Consider how being too nice might kill your spirit, your career, your life and your relationships.
Few things in life are more trapping than the feeling of having things you want — no, need — to say to your boss, your friend, your significant other, your co-worker, your roommate, your neighbor and yet, the words just won’t come out.
You’ve said it to yourself, under your breath as you’re walking away, written it in an angry email, vented to your mom, who couldn’t care less about what your roommate did to you anyway.
It’s that, when it comes time to say it to their face, you just can’t bring yourself to do it. After all, if you can’t think of anything “nice” to say, you shouldn’t say it at all, right?
Well, not necessarily.
We glorify “niceness” as if it’s the highest virtue someone could possibly hold in society. But is “niceness” always best? Or does “nice” sometimes leads to passive aggression, unspoken bitterness and just downright lying? Research seems to show that latter.
Have you ever had a situation with a friend or coworker where they suddenly change how they are treating you and you have no idea why?
Don’t you run over the options in your mind? Like, maybe you said something that offended them, or maybe they’re jealous about the raise you just got that they wanted, or maybe you accidentally sent them a text message that was meant for someone else.
Suddenly you’re making up scenarios that didn’t even happen — just to explain their sudden strange change of behavior.
Wouldn’t it help if they just said what they were thinking?
But too often this is not what happens. Too often we talk around the subject, trying to quietly coerce or manipulate, so that we can get exactly what we want without having to hurt anyone’s feelings. Trust me. I’m the worst at this. That’s how I know.
We get away with this by labeling it as “nice” but is it really nice?
Or would it be “nicer” to simply clear up the confusion by saying what we actually think?
Several studies show that there is such a thing as being “too nice” — in the workplace, in our relationships, in our lives. I can affirm this research, personally, seeing as how I’ve spent way too much of my life being way too nice at the expense of speaking my mind.
The result is toxic.
It includes a general sense of helplessness over your circumstances and feelings of confusion and distress. It even steals opportunities for growth.
So the solution?
Well, the solution is not to be mean. Being rude just for the sake of being rude is not only arrogant and narcissistic, it’s also no more productive than being nice just for the sake of being nice.
But the solution is to learn to speak objectively and honestly about the realities we experience — regardless of how uncomfortable this might make people (including us).
- 7 Ways to Gain Appreciation & Respect
- When Being Too Nice Hurts You
- How to Tactfully Speak Your Mind
If being “too nice” has been a struggle for you, consider what it might look like to speak your mind, even in small ways.
Consider the peace and freedom you might be missing — and the opportunities you might be stealing from the people around you — by trying to be so nice all of the time that you don’t say what you think.
No Sidebar: At Work
Being “nice” is a nice quality for awhile, but over the long haul, it isn’t what gets results.
And as much as we could make a case for being nice online, a simple scan of popular online content shows that being “nice” doesn’t always pay. In fact, sometimes being nice comes off as boring or lukewarm.
Copy that sings is usually copy that tells the truth — whether that truth is nice or not.
No Sidebar: At Home
Although honesty might not be the easy route to take in the present, in the future, you’ll be glad you did. Honesty builds trust with your kids, with your significant other, with your friends.
You should know, if you’ve set a pattern of being dishonest to protect the peace in your relationships, honesty often breeds anger. Just because someone doesn’t respond well to your truthfulness, at first, doesn’t’ mean it’s not the right thing.
No Sidebar: In Your Soul
One area where it seems to pay to be more kind is to yourself — and this at times comes at the expense of other people.
You should know, though, there’s a distinct difference between being nice and being kind.
It might pay not only to learn the difference, but also to practice being more kind to others and to ourselves.
Maybe the answer is to practice something altogether different from “nice” and mean” — being assertive, which includes demonstrating a healthy level of confidence, being direct and honest, and staying in control of your emotions so you can negotiate and compromise.