Amongst people at dinner parties, networking events, and behind the closed door of my office, I hear, “I don’t want drama. I want honesty. I dislike fakey-fake.”
Then invariably I hear this declaration from one of the people I just described, in response to some interpersonal issue they are having: “You know what the problem is? I’m just too nice!”
My response to this statement depends on the audience. If you have the misfortune of being my friend, I drop a (loving) truth bomb on you. Otherwise, I make my point a little more gently and in time.
If you’re my blog reader, I’ll tell you like this: No, you are definitely not too nice. You can’t be too nice. What you are actually talking about is being dishonest, cowardly, and part of the problem you say you want to avoid.
(To be fair, you are definitely nice, but not for the reasons you think).
The truth is, what most people describe as “too nice” is really avoiding saying something the other person may not like. It’s appeasing your friend who asks if they look nice in a horrible outfit. It’s avoiding talking about your feelings, even when holding them in is hurting you. It’s saying yes to something you just don’t want to do.
When we don’t speak the uncomfortable truth, we invariably act out. We are quiet until someone guesses how we feel. We hint aimlessly at what we really think. We are withdrawn and angry about something we ourselves agreed to do.
These behaviors are drama. They are passive-aggressive. In short, these are not nice ways to act.
Authentic people find skilled ways to say things that are geniune and honest, even if it’s not exactly what we want to hear. ALL THE TIME. This is better than “nice,” it’s kind, respectful, and incredibly powerful.
There is a huge misconception that the alternative of “too nice” (avoidant) is harsh and abrasive. That’s not true. There is a whole other universe of being validating and truthful. There is saying, “You are always beautiful and I adore you. AND that outfit isn’t my favorite. But who cares?” Kind and honest, these are the real keys to authenticity.
Ready to stop being “too nice” and start being authentic? I can help! Check out my workshop that will teach you all about saying NO while being truly kind.
Please consider joining us!
“The Overwhelm Cure: Using the Positive Power of “No”
Tuesday, May 24th from 5:30-8:30pm in Portland, Maine.
Hannah Curtis, LCSW is the owner of New Approaches, a practice in Portland, Maine offering counseling, therapy, coaching, and workshops that help clients enhance emotional well-being. Her specialties include communication, life transitions, postpartum support, work/life balance, stress management, relationships, and life satisfaction.