“You’re too good to be true.” How many times have I heard that?
You’d think that being naturally upbeat, positive, happy to help others would come across as a good thing. Sadly, you’d be wrong.
Especially in business.
It’s my experience that kindness, generosity (especially with time) & caring are more likely to be viewed by management & above with skepticism & flat-out distrust rather than appreciation.
It wasn’t until today that what a vice president at BISYS said regarding my being named a 2000 Employee of the Year – “Since you’re the subject of 1/4 of the thank you notes that came in about our 1600 employees, there wasn’t any way we COULDN’T honor you.” – sunk in.
Unlike other years, where there was one honoree, in 2000 there were two – myself & the exec suite’s golden boy, a colleague who absolutely deserved the honor as much as I ~and~ was someone the top tier could fathom. I left them baffled -WHAT I did I do to work my client-retention magic? They knew my results but hadn’t a clue about my methods.
What was Do Unto Others 1.0 to me was past their understanding. They could not understand doing something simply because it was right, rather than to work the best angle. With their eye constantly on the ladder of success, they couldn’t figure me out. Their feelings went beyond baffling to irked irritated suspicious.
When HR asked me to do a workshop on how to deeply satisfy clients, they were horrified when I urged my colleagues to identify their unique strengths & weaknesses, to find ways to tap into the strengths & avoid or delegate out weaknesses. The reason for their horror was understandable – a core secret of success is finding a winning process, then figurng how to replicate it for repeated duplication. There I was, saying the way to win exceptional client satisfaction is to be unique. Blasphemy!
The top tier honored me, but their hearts weren’t in it. Luckily, had worked at Prudential, so understood: I was undone by being nice.
The same problem had come up when I worked at Prudential HealthCare. It took me 10+ years, but I learned to respond differently when people said, “You’re too good to be true.” Instead of of my old reaction – backing away, scoffing – I’d move right into the person’s space, looking him or her straight in the eye as I responded, “And part of you really believes that to be true, is trying to figure out my angle..”
Strange but true, everyone – from the Exec VP to the front desk receptionist – LOVED hearing that; they recognized its truth, laugh, & we’d find our relationship stronger than before.
For me, that bit of boldness made the difference between my first 10+ years at PHCS, which were competent enough, and my final few, which was success followed by success. People started out distrusting my bright & breezy ways, but I looked it straight in the eye, brought it out in the open & moved on.
Long ramble to say that being kind, generous & caring is getting in my way – again.
People of a certain stature – the very ones I need to develop as allies mentors supporters – seem to be inherently suspicious of the consistently upbeat. If feels like they consider nice a 4-letter word. While I can tamp down my sometimes a big Tiggerish nature, am always going to looking for the better, always believing in the possible. It’s who I am – if others don’t get that. it’s a pity but there’s also no changing it. And I have enough serious successes in my life so that I am not tempted to become something else. Although I am aiming for more Kanga, less Tigger.
John & I have found work that calls on talents gifts graces we knew we had & many that had laid dormant – until now. I am kind & he is fair-minded & neither of us are good at playing the sort of games that can move one ahead & yet somehow lose the real game. We’re not edgy or hip or even well-connected. And looking over the past 65 years, it’s clear that I’m able to not be any of those things & still success a surprised number of times.
Thirty years ago, I dated a fellow who warned me that his friends didn’t trust me – at all. Because they felt that no one could act as interested supportive caring as I seemed & be real.
I’d break up with him by compiling an cassette of music that recalled our relationship, finally swinging into Bye Bye Love. It started with Cockeyed Optimist – a tip of my hat to my true nature. True in 1987, true today!
Too good to be true? That’s your call.