Paul Butler | Work hard and be nice

I love going to my gym. Well, “love” is probably too strong a word. Let me fix this: I really enjoy going to the gym and I love what it does for me. I always feel rested and full of energy after a good cycling or swimming session. Yes, that’s a good summary – I love my gym and I love what I get out of the class.

Transferring this to the workplace, I have found that most people enjoy going to work and enjoy the fruits that fall from the tree of their labor. There’s something really satisfying about getting paid for a job well done, whether you’re an employee or an employer. Each of us sleeps well knowing that we have contributed to the economy.

There’s only one aspect of my gym that keeps me from loving it, and that’s the men in the locker room who refuse to wear shorts. Without attaching much importance to it, I find it rather unpleasant when I try to enjoy a sauna or steam room when someone is sitting next to me in a birthday suit. There is only one thing worse than sitting together as a couple in silence, and then the birthday boy starts complaining about this wonderful world or starts criticizing the place we both just worked at.

Let’s get back to this in the workplace. I believe that one of the reasons why some people only like what they do and not what they really love is that some colleagues make them feel uncomfortable.

We rarely have to choose the people we work with, and so we often have to learn how to work with people we may not necessarily interact with. I remember my boss many years ago in a distant country who wanted his team to have a weekly “happy (3) hour” after work. As a newlywed with a young family, the last thing I thought about was spending three hours after work mindlessly talking to co-workers about things I didn’t care about and didn’t want to hear about when I could be at home. .

That’s what comes to my mind when I sit next to a dude (and in my gym, often a very old dude) who wants to mindlessly chat about nothingness – and all this in only a suit given to him by the Creator.

One aspect of human interaction that creates grief in the world’s workplaces is when people drop decorum and gossip about others. Hearing a colleague speak badly of a boss, or criticize a colleague, or laugh at the insanity of a client’s question, stops many from loving what they do every day.

People go to work to make money, to do what they want to do with who they want to do it with. In the process of all this, most intelligent people want to be treated the way they treat others. This golden rule invisibly binds us together, and therefore, deep down, we know that gossip is not good. In the same way, we don’t have to reveal ourselves to those with whom we have all we have in common, which is that we get the same payroll or membership list.

There is a growing trend in the workplace called “Psychological Safety” which boils down to “You make yourself”. The problem is that when others have to work or train next to you, they would actually prefer that you not be yourself if all you are going to do is complain and criticize, metaphorically sharing your junk.

One of the best pieces of advice a leader gave me early in my career was, “Work hard and be nice.” Libraries are full of books that explain these five words: “Work hard and be good.” Whether it’s between office cubes; at workplaces or even during a group video call – “Work hard and be nice.” Refrain from gossip. There’s no need to wear your heart on your sleeve, and in fact, do us all a favor and cover up if your problems are an inconvenience to others. Seriously, talk to a specialist. Until then, work hard and be nice.

Paul Butler is a Santa Clarita resident and client partner of Newleaf Training and Development of Valencia ( If you have questions or comments, please email Butler at [email protected].

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