Whether it’s a kind gesture, such as holding the door for a fellow commuter or bringing donuts to the office on Friday, or a genuinely caring attitude towards others, nice is a positive trait that people seek out. Often, though, the word nice is used without consideration for the impact it may have on others. This is especially true in the workplace, where a culture of niceness can lead to toxic work environments and even burn out individuals.
Generally, nice people are willing to help their friends and coworkers whenever they can. They’re the ones who lend a hand with a heavy load, offer to pick up an extra shift at the office, or make sure everyone is having a good time at work events. They are also more likely to be honest in their relationships, not attempting to keep things afloat when they’re clearly not working out.
But there is such a thing as being too nice. This can manifest in different ways, but it typically involves people putting on an act to get what they want. The classic example of this is the damsel in distress routine that women put on to convince a gentleman to save them. It’s also seen in children who lie to their parents for a treat, or people who are overly concerned about how they come across.
One of the biggest reasons that being too nice can be harmful is that it prevents us from voicing our opinions and concerns. We may feel afraid of hurting someone’s feelings or losing a friendship, so we go along with what they want instead of speaking up and setting boundaries. This allows bad behavior to go unchecked and can lead to a culture of mediocrity, which bestselling author Adam Grant calls one of the “deadly sins” in the workplace.
Those who are too nice can also fail to hold their coworkers accountable. As a result, if one person in the group isn’t performing well, the entire team can suffer. If you find yourself in this situation, it’s important to remember that you need to set new expectations and confront problems quickly. Otherwise, you’re condoning mediocrity and making it harder for everyone else to do their best work.
It can also be hard to break free from a culture of niceness because it’s so deeply ingrained in our work cultures. However, if you’re determined to be a more authentic nice person, it’s essential that you speak up when necessary and don’t allow yourself to be pulled into a toxicity trap. You’ll be happier in the long run and will have more genuine connections to those around you. Then, when you do encounter a negative person, you’ll be able to recognize them for who they are and move on.