Well, if there was ever a loaded question, this one would be it. It’s like asking your husband, “Does this make me look fat?” But seriously, I think it’s a question that a whole lot of us need to ask ourselves (especially, sorry guys, you gals out there). Women are very often raised to always “be nice” and to always respond politely. I’ve written a lot on being nice in these times since COVID (see my blogs: Why Are Customers So Rude? and Planes, Trains, Buses and Our Old Adversary COVID 19 ) but today I’d like to talk about just the opposite. Are you too nice?
Bruce recently sent me an article from Reader’s Digest entitled 15 Signs That You’re Actually Too Polite. It got me thinking. Throughout their childhood, I always told my girls to only say they were sorry if they truly were, because women in my generation were raised to apologize at the drop of a hat, to make peace, and to always “be nice.” What happens when you do this, however, is that you lessen the value that other people place on you and your opinions. You also lessen the value of your heart-felt apology. So what are us nice (or not-so-nice) people to do? I say, always try to be nice, but give it some thought, if you’re doing a lot of the following you may be overdoing it.
1. Do You Always Defer?
It’s nice to make nice, but do you let everyone else’s opinions rule the day? Finding common ground is one thing, but letting the other person’s opinion always be paramount is quite another. If you don’t want tacos, don’t eat tacos. Don’t want to watch that scary movie, read your book instead. As Doctor Seuss would say, “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.” And speaking of speaking up…
2. Do You Fail To Speak Up?
Bruce and I are both fairly conflict averse – neither of us likes to argue, which works for us, most of the time. But if you fail to speak up when things bother you, you run the risk of bottled up resentment. We have both learned that speaking up, in a kind and loving way, makes us a better couple. If you fail to speak up when you are being treated badly in a store for example (and you can do this in a kind and constructive way) you ARE really being too nice. If a friend you value talks behind your back and you don’t address it, you’re letting that person be the director of the movie that is your life, and you’re being too nice.
3. Do You Compliment People Excessively?
My Mom has a funny expression she uses sometimes when she compliments people, she says, “Well, that just came right up from my toes.” What she means by this is that the compliment, whatever it is, is 100% genuinely felt by her and genuinely expressed. My Mom does NOT compliment excessively. She says what she means only when she truly means it. If you find yourself complimenting excessively or using too many superlatives to describe someone or their behavior, you’re probably too nice. Over complimentary people are also perceived to be insincere because of the frequency of their compliments and flowery language. It’s not that you’re choosing to be unkind by complimenting less, what you’re actually doing is giving more power to your words when you do choose to use them – and that’s even nicer.
4. Do Yo Say Yes to Just About Everything?
People who know me well know that if I say I’m going to do something I’m going to do it, with very few exceptions. My Dad always taught us to be true to our word, and that’s how I try to live. Given that, I have to be really careful about what I say yes to, because for me that means I’m committed. Do you say yes to everyone and everything, even to things you know you can’t do for lack of time, talent or treasure? Do you say yes to “make nice” and then let people down? Or kill yourself trying? This is a sure fire sign that you’re just too nice. A lot of women I know have this problem and get very little sleep because of it. If this is you, it may be time to discover a few “tricks” for saying no in the nicest way possible. Say something like, “I’ll have to think about that and get back to you.” This puts off the immediacy of a response and gives you time to truly ponder the commitment. Or try something like, “I’m pretty overwhelmed right now with my other responsibilities, but thanks for thinking of me for the project.” Do you still have a not-so-nice person pressing you for yet-another yes? Try the simple, “No, I’m sorry. I can’t.” Believe-it-or-not, it works almost all the time.
A Final Thought…
Being nice is great. Being too nice, however, is exhausting. It allows people to run roughshod over your life and direct the flow of your destiny. Nobody wants that. Nobody… not even really nice people.
As always… thank you for the privilege of your time today… be safe out there, my friends… and have fun!