How Toxic Niceness Affects Workplace Culture


Nice people are thoughtful and considerate, which can make them popular at work or in social circles. But if this kind of niceness isn’t rooted in real consideration, it can become toxic. Toxic niceness can lead to a lack of accountability, a culture of silence, or even burnout for employees and coworkers.

The word “nice” has been around for more than 500 years, and its early meaning was different from the current understanding of the word today. The original meaning was “foolish or stupid,” but by the 15th century, the word had shifted to mean “pleasant and agreeable.”

Today, we use the term nice in a more positive way. In fact, a lot of people who claim to be nice are actually toxic, and their behaviors can have serious consequences. While a toxic workplace culture is one of the biggest contributors to the Great Resignation, some managers are turning into a culture of niceness. Instead of dealing with toxicity, some companies are creating their own version of it through excessive niceness.

It’s important to understand the difference between a toxic and a genuine nice person. A genuinely nice person will always be willing to speak up and act when it’s necessary. In addition, a true nice person will be able to balance being kind and supportive while also maintaining their own personal boundaries.

Toxic niceness can take many forms, including passive-aggressive behavior, emotional blackmail, and bullying. The root cause of these behaviors is low self-esteem and a desire to please everyone. People who are in this condition often have trouble saying no or standing up for their beliefs. They may be unwilling to challenge the status quo or they may fear being judged by others.

In contrast, a genuine nice person is comfortable with their own values and beliefs and will stand up for them in the face of opposition. A genuinely nice person will own their mistakes and strive to make things right, but they will also be able to let go of past mistreatment.

A genuinely nice person will be willing to help others, whether they know them or not. They’ll be a listening ear, offer support, and provide encouragement when needed. They’ll also give compliments and show their appreciation when someone deserves it.

A good leader will be able to distinguish between a genuinely nice person and someone who is just acting nice for the sake of it. They will make sure their teams have clear expectations, standards of performance, and meeting types so they can hold people accountable. They will be able to channel and manage the tension that is inherent in working together so that it doesn’t get destructive or toxic. They’ll also be able to keep their team engaged and motivated by finding ways to celebrate wins and successes. To learn more about how to be a genuinely nice person, read our article on The Science Behind Being Nice. It includes tips on how to encourage positivity, avoid being rude, and stay positive when facing a challenging situation at work or in life.