Are You Too Nice to Others?

Bill Abbate

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Is it possible to be too nice to other people? Would you agree or disagree? What does it mean to be too nice? Let's look at the reality of what being too nice can create in your life.

Your way of being around others

What could possibly be wrong with being too nice to others, you ask? What indeed! Unfortunately, few people in the world actually practice the golden rule – "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." If everyone did, it would be difficult to be too nice. However, not everyone ascribes to that philosophy.

Why wouldn't people want to treat others as they want to be treated? Could it be because of tendencies toward selfishness, greed, egotism, narcissism, and many other shortfalls in our personalities?

While watching a recent video from one of my favorite YouTube personalities, MyMentorJane, some interesting things that had not crossed my mind came to light. You can find the video here: Top 4 Reasons Not to Be Nice

Want to hear a shocking statistic? Did you know roughly a third of adults in the USA report being bullied? How? Through physical intimidation, verbal threats, shaming, insulting, or discrediting someone.

Along the lines of bullying, gaslighting is a popular topic today, and you can find articles on it practically everywhere. Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse. In MyMentorJane's words, it "can happen slowly over time through small manipulations causing the victim to doubt their memory or judgment, ultimately undermining their abilities in the workplace or their personal life."

What do such terrible things as bullying and gaslighting have to do with being too nice? Anything, when taken to an extreme, can be harmful or damaging. Just as overconfidence and aggression can turn into bullying and gaslighting, being too nice can put you at risk. Why would anyone want to be a doormat! As a linguistics expert once said:

"If you behave like a doormat, expect to be stepped on and don't complain about it." Suzette Haden Elgin (1926-2013)

When people go out of their way to be too nice, it can tremendously discredit and weaken their impact. No one wants to be discredited and disrespected, do they? Yet because other people do not always live by the golden rule, you can bet being too nice will result in these things.

Four phrases that make you look weak

In Jane's video, she lists the top 4 things people use in everyday conversation that sends the message you want to "be nice" rather than "being confident," "clear, decisive, or even helpful."

Let's take a look at each of these four things that can make us look weak in the eyes of others. Jane goes through them in descending order.

Number 4 – "I was wondering…"

How many times have you started a sentence with "I was wondering?" If you are like most of us, too often! Instead of showing more confidence, we hedge our bet and use this weak lead-in for what reason? I can think of a few, such as we have doubt, are not confident in what we are about to say, or are trying not to irritate someone else, among others. All these do is let the other person know you lack confidence, so why should they take you seriously?

Number 3 – "To be honest…"

How often do you hear someone start out saying, "To be honest." I thought so – far too often! Why do so many people say this? Since realizing I use this phrase far too often, I can see how it is a weak start to any sentence. It's as if we considered not being honest but changed our minds! Why wouldn't we state what we want with confidence instead of saying such a silly thing as "To be honest…?" To be taken seriously by other people, get rid of this saying immediately.

Number 2 – "I just…"

As Jane points out, there are two proper uses of just in a sentence.

  • "Just: a short time ago"
  • "In place of the word "only," as in I want just one piece of candy. "

As Jane says, "Any other usage conveys it's just little ole me trying to have an opinion…" I admit to using "just" far too often in my writing, even though I know it weakens what I am trying to convey. Maybe it's because of the way I grew up or because I don't want to be too emphatic at times, but it is one word I just want to eliminate altogether! Yes, I wrote that on purpose to show how it weakens the sentence!

Number 1 – "Does that make sense?"

I admit it made me laugh a little when Jane retorts, "No, I'm a hopeless idiot. Run that by me again!" Asking such a question doesn't make sense 99.9% of the time! As with some of the other phrases, it weakens whatever is said before or after it and makes you look much less confident. Why would you want to do that?

Do this instead

As Jane says, let's "rip off that band-aid" and let go of the assumption you must be so nice. Instead of trying to protect yourself from conflict and appearing weak, be confident and respectful as a mature adult. Don't give in to your desire to please or sugarcoat your words.

Take the advice Jane offers, which will enable you to treat people well and represent yourself in a good way. Replace that old worn-out assumption that "I should be nice" with thoughts, such as:

  • I am competent
  • I am trustworthy
  • I am respectful

At the same time, work on your behaviors to:

  • "Be clear about what you want, what you're recommending, and what you're asking."
  • "Put your own opinion aside and listen to understand and really consider other points of view. Being open to being influenced is not a weakness, and leaders surround themselves with people who bring in diverse opinions."
  • "Assume positive intent, which means choose to believe we are all doing the best we can."

Changing how you frame what it means to be nice will change your outcomes and how others view you.

Final thoughts

If you are diligent in refraining from using the four weak phrases discussed in this article, you can quickly and permanently change the way other people see you.

By shifting your attitude and words, you will quit allowing the fear of conflict to control you. You can then show decisiveness, confidence, and a willingness to commit. Others will then view you as a person of character with a more commanding presence.

These are some profound benefits that can come by simply changing those few words in your vocabulary. If you want others to see you as responsible and mature, start the work to rid yourself of those four statements ASAP!

"Weakness of attitude becomes weakness of character." Albert Einstein (1879-1950)

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Semi-Retired-Leadership/Executive Coach -Personal & Career Growth Expert -Editor and Leadership Writer at Illumination -Author

Richmond, VA
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