The Dark Side of Being Nice


A nice person is someone who’s warm, friendly, and helpful. They tend to be able to see the silver lining in even the most challenging situations and are always ready to lend an ear.

They also understand that everyone has a story. They’re able to see past a grumpy cashier or waitress and know that her husband just broke her leg or that she was recently diagnosed with cancer. It’s these types of connections that give a real sense of fulfillment to nice people and help them find their purpose.

However, there is a dark side to niceness that can be dangerous to your mental health. If you’re constantly feeling exhausted, overwhelmed, or burnt out, it may be a sign that you need to scale back your niceness.

In a culture that values interpersonal warmth over accountability, “nice” may be the biggest threat to your psychological safety. In other words, a lack of critical feedback can lead to a culture of mediocrity, which Wharton psychologist Adam Grant refers to as one of the “deadly sins of work.”

People who are nice are also often perceived as less competent and effective. This can be due to a misunderstanding of what nice actually means. Psychologists define it as prosocial behavior, which is a group of actions that promote the well-being and safety of others. Nice actions include sharing, helping, comforting, and encouraging, and they’re often rewarded with positive emotions such as pleasure, trust, and belonging.

The problem is that when we use the word nice to describe ourselves, we’re implying that being prosocial is something that comes naturally to us. However, the truth is that it’s a learned skill. Being nice requires a conscious decision to make someone else’s feelings more important than your own. It also involves a level of denial that can have a negative impact on your own emotional health.

Another problem with being nice is that it’s often used as a cover for manipulative behaviors. An overly nice person is more than likely aware that they’re being manipulative, but they continue to do it because they believe they deserve the love they feel they’re not getting from other people. This can end in disaster for both parties.

A genuinely nice person knows when to stop helping others because they’re also taking care of themselves. They don’t compromise their own core values in order to please everyone around them, so they can avoid the pitfalls of being overly nice.

If you want to become a more genuinely nice person, start by being more aware of your own needs and desires. It may take time and practice, but it’s worth it in the long run to be a person who’s true to yourself and helps you feel good about yourself. Plus, you’ll be a happier and more resilient individual. After all, if you’re always trying to please, how happy are you really?