No More “Mr. Nice Guy”

From time to time, John or I will receive a letter from a reader of The Go-Giver asking for advice on applying the principles; usually within the context of frustration at dealing with people who are not Go-Givers.

Typically, at the root of the challenge is an underlying false premise, thus the name of a two-part post with that right in the title.

Just recently, we received an email like this, and we hope the response will help you if you face a similar challenge. (Of course, we received the writer’s permission to print his letter, and we have disguised or deleted any details that could possibly reveal his identity or location.)

He writes:

The sales profession is very interesting. I’ve tried hard to be “Mr. Nice Guy,” a “Go-Giver,” and to focus on helping others. What’s interesting is how some customers will try to take advantage of me (and our company). Often they exaggerate or outright lie, make promises they don’t keep, and in general treat me like dirt. (I’m sure they treat all “salespeople” like that. I don’t take it personally.)

There are days when I feel like, “Okay, no more Mr. Nice Guy. I will just sell them and won’t care so much.” I’m trying to decide on which “sales personality” to adopt: Nice guy or hardass. My natural personality is “Nice Guy,” but I’m getting tired of being run around and taken advantage of.

May I ask for your thoughts about this? Any advice?

My response: While I’m very sorry about what you are experiencing, this one is pretty easy to answer.

You may be confusing being a Go-Giver with being a “nice guy” who allows himself to be treated poorly and taken advantage of. In fact, being a Go-Giver means no such thing. And being a “nice guy” should never (let’s make that NEVER) be confused with allowing oneself to be taken advantage of or treated poorly or disrespectfully in any way.

Being a Go-Giver simply means that you seek to embody the philosophy of focusing on providing great value to others, and that you follow the Five Laws. Nowhere in there does it say anything about being taken advantage of.

I have a favourite saying I’ve tweeted, posted on Facebook, and even written a blog post around over at my site. And that is:

“If you are nice and being taken advantage of, it’s not because you are nice — it’s because you’re allowing yourself to be taken advantage of.”
— Bob Burg

When you say, There are days when I feel like, “Okay, no more Mr. Nice Guy. I will just sell them and won’t care so much,” this implies that you expect to sell more by not caring about them. But in order to sell most effectively you do have to care about adding value to their businesses. I’m not saying you have to care about any other aspect of their life — but you do have to care about adding value to their businesses.

And they may simply not be interested in anything about you other than how you can potentially help them in their business. If that’s the case, then fine; focus on them, and on how you can give them more in value than you take from them in payment (Law #1). That’s the only (honest) way to build a profitable business, in both the short-term and the long-term.

Please don’t misunderstand or confuse what being a Go-Giver means.

Being a Go-Giver is indeed a profitable way of business. It’s also a way of doing business out of strength, not out of weakness (being taken advantage of).

About the author

Bob Burg is coauthor of the International Bestseller, The Go-Giver, Go-Givers Sell More and The Go-Giver Leader. He is author of the sales classic, Endless Referrals and Adversaries into Allies. The Go-Giver has been published in over 20 languages and has sold over 500,000 copies. To receive Bob's Influence & Success Insights via email, visit

Image Credit: Deadpool movie 2016. Twentieth Century Fox and Marvel Entertainment.