Barry Bonds, the recently crowned home run king (and the less recently crowned king of steroids) was incredibly rude to the press for most of his career, and he is suffering for that now because the crowds are booing and the press is writing only parenthetically about his record-breaking performance.

You know the lesson here: You have to treat everyone you meet with respect because you don’t know who you are going to need later. The problem is that people use the lesson at work — they treat their boss and their underlings well. But they don't treat people they don’t work with well.

This is such a ubiquitous problem that half of American workers have been psychologically abused at their workplace, according the Handbook on Workplace Violence, a government publication. But the abuse is coming from people outside the workspace, such as clients, customers or, as in Barry’s case, third-party people you just have to deal with in order to get your work done.

Big-time journalist Patricia Sellers, in a lecture at Yale University, said, “The best thing, the smartest thing I’ve done is to be nice to assistants and secretaries. I believe you should be nice to everybody. As you rise, you will see the world gets so small.”

She describes, in fact, what happens to a guy like Bonds. When you are on top of the world, you stand on the part of the mountain that is very small. The number of people you really talk to at the top is small. It’s more intense than at the bottom, where there’s room for tons of people.

Extremely talented people can get to the top while being a jerk, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be celebrated. After all, the baseball writers are also the Hall of Fame voters.

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1 reply
  1. Benjamin Strong
    Benjamin Strong says:

    I enjoyed your blog on Barry Bonds and being nice. As a Federal
    > government employee I am not allowed to fly in business or first class
    > (despite the fact that many of my co-workers violate the rule all the
    > time). That said I have found that when one of our folks at the
    > contract travel agency really helps me out I get her name and send her
    > flowers. It may sound like totally sucking up but hey, I haven’t
    > flown coach in three years. The travel agents are experts at getting “free”
    > upgrades all the time. I don’t send flowers every time I travel, I
    > would go broke. Instead I establish a good relationship with one or
    > two people at the agency and make sure to only speak with them. Then
    > I send flowers (usually once) and an occasional postcard from the
    > place I was traveling. They like the attention and reinforcement they
    > are actually helping someone and I enjoy the leg room!

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