Being Fair Is (Perhaps) The Most Underappreciated Strategy In Today's Workforce Being fair may require you to make difficult choices, but its value lies in the fact that you will never be short-changed for doing so.

By Aby Sam Thomas

You're reading Entrepreneur Middle East, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.


There was once a time when I was a fervent advocate for being nice at work, but experience and expertise have since made me reconsider whether this is an ideology one should actually embrace in the world of business. Because while being nice can cover a myriad of positive behaviors like courtesy and decency, it can also result in, say, you agreeing to something you don't want to, or you being hoodwinked by more nefarious players on partnerships, simply because no one wants to rock what might appear (on the surface at least) to be a stable boat.

This might seem to be at odds with much of the conversations surrounding work today, especially when it comes to ideas on building a wholesome company culture. But I think this only serves to prove my point- just because something I said upsets the status quo doesn't necessarily mean it's wrong.

One could, perhaps, dress up an uncomfortable situation in layers of niceness (often to the point of obscuring the entire matter at hand), but when has sugarcoating things that actually need to be said ever solved a problem? Indeed, our human need to be liked drives much of the niceness we display in the world of work. That might seem like a positive at face value, but let's take a moment to remember what is said about too much of a good thing.

An irreverent need to people-please can lead one to be either taken for granted or for a ride, and, well, I haven't still seen a valid argument made for being treated like a doormat. Plus, we've all heard about the dangers of surrounding ourselves with only "yes" people, and yet, that is the kind of behavior that most of us encourage in our circles at work. The ones skilled in the art of polite deception often enjoy a free pass, while those who point out the hard truths are deemed to be troublemakers.

Now, this is not to say that we need to behave like disagreeable villains in the workplace. I think there's an easier alternative at hand: choose fairness over niceness. Those two paths of action may seem the same, but there is a very important difference- the latter is (arguably) governed by a fear of ruffling feathers, while the former is focused on just doing the right thing.

Indeed, being fair may require you to make difficult choices, but its value lies in the fact that you will never be short-changed for doing so. At the same time, it will also never disparage those who truly have your best interests at heart. That's a real win-win situation- and one that I'd urge all entrepreneurs out there to get behind. Not only will this strategy help you do good business, it'll also help you run a good one.

Related: Advocating For Equality Isn't Enough; You Have To Do The Work

Aby Sam Thomas

Entrepreneur Staff

Editor in Chief, Entrepreneur Middle East

Aby Sam Thomas is the Editor in Chief of Entrepreneur Middle East. In this role, Aby is responsible for leading the publication on its editorial front, while also working to build the brand and grow its presence across the MENA region through the development and execution of events and other programming, as well as through representation in conferences, media, etc.

Aby has been working in journalism since 2011, prior to which he was an analyst programmer with Accenture, where he worked with J. P. Morgan Chase's investment banking arm at offices in Mumbai, London, and New York. He holds a Master's Degree in Journalism from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York.  

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