five participants would witness an experimenter act rudely
to someone who arrived late to the study. The experimenter said,
”What is it with you? You arrived late, you are irresponsible. Look at you! How do you expect
to hold a job in real world?” In another study in a small group, we tested the effects of a peer
insulting a group member. Now, what we found was really interesting because witnesses’
performance decreased, too. And not just marginally,
quite significantly. Incivility is a bug, it’s contagious, and we become carriers of it
just by being around it. And this isn’t confined to the workplace. We can catch this virus anywhere; at home, online, in schools
and in our communities. It affects our emotions, our motivation,
our performance and how we treat others. It even affects our attention
and can take some of our brain power. And this happens not only
if we experience incivility or we witness it. It can happen even if we just see
or read rude words. Let me give you an example of what I mean. To test this, we gave people combinations
of words to use to make a sentence. But we were very sneaky. Half the participants got a list
with 15 words used to trigger rudeness: “impolitely,” “interrupt,”
“obnoxious,” “bother.” Half the participants
received a list of words with none of these rude triggers. And what we found was really surprising because the people who got the rude words were five times more likely
to miss information right in front of them
on the computer screen. And as we continued this research, what we found is that those
that read the rude words took longer to make decisions,
to record their decisions, and they made significantly more errors. This can be a big deal, especially when it comes
to life and death situations. Steve, a physician, told me
about a doctor that he worked with, who was never very respectful,
especially to junior staff and nurses. But Steve told me about
this one particular interaction where this doctor shouted
at a medical team. Right after the interaction, the team gave the wrong dosage
of medication to their patient. Steve said the information
was right there on the chart, but somehow everyone
on the team missed it. He said that they lacked the attention
or awareness to take it into account. Simple mistake, right? Well, that patient died. Researchers in Israel have actually shown that medical teams exposed
to rudeness perform worse, not only in all their diagnostics
but in all the procedures they did. This was mainly because the teams
exposed to rudeness didn’t share information as readily and they stopped seeking help
from their teammates. And I see this not only in medicine,
but in all industries. So if incivility has such a huge cost,
why do we still see so much of it? I was curious, so we surveyed people about this, too. The number one reason is stress;
people feel overwhelmed. The other reason
that people are not more civil is because they are skeptical
and even concerned about being civil or appearing nice. They believe they’ll appear
less leader-like. They wonder, ”Do nice guys finish last?” Or in other words, ”Do jerks get ahead?” It’s easy to think so, especially when we see
a few prominent examples that dominate the conversation. Well, it turns out,
in the long run, they don’t. There is really rich research on this by Morgan McCaul and Michael Lombardo
at the Center for Creative Leadership. And they found the number one reason
tied to executive failure was an insensitive,
abrasive or bullying style. There will always be some outliers
that succeed despite their incivility. Sooner or later, though, most incivil people
sabotage their success. For example, with uncivil executives,
it comes back to hurt them when they’re in a place of weakness,
or they need something. People won’t have their backs. But what about nice guys?
Does civility pay? Yes, it does. And being civil doesn’t just mean
that you are not a jerk. Not holding someone down
isn’t the same as lifting them up. Being truly civil means
doing the small things, like smiling and saying hello
in the hallway, listening fully when
someone’s speaking to you. Now, you can have strong opinions, disagree, have conflict
or give negative feedback civilly, with respect. Some people call it radical candor where you care personally,
but you challenge directly. So yes, civility pays. In a biotechnology firm,
colleagues and I found that those that were seen a civil were twice as likely
to be viewed as leaders and they performed significantly better. Why does civility pay? Because people see you as an important
and a powerful, unique combination of two key characteristics: warm and competent, friendly and smart. In other words, being civil
isn’t just about motivating others. It’s about you. If you’re civil, you’re more likely
to be seen as a leader. You perform better and you’re seen
as warm and competent. But there is an even bigger story
about how civility pays, and it ties to one of the most
important questions around leadership. What do people want most
from their leaders? We took data from over 20,000
employees around the world, and we found the answer was simple. Respect. Being treated with respect
was more important than recognition and appreciation, useful feedback,
even opportunities for learning. Those that felt respected
were healthier, more focused, more likely to stay with the organization
and far more engaged. So where do you start? How can you lift people up
and make people feel respected? Well, the nice thing is
it doesn’t require a huge shift. Small things can make a big difference. I found that thanking people,
sharing credit, listening attentively, humbly asking questions,
acknowledging others, and smiling has an impact. Patrick Quinlan, former CEO
of Ochsner Health [System], told me about the effects
of their ten/five way, where if you’re
within ten feet of someone, you make eye contact and smile. And if you’re within five feet, you say hello. He explained that civility spread,
patients’ satisfaction scores rose, as did patient referrals. Civility and respect can be used
to boost an organization’s performance. When my friend, Doug Conant, took over
as CEO of Campbell Soup Company in 2001, the company’s market share
had just dropped in half. Sales were declining,
lots of people had just been laid off. A Gallup manager said that it was
the least engaged organization that they had surveyed. And as Doug drove up
to work his first day, he noticed that the headquarters
was surrounded by barbed-wire fence. There were guard towers
in the parking lot. He said it looked
like a minimum security prison. It felt toxic. Within five years,
Doug had turned things around. And within nine years, they were setting all-time performance
records and racking up awards, including best place to work. How did he do it? On day one, Doug told employees that he was going to have
high standards for performance, but they were going
to do it with civility. He walked the talk,
and he expected his leaders to. For Doug, it all came down
to being tough-minded on standards and tender-hearted with people. And for him, he said it was
all about these touchpoints or these daily interactions
he had with employees, whether in the hallway,
in the cafeteria or in meetings, and if he handled each touchpoint well,
he’d make employees feel valued. Another way that Doug made
employees feel valued, and it showed them
he was paying attention, is that he handwrote over 30,000
thank-you notes to employees. And this set an example for other leaders. Leaders have about 400
of these touchpoints a day. Most don’t take long;
less than two minutes each. The key is to be agile and mindful
in each of these moments. Civility lifts people. We’ll get people to give more
and function at their best if we’re civil. Incivility chips away at people
and their performance. It robs people of their potential,
even if they are just working around it. What I know from my research
is when we have more civil environments, we’re more productive, creative,
helpful, happy and healthy. We can do better. Each one of us can be more mindful and can take actions
to lift others up around us, at work, at home, online,
in schools and in our communities. In every interaction, think: Who do you want to be? Let’s put an end to the incivility bug
and start spreading civility. After all, it pays. Thank you. (Applause) Thank you. (Applause)

37 thoughts on “Do Nice People Finish Last or Best? | Christine Porath | TEDxUniversityofNevada

  1. I loved your book, Mastering Civility, and now I love your Ted Talk. This is such interesting information that I share with my clients in all industries. Thank you.

  2. I almost wanted to vomit after this, there’s no such thing as good people and if there is they’re a joke in this pathetic piece of sh*t world, used as a fcking toy you until they are done with it and move on, forgotten like a piece of sh*t, there are only people who either survive doing what they need to do and if hurts someone else so be it, and don’t give me that “tHerES hOpE sTiLl”

  3. One of the best Ted speakers 🙏🏼 and I searched this particular topic so I’m especially excited that she delivered 💖

  4. Pleased share your knowledge about it me know it asking may have been created it mean of let me know how many have

  5. I am incredibly happy to know that there is already a legit proof that the quality often neglected and underestimated in the work place, business, corporate world or any industry is actually the most essential element for success.

    Outspoken and aggressive leadership will turn heads but being nice, respect and making people feel they're being understood will hit every individual homerun to their hearts and this will make them feel good and motivated to give their best.

    It's true that a true mark of an outstanding leader is that they will NEVER leave you with a feeling of their greatness but instead they will always leave you with the feeling of your greatness.

    One of the best Ted talk I've experienced!

  6. omg..i extremely had tears on my eyes, i'm into situation, where mean people are numbered @my work! so true, that's why my big boss acknowledgemnt me a lot coz, he understand what store in me, people insecurities manifest with themselves, they were so abnoxious if didn't give them response as they wanted to see me crying, i love myself, i go further work well in my job…ignoring there insensibility feed them much higher cost!

  7. I was once an employee who witnessed too many bully leaders and I said to myself when I become an employer I’ll create non-bully environment at work ……… and today I managed to do so 👍

  8. I’ve listened this ted talk over 10 times since I found it on Podcast.

    “Who you choose to be means everything. “
    This sentence became my no. 1 rule for my life.

  9. I spent the last 20+ years of my life living this as my personal truth. I was suffering at my last job, it was so hard but everyday I still was the first on there the last to leave, I was kind and loving to everyone. I worked so hard to help everyone and spread happiness and love and I thought I was fighting with love and kindness and love. I was let go without ever being written up or in any trouble at all based on rumors from a small amount of people who didnt like me or work directly with me at all. My hard work and love and kindness were never recognized at all, and my silence about my treatment just made it worse. Now I cant even find a job because my only job in the field is my only work experience. It is heartbreakingly true that being good to others in todays society just does nothing at all. My kindness is sitting here watching youtube instead of working.

  10. Wow we never thought about these kind of things but it really makes a lot of difference. Thank you so much for eye opening ted talk.

  11. Just getting ready to show this to my Sociology class, I see some holes in her hypothesis. People have always been stressed out, at times of war or extreme poverty, more stressed than others and yet people are more uncivil now than they've ever been. She said another reason for incivility is being seen as weak if you're nice; again, this has been a point of view for centuries, it's nothing new and yet the incivility is worse and worse. I would instead blame things that are of modern construct. Social media, immediate gratification and not having it modeled or modeled less and less and less by previous generations.

  12. Thank you Christine Porath.. I really needed this, I'm truly a nice citizen and what I got from this video is meditation🥰🥰

  13. This has to be one of the best most inspirational talks I've ever heard! This video should have much more than 38,000 views. It can only bring out the best in people!

  14. I thoroughly enjoyed your presentation. it took nearly seconds for you to have my respect. After high school I took a job installing fences.
    I work for a small company that did mostly residential. Then I moved to another company that did a combination of commercial and residential. I wanted to work there because the installers we’re better. Faster. And well respected.
    I started running my own crew being the best I could be. Not knowing I was your threat to the other crew leaders!
    The owner of that company really cut down another company! The next day I was working for that company. The workers of that company.
    We’re not nearly as talented as what I had been working with, or the owners! This is a 1982.
    Let me reach back a few years to 1969 I became a professional drummer in a country band. My father was the front man. Singer. And one of the best MC’s
    And MC is similar to a radio DJ.
    My brother played still guitar. I was 10 my brother was 11 life was awesome all the free pop you could drink and they paid you $25-$35 a night I was a millionaire!!! Just kidding
    So when I ran my crew I ran it like a band!
    I treated every customer.worker. anyone I ran into
    . With respect !!! But nice guys do finish last! And the BEST!!!

  15. Brilliant Woman! I can personally attest to the proposition that genuine Respect and Confidence brings out the absolute best in us. It's HUGE!
    Great Talk! Thanks!

  16. I had a protester at north eastern university who came one day to class and said you guys are in grad school, stop writing like high school kids. I did the natural thing, I quit

  17. I used to have an aversion to mean people and only liked nice people. Now I see people as decent or non decent. I too have had difficult family members, bullying bosses and mean neighbors, but I have learned to seek God to show me how to have a kind heart, mind and mouth no matter how others act/speak. I have been trying to see people as ones who have gone through challenges and have not learned yet how to be kind. I have not always had the kindest of words, thoughts or actions either. Taking personal responsibility helps us in relation to others.

  18. Well said, however we have to admit when we do the same negligent behaviour towards other people and to care enough to fix it. Be ready, not everyone would be forgiving and in the same space on your journey to get to be better person.

  19. Treating people badly is not only bad for business but for society as a whole. It is also highly immoral according to all the religions I know. So why do so many companies support this kind of behaviour? You talk about some of the values that lead to poor leadership and their actions.

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