The Department of Nice. That’s the federal agency I’m going to be in charge of after my daughter is elected president.

My husband and I spent last weekend in Florida, visiting our daughter and son-in-law. On our first morning there, we spent the earliest part of the day just talking and sharing thoughts on whatever subjects came up. Our conversation eventually turned to the presidential election, and to news and views of the candidates. At one point, I turned to my daughter and said, “You’d make a good president. Why don’t you run?”

I was speaking mainly – but not entirely – in jest. She is fluent in a number of different languages – such as Geek, SEO, IT, Sales & Marketing – that she uses in her business life at a website design company. She has a gift for teaching and explaining things in ways that make them easy to understand, which I know first-hand from computer-related issues and problems she has helped me with. And if you ask me, anyone who can speak in a language everyone can understand – and who can get everyone working together while addressing the concerns and issues of each of them – would make a great president.

That’s the point at which we decided that my husband, who has done a lot of traveling for his company, would be good as head of Homeland Security. And that our son, who served in the military and was deployed overseas twice, should be Secretary of Defense.

Our son’s fiancée is a nurse with experience in caring for diverse groups of people, so she would be perfect heading up Health and Human Services. And our son-in-law, who has worked at several start-ups and who co-founded his own company, is the logical choice for Secretary of Commerce.

That put everyone in our immediate family, except me, to work in the federal government. So – what could I do?

From time to time, people have told me what a good ambassador I would be – or am – for different clubs and organizations I belong to. But I know that an ambassador’s job can also require being a tough negotiator, and that’s never been one of my particular strengths. “You’re too nice,” is something I’ve been told more than once in my life.

Being nice is a positive trait, though, even if it’s not generally considered to be a very powerful one. It also seems to be on the Endangered Species list, judging by daily headlines, nightly news, business negotiations, and casual conversations – not to mention presidential debates.

So I guess it’s going to be up to me, and the Department of Nice, to change things. I’m going to start by rereading a book I bought years ago: The Power of Nice—How to Conquer the Business World with Kindness. I’m sure its advice will also work for government, and for everyday life.

Feel free to imagine your own family in government positions, including posts that don’t really exist yet – but should. Working together – to our individual strengths and for our collective needs – could result in a better world for all of us.

Wouldn’t that be nice?

The column “Find Your Buried Treasure” appears weekly in the Chanhassen (MN) Villager. This column was published on March 17, 2016.
©Betty Liedtke, 2016

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