Seattle folks are famous for being “nice.” This is a good thing. A very good thing.

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It may look nowadays as if nice people are finishing, if not last, then well to the rear of the pack. Rudeness and crudeness seem to be shrugged off, if not publicly rewarded. In some sectors of society, kindness, consideration, generosity and fairness are even ridiculed, and looked upon as signs of weakness and naïveté.

But take heart, dear reader. “Niceness” is still an important key to success, professionally as well as personally.

First off, everyone — including employers and colleagues — prefers to be around decent, kind, compassionate, and fair-minded people. The resulting positive work environment leads to higher creativity and productivity. Obviously, the nicest among us excel at teamwork, and doesn’t every area of human endeavor these days involve working in a team?

Some will tell you that niceness puts you at a disadvantage. The time you spend helping others could, in theory, be spent advancing your own agenda. But you know what? It doesn’t have to be one or the other. You can help others and yourself at the very same time. Helping is also an amazing way to learn, thus increasing your skill set in addition to building a strong network.

Of course, none of this is to say you should be a doormat. You should still negotiate for what you need and deserve. You should still stand up for your rights. Just keep in mind that it’s entirely possible to be both liked and respected.

In the end, what goes around truly does come around. The positive energy you send out flows back to you, perhaps not right this instant, but at a time when you may least expect and most need it.

Finally, the satisfaction we get from being helpers instead of hurters is true, deep and permanent. The jerks and creeps of this world do seem to be riding high at the moment, but deep down they know that whatever pleasure or success they may be enjoying now is built on a very shaky foundation.

The world has not changed that much. Goodness still leaves a lasting legacy. The kind word, the helping hand, and the timely favor will live in the hearts and minds of other people long after you have moved on. And isn’t that what’s most important?