I’m all for courtesy, kindness and generosity. But do you want to be thought of as nice? I can think of many reasons to avoid niceness as a label.

Niceness can work against you. Studies about agreeableness show that people who are considered warm and nice are often believed to be less competent.

“If there’s an apparent surplus of one trait, they infer a deficit of the other. (“She’s so sweet….She’d probably be inept in the boardroom.”)”

Nice people can avoid dealing with conflict. Agreeable people don’t say what’s bugging them, for fear of seeming rude or damaging relationships. Unfortunately, those frustrations ultimately are expressed in indirect and unproductive ways.

Nice people don’t advocate for themselves. Because they don’t want to appear greedy, they don’t ask for raises, promotions or a higher starting salary. They hope that their hard work and talent are obvious.

Nice people don’t give feedback when it’s needed. They are indirect (or mute) when it comes to giving constructive feedback, even when the situation clearly warrants it. Confusing giving helpful feedback with being mean, they avoid it or soft-pedal the truth.

Nice people don’t stand up for their truths. Nice people don’t speak up about what is most important – who they are and what “truths” that are central to their being. They don’t want to upset others, even if it means being untrue to themselves.

Yes, I will continue to strive for niceness, well aware that my desire to be pleasant can’t take precedence over good old-fashioned courage and truth-telling.


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