Are you tired of being nice?
I bet what you’re actually tired of is how poorly nice people are often treated, especially by those who are not nice.
Many people interpret niceness as weakness and vulnerability. Why? No idea.
But it makes it difficult to be nice when the world is teeming with jerks.
You’d think it would be the opposite. But, no. Niceness can seem like an open invitation for anyone and everyone to come and take advantage of you.
It’s hard to look at the news or the people around you and regularly see people being rewarded for not being nice. And yet it happens all the time.
But you’re going to fix that, and we’re going to tell you how.
And guess what? You’re not going to have to sacrifice your niceness to do it, either.
What you will have to do is work on some boundaries and reconsider exactly how you’re using your niceness to make your way through the world.
Boundaries are your best friend.
In a situation like yours, there is nothing more important than having healthy boundaries.
“Givers have to set limits because takers rarely do.” – Henry Ford
That statement doesn’t necessarily mean malicious people. It also includes people who just have a lot going on, who need a lot of emotional support, or who have problems they are working through.
Some people have intense problems where they look for social support. The problem is that many of those problems cannot be easily resolved overnight or with just a single conversation. It may be months, years, or even decades of them reaching out to find support (and finding it in you, the nicest person in their circle).
Then there are the people who do that that aren’t looking for support at all. Those people just want to wallow in their misery and reinforce the negativity that they are struggling with.
A person who is drowning does not make rational decisions to keep themselves afloat. That’s why lifeguards are trained to let combative people wear themselves out before trying to rescue them – so they don’t drown together.
So it is vital that you understand your own limits. When you feel yourself approaching your limits, it’s time to examine how much of yourself you’re giving in that situation.
Is this a regular thing? Does the person seem to be trying to make any progress? Or are they just wallowing in self-pity?
It’s not something you need to be mean or cruel about. You can establish a boundary with a simple sentence: “I’m feeling really burnt out right now. I think it would be better if you reached out to a professional, to a warmline, or a crisis line.”
(Note: A “warmline” is kind of new to a lot of people. This is a type of hotline for people who are having a hard time but are not in crisis. There are a variety of warmlines available for different demographics of people to get trained support. Try googling your area and warmline to see what pops up.)
An establishment of boundaries is going to generally cause one of two reactions. Either the person will be cool about it, understand, and back off, or they may respond with anger or more pressure.
Suppose they respond with anger or more pressure. In that case, you’ll want to get out of the situation however you can and limit your interactions with that person. It’s generally a good sign that they don’t have your best interests in mind at all.
Learn to say “no.”
Many nice people need to learn how to say no. Again, takers will take as much as you let them.
Consider a work environment where you have an overbearing boss or coworkers. You say yes because you want to be helpful and a team player because management tells you that you should be a good employee. To some degree, that’s true. And in a good working environment, being a team player and working well with others is a positive that can open doors for you.
However, if you’re not in a good work environment, saying “yes” means you will get saddled with every other bit of work that other people don’t want to do. If they know they can pawn it off on you and make you responsible for it, they will.
So you can’t just blindly say yes; otherwise, you’ll end up doing the jobs of three people for the same amount of money while your boss tells you that they just haven’t had any luck hiring for the past six months, which is BS that they tell you to string you along and keep you productive.
Learn to say no, protect your time and your space. Don’t agree to do things that you don’t want to do. Don’t work off the clock or for free unless it is well understood why you’re doing it. Don’t let the demands of other people overwhelm your own precious time.
After all, you only get 24 hours in your day, the same as anyone else. Don’t let other people abuse that by being nice and saying “yes” to it all.
“But I don’t want to upset people!”
Look, that’s something you’re going to need to get over. It doesn’t matter what you do in this life, it’s going to make somebody upset or angry. If you agree to do something but don’t do it the way they envision, they get angry. If you don’t agree to do something, they may or may not get angry.
Conflict is just part of the human experience. You want to not be taken advantage of by the takers of the world. In that case, you have to learn to be okay with not pleasing other people all of the time and occasionally causing some conflict.
Now, here’s the thing: reasonable people that genuinely care about you and your well-being are not going to get mad at you for saying no. They may be disappointed, but they’ll understand eventually. People that care about you want you to be comfortable, happy, and healthy.
People that are taking advantage of you don’t care about that nearly as much. And make a note, because there are probably people who call you a friend who will get angry when you start saying, “no,” because you were useful to them before. And now you’re not.
You may face some arguing or confusion about the change in expectations, even in a good relationship. Conflict in a relationship isn’t necessarily a bad thing! It’s the way we resolve those conflicts that matters. A person who cares about you will get onboard. A person who doesn’t will drag that out and argue with you about it long after you’ve made the decision.
That is a wonderfully good thing for you to know who cares about you and who doesn’t.
Excessive niceness is untrustworthy.
“But I’m nice! What more could people want!?”
How about some honesty? People aren’t that nice all of the time. And there are plenty of times where niceness is not at all called for.
What if your friend asks you for an honest opinion – and your opinion isn’t nice? So you don’t give them your honest opinion, you’re nice to them and tell them what you think they want to hear because you don’t want to upset them!
That’s the wrong thing to do. It makes you an untrustworthy person that needs to be treated skeptically.
You don’t have to be cruel, but you don’t have to be nice either. There is a balance. Sometimes people need to hear a difficult, blunt truth to examine what they’re doing so they can do better.
But you can’t be that person if you’re always nice, always trying to not rock the boat, never sticking up for yourself, or practicing honesty in your life.
Niceness is a valuable thing, sometimes. Politeness and respect can open doors and improve how you feel about yourself and the world. But there are plenty of times when being nice is not the right answer, and it comes down to learning how to say no and establishing boundaries to protect yourself.
Kindness and niceness are not interchangeable words either. Kindness may not be nice at all. Sometimes it’s that jerk friend of yours telling you what you don’t want to hear because they care about you and want to see you do better for yourself. That may not be nice and may not feel good at all, but it may be kind because it’s genuine feedback you can actually work from.
Don’t let the not-nice people get you down and kill your niceness. Work on your boundaries and ability to say no. The people who are just using your niceness will drop off like flies, which will drastically reduce your emotional load and free up valuable time and resources to find better people to give your time to.
It will be a net gain for you, though it may take some time.
You may also like:
- 10 Ways Being Too Nice Will End Badly For You
- How To Stop Being Naive: 11 Highly Effective Tips
- How To Say No To People (And Not Feel Bad About It)
- How To Get People To Respect You: 7 No Bullsh*t Tips That Actually Work
- 12 Drawbacks Of Being A People Pleaser
- 9 Sad Signs You’re Trying Too Hard
- 14 Reasons Why Being Selfish Is (Sometimes) A Good, Not Bad Thing
- 7 Reasons You Should Be Wary Of Overly Nice People