There was a period of time where I answered the question of “What three words would you describe yourself as?” – with one and it was nice. This was directly out of college during my interviews. The facial expressions said, “Huh, what? Couldn’t you pick something more aggressive?” Being nice didn’t mean I wasn’t a go-getter. It did mean that my approach was friendly. We spend too much time with our work colleagues not to like and enjoy them.

When did nice ever go out of style? Sometimes I felt like it did. I worked for an agency that had to find a more appropriate public facing name for what they called themselves, “Three F^&*ing A$$!oles.” Or fast forward a few years to when I was traveled half way around the world for a TV commercial shoot. I had to shut down a group of grown men acting like sexist bullies. We’ve probably all had some experiences like these. I don’t think anyone prefers to work with jerks.

I know being nice never truly went out of style. It may move up and down the scale of what is more desirable in employees. So what can we do to bring nice back into the work environment? How about hiring nice people. You could target SWANs which stands for:
• S: Smart
• W: Work (ethic)
• A: Ambition
• N: Nice

Do people stop being nice when confronted with the unknown? Then on a personal level perhaps these two quotes will help:

“Welcome the present moment as if you had invited it. It is all we ever have, so we might as well work with it rather than struggle against it. We might as well make it our friend and teacher rather than our enemy. “ – Pema Chodron

“May I meet this moment fully. May I meet it as a friend.” – Sylvia Boorstein 

 I still describe myself as nice in interviews. Do you?


Brown, Paul B. “Why You Want To Hire S.W.A.N.s: These four letters are a short-hand description for the kinds of people you want working for you.” Inc. March 17, 2015. Retrieved from


Photo by Amy E. Mikel: Pike Place Market, Seattle. August 2013.