If you’re someone who is constantly going out of their way to help others, who makes excuses for people who let you down and who is always trying to see the best in others, then you may from time to time have been accused by friends and family of being ‘too nice’.
Now this sounds like an oxymoron at first but essentially what it implies is that you go too easy on people and that as a result you may find they end up taking advantage of your good nature. While we all want to be kind to others, we don’t want to do so at our own expense and don’t want to be thought of as a wet blanket. So the question you should be asking yourself is whether you may in fact be too nice. And if so… what should you do about it?
What Does it Means to be Nice?
I believe that saying someone is ‘too nice’ is a bit misleading. I actually don’t believe that it is possible to be too nice, which isn’t to say that I don’t think you may have a problem if you find you’re being treated like a doormat.
The distinction is that it is not ‘niceness’ alone that is causing people to take advantage of you. Is standing up for yourself the same as not being nice? Is it unkind or unfair in some way to stand your ground and tell someone that they’re taking advantage of you and it needs to stop?
I would argue not, and rather I believe that most people who are accused of being too nice, instead have the issue that they care too much about what other people think.
Understanding the Difference
It is possible to be firm while still being nice. Being nice means doing kind things for other people, it means being polite and respectful when talking about or to others, and it means smiling and generally making people feel good about themselves by being in your company.
On the other hand, if you just care too much about what other people think of you, then you won’t be able to turn anyone down, you won’t be able to tell them off when they take advantage of you and they will quickly learn that they can get away with anything.
And the crucial point to bear in mind here too is that worrying what others think of you is actually not something that has to go hand-in-hand with being nice. You can be nice behind the scenes without anyone having to know about it, and actually this tends to suggest that you are in it for other people rather than being in it for the glory.
So next time someone asks you to do something and you think they’re being unfair, or it’s just very inconvenient for you, think twice before you automatically say ‘yes’. And if you are going to say yes, then ask yourself whether you’re saying yes because you genuinely want to be nice, or because you’re afraid of saying no and looking worse as a result.