In the past three years, I have heard the following sentence from very well-meaning people more times than I can remember:
“People always tell me that I’m too nice.”
My response to that statement is consistently the same:
It is impossible to be “too nice.”
And even if it was somehow possible, would it be a bad thing?
According to Merriam-Webster, nice is defined as being “kind, polite and friendly.” Seriously, I dare you to turn on the TV right now to any station that’s covering the upcoming presidential election and tell me that we can’t use an extra serving of “kind, polite and friendly” in our world right now.
But I digress–the problem is the misguided idea that we can be too nice, and the equally-misguided idea that being too nice (if it were even possible) is a bad thing.
Hopefully this blog post will put both of those pesky issues to bed once and for all.
Being Nice, Clarified
Picture this scenario:
You are out on a date at a fancy restaurant with a person who seems to be extremely kind, polite and friendly. In fact, you couldn’t possibly be more impressed with how nice your date is…but, that all changes once the waiter finally arrives at your table to take your order.
For some reason, once the waiter arrives, your date morphs into an entitled asshat and starts berating the waiter and treating him in a subhuman manner for no apparent reason. As much as you want to minimize your date’s behavior toward the waiter as an isolated incident, your date doesn’t let up with the hideous behavior toward the waiter for the entire dinner.
Here’s my question for you: would you consider your date to be a nice person?
I’m hoping that your answer to that question is “no.” Even if your date was kind, polite and friendly to you, I’m guessing that the behavior toward the waiter would set off some red flags.
We’ll revisit this hypothetical scenario in a moment, but for now, let’s shift gears for a minute and talk about you.
If you fail to set boundaries with people, if you avoid challenging conversations because you don’t want to hurt others’ feelings, if you refuse to say “no” when you know that you should, or if you accept all sorts of unacceptable behavior because you don’t want to make waves, just know that you’re not doing these things because you’re “too nice.”
You’re doing these things because you’re uncomfortable honoring yourself.
There is nothing nice about failing to honor yourself, just like there isn’t anything nice about your date treating you well, while being rude to the waiter. Selectively choosing to be nice, doesn’t cut it.
Being truly nice is about being kind, polite and friendly consistently. And yes, that includes being nice to yourself too.
This includes (but is not limited to) respectfully standing up for yourself, respecting your boundaries by saying “no”, compassionately having difficult conversations, and walking away from toxic relationships before they destroy your happiness, sanity and your health.
Most importantly, don’t confuse dishonoring yourself with being too nice–those two things couldn’t be any further apart.
The truth is that there is no way that you can be too kind, too polite or too friendly to yourself or to anyone else.
The Bigger Issue: Discouraging Niceness
To me, the bigger issue are the ones who actually have an issue with people who they believe are “too nice.”
We’ve already addressed how people often mistakenly confuse dishonoring themselves (or worse, being a doormat) with being too nice, but what about the people who are told that they are too nice because they:
- Smile a lot
- Hug people often
- Talk to strangers
- Are consistently friendly and kind to service professionals
- Willingly (and happily) give up their time to help others
- Have the ability to connect with people quickly
- Feel a deep sense of empathy for others who are in pain
- Frequently share how much they care about others
- Are genuinely happy
If any of those bullet-points describe you, and you’re being told that you’re “too nice,” you have my fullest encouragement to ignore them completely. The world needs more of those things, not less.
The thought that there are people out there actively discouraging niceness is very sad to me, but it would be much sadder if you allowed them to influence your ability to positively change the world in any way.
The world needs your light, and please know that if you are consistently kind, polite and friendly to yourself and others, then you are unquestionably a world-changer.
And because of that, I honor you immensely.
Have you ever been told that you are too nice? Have you ever confused “being too nice” with an inability/unwillingness to honor yourself? Jump into the comment section below and make your voice heard!