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The Power of Nice: How to Conquer the Business World With Kindness [Hardcover]

Linda Kaplan Thaler , Robin Koval
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Sept. 19 2006
Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval have moved to the top of the advertising industry by following a simple but powerful philosophy: it pays to be nice. Where so many companies encourage a dog eat dog mentality, the Kaplan Thaler Group has succeeded through chocolate and flowers. In The Power of Nice, through their own experiences and the stories of other people and businesses, they demonstrate why, contrary to conventional wisdom, nice people finish first.

Turning the well-known adage of “Nice Guys Finish Last” on its ear, The Power of Nice shows that “nice” companies have lower employee turnover, lower recruitment costs, and higher productivity. Nice people live longer, are healthier, and make more money. In today’s interconnected world, companies and people with a reputation for cooperation and fair play forge the kind of relationships that lead to bigger and better opportunities, both in business and in life.

Kaplan Thaler and Koval illustrate the surprising power of nice with an array of real-life examples from the business arena as well as from their personal lives. Most important, they present a plan of action covering everything from creating a positive impression to sweetening the pot to turning enemies into allies. Filled with inspiration and suggestions on how to supercharge your career and expand your reach in the workplace, The Power of Nice will transform how you live and work.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

With a foreword by Jay Leno, how could this not be a nice book? Coauthors Thaler and Koval submit their own success in the cutthroat world of advertising as evidence that nice girls can finish first while taking home more than a dozen Clio awards along the way. Following up their bestselling look at creating compelling marketing strategies—Bang!—they turn most truisms about business inside out, arguing that good deeds are returned, not punished. Warning against a me vs. you mentality, they even suggest helping opponents as a good way to boost a career. Game face on? Thaler and Koval say, take it off. Being genuine, they explain, produces much better results. From crediting their friendly building security guard for helping them sign new clients to recommending chocolate as an accompaniment to presentation materials and invoices, they build their case for using little gestures to get you what you want. Though a lively and pleasant read, this is not a cutesy little bonbon of a book. Well thought-out and crisply presented, it offers key principles, case studies and exercises to help make niceness habitual. Some exercises, like turning personal disappointment into positive energy, are even quite therapeutic. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

“This little book will show you why women should run most corporations in America, and maybe the entire country. Reading Nice will improve just about everything in your life, and that’s a promise.”
—James Patterson, bestselling author, former CEO of J. Walter Thompson North America

The Power of Nice is a wonder drug! It could literally save your career and your life…. And let me suggest a first act of kindness: buy some extra copies for your enemies. I’ll bet they need The Power of Nice more than you do.”
—Keith Ferrazzi, author of Never Eat Alone, the bestselling book on building relationships for success

“Leo Durocher was wrong! Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval’s The Power of Nice is the antidote to our increasingly mean-spirited culture. I’m going to send a copy to every political campaign consultant I know.”
—Arianna Huffington

“In negotiation, the cheapest concession you can make is to be nice. And the returns can be high, as Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval show in this delightfully readable primer packed with practical advice and entertaining stories. I recommend it with pleasure!”
—William Ury, co-author of Getting to Yes and author of The Power of a Positive No (2007).

“For my money, I would always rather make a deal with people I like who treat me well. If you want to discover the surprising power of nice, read this book. Memorize it. Use it. You’ll be glad you did.”
—Donald Trump

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Most helpful customer reviews
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How to strengthen "niceness muscles" Sept. 17 2009
By Robert Morris HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Frankly, I think it would be ludicrous for anyone to need to read a book about being nice, either to understand what that involves or to be reminded of why it is important. That said, the sad fact remains that there are many people in our so-called "civilization" who are thoughtless, inconsiderate, rude, mean-spirited, and in some cases vicious. Of course, Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval know that. Presumably they also know that those in greatest need of this book are least likely to read it. Nonetheless, they clearly believe in the inherent value of kindness and convinced that it is possible to "conquer [or at least prosper in] the business world with kindness." They also believe that kind people are happier and healthier, that they achieve a higher quality of life as well as a higher standard of living, and that kindness can be an effective shock absorber in a world that seems to become nastier each day.

Thaler and Koval identify and then discuss "The Six Power of Nice Principles" and devote a separate chapter to each. It is important to note that these principles do not involve self-serving strategies and tactics. They comprise the foundation of a mindset that must be authentic, consistent, and cohesive as well as pragmatic. It is no coincidence that many (if not most) of the companies annually ranked among the most highly-admired by Fortune magazine are also ranked among those that are the best to work for and the most profitable. Southwest Airlines, for example, attracts far more job applications than there are positions available and many of the applicants work for other airlines. Throughout 30 years of frequent experience with Southwest, not once have I encountered an employee (either in the air or on the ground) who was not nice.
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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  90 reviews
36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's kindness but it's also empathy, networking, and other well-known good ideas Sept. 27 2006
By Jonathan Groner - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a sprightly, and brief, book that can be read practically at one sitting. Thaler and Kaplan know how to tell a good anecdote. The one that sticks with me is about Thaler's college music-composition professor telling her she had no talent for writing atonal, avant-garde music and should stick to "jingles": the result was a wildly successful career in advertising.

A lot of the advice here is of the "kindergarten" variety but is still invaluable. Tell the truth. Give other people the credit that is due them. Put yourself in the other person's place.

Actually, only a small portion of the advice here would strictly fall in the category of being "nice" just for the sake of being nice and doing the right thing just because it's right. Some examples: It is better not to fire people via e-mail. One should respect all human beings, whether they are security guards, CEOs, or panhandlers. That's called being "nice," or what Yiddish speakers used to say was simply being a "mensch."

Other pieces of advice here are more clearly strategic. Certainly it pays to cultivate friends and contacts: we hear once again the story about Bill Clinton shaking everyone's hand on the ship on the way to his Rhodes Scholarship at Oxford, telling them he hoped to be president of the United States some day. As many other business and pop-psychology writers have noted, listening is generally far preferable to speaking at one-on-one business meetings because the other person responds well to a meeting at which he is talking. Stay positive in a political or other campaign if you can; no one really likes hearing negative pitches all the time.

With that caveat -- that some of the advice is good but standard business-book thinking -- I can give this book four stars. It's really a nice book.
31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good book, Poor cover Oct. 8 2006
By Michael P. Maslanka - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Stuck in LA . Flight delayed,Desperate for a short but useful book. The last book I would normally pick is one with a smiley face. Glad I did. The book's Big Idea: we are all connected and when we do one nice thing it spreads and rebounds---in often very unexpected ways---to our benefit. Useful examples on how helping supposed enemies is often good business; insightful ideas on treating today's adversaries like tomorrow's allies; unconvential tactics on moving your frames from "no" to "yes". By the time the flight was ready to board, the book read through---a lot wiser. What they say about books and their covers, so true.
26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Honey or Vinegar: which would you choose? Feb. 11 2007
By C. Middleton - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Walking through the down town train terminal in Melbourne to catch the 12:15 p.m. `rocket train' to Bendigo, a gold rush town of 19th century Australia, which still manages to carry on and exist despite our states current lack of water, to see an old friend from my university days; trying to kill time, came across this extraordinary book. Short in length, the book's content strangely connecting to a conversation about business with a friend the night before, I decided to buy the text and read it on my two hour journey...excellent.

As the two successful advertising business women claim, to be `nice' is much more powerful than the age-old capitalist strategies in business: intimidation, arrogance, intrigue and a conscience capability to `make the kill' has always been the mark of any successful person or company. What Thaler and Koval have discovered is that basic good manners, being cordial, friendly, and unconsciously kind, will bring in more business than the other.

The author's give the reader many examples of `nice' over arrogance, kindness over aggression, but the most simple and compelling anecdote was the story about their buildings security guard, Frank.

Frank is a larger than life human being who, everyday, meets the NYC workers that move hurriedly to the elevator in search of that first cup of coffee or unfinished presentation. Good old Frank always greets each person with a big grin and a heartfelt `Good Morning'. This greeting is sincere and as time moved along, the workers' for the authors advertising business felt better in the morning and wittled it down to the fact that Frank was the reason (or part of the reason for their change of attitude in the mornings) and began to change their own approaches to business as a result.

The most interesting aspect of this story is that Frank won them one of their biggest accounts, an airline of international distinction. As the anecdote goes, the out-of-town- execs were a little edgy about coming to NYC, as its reputation, in terms of rudeness, is world renown. The execs entered the building and old Frank was there standing guard at the elevator, smiling, hand extended, welcoming them to NYC and the Kaplan Thaler Group. As the author's note, the presentation had been good, but the airlines comments, that if a company had a man likes Frank at their front door, they must be on the ball - the Thaler Kaplan Group won the account.

In life and business kindness and niceness goes a long way; and if consciously practiced, might have huge beneficial outcomes.

Good manners, please and thank you, listening with intent, honesty, put up with, and are nice to, those that irritate;

try to keep the focus of conversation away from yourself, listen with even more intent, give little gifts, chocolates or sweet items that can be eaten without guilt;

Swallow your ego from time to time and let it go, giving something you love to someone else that needs it more;

Compliment but with sincerity, smile, smile and smile again even though you don't feel like it because, more than likely, by forcing those lips to curve, you'll feel happy.

Attempt to feel what the other person is feeling, `walking a few steps in their sandals', and your point of view will change and you'll perhaps develop a bigger picture...

Thaler & Koval did not write this book to make a lot of cash. (Though they have because the advice is true and practical) Though, to be fair, being nice to someone will get you a lot further than neglect or arrogance.

One of the central lessons in this text, (one of the many) is that people remember acts of kindness and acts of selfishness and cruelty. One day you might be sitting in front of a potential employer, wanting the job, but in the past, you were not nice or even cruel to them or to someone they know. Guess what? Next?

I liked this book because its tenets are true and work in the day to day world.

To be nice or kind if you are not used to being so, like basketball, guitar or golf, takes practice to achieve any level of competency.

This book is age old advice, like a seasoned mature wine packaged in a brand new bottle...timeless and worthwhile.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Being nice can pay off! Dec 13 2006
By Blaine Greenfield - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
It sounds basic, but being nice is just something that not everybody

does--or at least not often enough . . . and if that's the case in

your company or organization, then please get and read

THE POWER OF NICE: HOW TO CONQUER THE BUSINESS

WORLD WITH KINDNESS by advertising executives Linda

Kaplan Thealer and Robin Koval.

This is a small but powerful book, packed with

plenty of examples from the corporate world . . . however,

students and others would greatly benefit from reading it as

well, as what the authors have to say makes an awful lot

of sense in any situation.

For example, they talk about how this one little act of kindness

made a flight attendant's day:

While traveling on a business trip from Los Angeles to New York,

Rachel Pine noticed that the airline crew looked extremely harried.

So when the flight attendant came by to check her seat belt,

Rachel offered her a Fig Newton from her family-size pack. "She

took it, and was so grateful that she looked like she was going

to burst into tears," said Rachel. Soon after, the attendant returned

and asked Rachel to follow her--to first class. "The attendant said,

`You have no idea what our last flight was like. If just one passenger

had been like you, it would have been bearable.' "

I also liked this technique for getting people to pay money

that they owe:

Gail tried a number of tactics to convince her creditors to pay--from

letters that said "Please pay soon" festooned with smiley faces to

diplomatic phone calls--but nothing worked. Desperate, she

stumbled on what turned out to be a brilliantly effective idea:

bribing them with baked goods. "I would send out reminders

of past-due invoices with the enticement that if paid by a specified

date, I would reward the client with fresh baked cookies, brownies,

cake--whatever they wanted. And it worked."

And then there's this technique that I currently use (and suggest

that others do, too):

The next time someone close to you is feeling cranky or

disagreeable, try handing them a few chocolate Kisses or

offering them the candy bowl. Although scientists haven't

completely unraveled the mysteries of chocolate, they do know

it contains several organic compounds that produce feelings of

well-being in the human brain. The tryptophan found in

chocolate, for example, enables the brain to create serotonin,

an organic compound that can produce feelings of elation and

ecstasy. And the phenylethylamine in chocolate stimulates the

brain's pleasure centers and produces many of the feelings of

infatuation, including giddiness, attraction, and excitement.

Lastly, THE POWER OF NICE contained some great exercises

that anybody could utilize . . . this one, in particular, caught

my attention:

Zip your lip

For one day, try to say as little as possible. Try to keep the

focus away from yourself. Where you're tempted to tell a

story, ask a question. Where you're tempted to say, "Oh,

that same thing happened to me...," ask, "How did that make

you feel?" Don't be obnoxious about it. If someone asks how

you feel about the new sports stadium the city is building,

answer the question. But then bring the conversation back to

the other person's opinion. At the end of the day, make a list

of everything that you learned. How much would you have

missed if you had spent the time talking about yourself?
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Business can be nice Oct. 4 2006
By Gil Wilson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
As a bzz agent I get to get some great info ahead of the mainstream. This Is one book I'm glad to have read.

The idea for individuals to be nice to each other and the rewards will come has been out there for a while. There's the "teachings" of Deepak Chopra, the movie "Pay it Forward," "The Power of Positive Thinking" (although this one is more on an individual level), Chicken Soup for the Soul and Random Acts of Kindness. These are simple ways of living in which we can be nice to one another and "karma" or the univers will see to it we get our just rewards.

Well now the business world can take heed. "The Power of Nice" has a business approach to being nice can help your business grow faster than dog-eat-dog. The authors have cited their own examples of how this has worked for them and have gathered real-life examples from others in the business world. You will read examples from Donald Trump (yes he can actually be nice) to Jay Leno.

Now, the really interesting part of this book is not the examples but they have exercises at the end of the chapters, which they call "Nice Cubes" that can help you actually put it into practice. They have also created "The Six Power of Nice Principles" which are a great way to refresh your self and your co-workers on how to be nice in the business world.
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