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The Underbelly of Being Nice

If nice is “the right way” or “good,” does it mean I am wrong or bad if I am not nice? If I have been trained to be nice, where are my real feelings going to go?

Why do people fight so hard to be sweet, nice, and accommodating, rather than honest, genuine, and authentic? It is a great question. Cultures are set up and rewards are given if you follow the rules: always say yes, agree to everything, be nice, don’t rock the boat, and tell people things you think will make them feel good and like you. What can possibly go wrong?

Let’s take a look at the cost…

Being Nice – Passive Aggressive

If I am focused on “being nice” which, according to the dictionary means, among other things pleasant and agreeable; I am focused on you and what you want, not me and my thoughts. “Be a nice girl/boy” is what so many of us were taught.

So what happens if I disagree with something, or I am having a “not nice” day? What if I am upset? If nice is “the right way” or “good,” does it mean I am wrong or bad if I am not nice? If I don’t like someone and I have been trained to be nice, where are my real feelings going to go – if I can even access them?

Odds are, I am going to be sweet to the person’s face and speak poorly about them behind their back. Sound familiar? One of the foundations of passive-aggressive behavior has just been taught to me. Now I am not recommending that we need to tell everyone how we feel about them, but we can stop being little cheerleaders around them when we don’t believe their actions should be encouraged.

An aunt of mine would use the comment “how unique” with an interesting tone when she disapproved of something. We all knew what it meant. Some version of that or silence is better than telling someone everything they say or recommend is great…when we don’t think it is great. We need to stop the automatic agreeing and think about how we really feel.

Being Nice – Broken Promises

If we take this one step further, I will also tell you things I don’t mean. Evidenced by one woman’s complaint to me about certain sections of our country where people at a party would say “Let’s get together” and never mean it, so nothing happened. The area of the country where she was from, if people didn’t want to get together in the futureArticle Submission, they said nothing.

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Dr. Anne Brown PhD, RN CS of Sausalito, California, formerly from Aspen, Colorado is a psychotherapist, speaker, coach, and the author of Backbone Power: The Science of Saying No. For over twenty years she served as the trusted advocate and advisor to Influential Corporate leaders, Trial Attorneys, Athletes, Leaders, Physicians and their families whose connections extended far beyond Aspen, Colorado.

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Twitter: @scienceofno

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