Nasty or Nice? You Choose.

“Be nice. Play nice. Talk nice.” We are told these words over and over as kids, and reminded of them as adults. “Nice guys finish last,” “nice guy syndrome,” and “no more Mr. Nice Guy” (or girl, of course)—all arguments against being nice. So can being too nice actually hurt you? Yes, sometimes it can.

I recently had a new stamped concrete patio poured and the contractor unfortunately didn’t do a quality construction job. Within three months of installation, 20+ cracks had formed. I reached out to him, asked for it to be replaced and was abruptly told, “No.” I tried to reason with him, to no avail. After a very long, emotionally-draining process, I chose to let it go. I wondered, was I initially too nice? Should I have been more ruthless in my approach? Would yelling and screaming at him have helped me achieve a better outcome?

I generally believe in being reasonable and that I should treat others how I want to be treated. We all know this. Yet, common sense is not always common practice. Because of my recent personal experience, I thought I’d research the concept of “niceness.” I didn’t think my opinion of behaving nice would alter, but I wanted to find out what I didn’t know about the cons of niceness:

  • Some people try to take advantage of nice people. Nice can be misconstrued as soft, but certainly better than being mean or rude. Choose “nice” over “nasty.” It just feels good.
  • Some may not strive to meet your needs. This lack of empathy may be due to being selfish or possibly because they experienced a similar situation. Be sure you communicate your expectations and needs to avoid this issue.
  • You may forget to be good to yourself. Nice people can tend to throw so much of their time and energy into the niceness they are giving to others that they may not address or take care of their own needs. Do your best to not get swept up in the negativity and problems of other people—keeping the pessimistic Paul’s and back-stabbing Betty’s at a safe distance.
  • You may be viewed with skepticism and/or mistrust. Sometimes unwarranted niceness is view as suspicious behavior. Sad…but true. Be clear with your intentions and exercise patience so the other person can sense your degree of genuineness versus danger.
  • Some may become jaded and feel that most people are not good. There are plenty of bad seeds in the world, but I choose to believe that most are kind, understanding and strive to be honorable people. Look at people and things through an optimistic lens versus viewing things as inevitably bad. When you do, you’ll see even more random acts of kindness and niceness, which is very reciprocal.
  • You may begin to resent those who are nice to you. Resentment is a dangerous and poisonous feeling. It significantly erodes trust and deteriorates relationships—often beyond repair. Choose to maintain a healthy and positive mindset—one with less resentment and more admiration.
  • Some may find themselves apologizing for things that aren’t their fault. Nice people don’t typically like to see other people upset. In turn, nice individuals can then start to shoulder problems and emotions that are not theirs to carry. Certainly, you should apologize when warranted; but ensure it’s yours to own.
  • You may find yourself overburdened with additional responsibilities. Being too nice is a quick way to become swamped with an unmanageable amount of responsibilities—such as: being volunteered for activities without anyone consulting you or accepting more than your fair share of work. Instead, just say, “No.” No is a complete sentence that nice people must learn. And don’t feel obligated to always justify your “no.” Justification offers a manipulative person a potential in-road to inject self-doubt and undermine your “no.”
  • Some may become a magnet for narcissists, manipulators and users. Nice people tend to be naïve and attract those predators who find it easy to steamroll and manipulate. Instead, ask questions while looking for motives and inconsistencies. Also, establish and enforce boundaries without letting emotions cloud your judgment.

Niceness is a quality that this world is in dire need of. It’s imperative that we spread this contagious, positive way of being; yet, at times, it can definitely cause unwanted issues, which we need to be cognizant of. When you’re too nice—to suppliers who can’t deliver on time, to colleagues who don’t do their work, or even contractors who don’t provide the quality service you pay them to deliver—you’re actually being taken advantage of.

Stand tall and confident, without waver or waffling, while being pleasant and polite—with a strong degree of nice. No one should be taken advantage of, nor stoop to a feeling of reacting emotionally when vulnerable. Often times the negative reaction from you is what is desired most from the other person. Do your best to keep your cool and choose nice over nasty. Handle the situation the best way you can, seeking external professional resources when necessary, but then…let it go. This action is simple, but definitely not easy; yet, is it worth giving up the sanctity of your personal space, peace of mind, and overall happiness? Likely not. Remember…being nice is not a character flaw. It’s a healthy and honorable choice.