When most people hear the word nice, they immediately think of a kind, thoughtful person. But nice also means a lot of other things—and sometimes, being too nice can have negative consequences.
Nice means being obliging or yielding to another person. A nice person will do anything to make someone else happy and may not consider their own needs in the process. This type of niceness can lead to unhealthy relationships, which can impact one’s health and wellbeing.
A common use of nice is in phrases such as, “Have a nice evening” and “Did you have a nice holiday?” The word nice can also mean pleasant or agreeable.
It’s important to recognize when you are being too nice because there are many situations where this behavior is not appropriate, especially in a professional setting. According to Tessa West, an assistant professor of psychology at New York University and author of the book, “Niceness and Its Discontents,” if you are too nice in your work, it can be counterproductive.
In the workplace, being too nice can result in a toxic culture that detracts from job satisfaction and productivity. During this time of heightened stress and anxiety, a culture of niceness can be dangerous because it creates an environment where it’s acceptable to be passive aggressive or not stand up for yourself.
This type of behavior is often triggered by a lack of self-esteem or feelings of inadequacy. Those who have a low self-esteem tend to seek validation from others, so they become sycophantic. When they see other people being treated poorly, they don’t speak up out of fear that they might also be subject to the same treatment.
On the other hand, a nice person who has a healthy sense of self-esteem will be willing to stand up for themselves in certain situations. They will be able to differentiate between what they want for themselves and what’s best for their coworkers and friends.
Nice people are often empathetic and respectful, which means they treat others as if they were their own family. They take the time to listen to others and understand that everyone has something unique to contribute. They also show appreciation for others’ accomplishments by giving them a genuine compliment.
In addition to being empathetic, nice people are also resilient. They can bounce back from disappointments and setbacks with positivity by re-framing their negative emotions and looking at the situation objectively.
A nice person will always value other’s feelings over their own and go out of their way to help people feel good about themselves. However, it’s also important to balance niceness with firmness and fairness. For example, if you are tired or not feeling well, it’s not a good idea to try to be overly nice. Instead, take some time to relax and recharge so you can be at your best. Then, you can be a more effective and authentically nice person. For more helpful tips on being a more effective and authentically nice person, check out our guide to navigating difficult conversations.