The Virtue of Being Nice

Nice is a French city, a seaport, and the capital of the Alpes-Maritimes department and Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur region, southeastern France. It is located on the Baie (bay) des Anges and is the leading resort city of what is known as the French Riviera. It has a long history of being a popular tourist destination. In addition, the city is home to many museums, including the Musee Marc Chagall, Musee Matisse, and the Museum of Asian Art.

Being nice is about treating others with kindness and respect. It also means being generous and putting other people’s needs ahead of your own. Being nice can involve small gestures, such as letting someone else go in front of you in line or helping a friend move. It can also include bigger acts, such as donating to charity or stepping in to help a family member when needed.

Psychologists describe personality in terms of five broad dimensions, and niceness falls under the category of agreeableness. Agreeable people tend to be kind, empathetic, and supportive of other people. These traits can help you develop close relationships and have a positive impact on those around you. However, being nice can have a downside if it impedes genuine communication and authenticity. For example, if you regularly repress your own thoughts and emotions for the sake of being nice, those feelings will eventually rise to the surface, and you may find yourself in the middle of an emotional outburst.

Nice can be a challenging virtue to master, especially in today’s political climate, where many politicians use nice as a cover for unethical behavior. For instance, it’s easy to see how bipartisanship might be a good thing, but that kind of niceness may actually become problematic if the hostility between parties leads to an endless cycle of back-channel discussions and kangaroo courts.

On this week’s episode of That’s What They Said, University of Michigan English Professor Anne Curzan explains how the meaning of nice has changed throughout history. It wasn’t always used as a compliment, for instance, and at one time, it meant foolish or silly.

If you want to be a nice person, try to acknowledge everyone you meet—even if it’s just by saying “hello” and “goodbye.” Be friendly with coworkers and classmates, as well as those you encounter on the street. You can be nice by listening attentively to your friends and colleagues, and by offering constructive feedback and support.

It’s also important to treat people with empathy and respect, even if you disagree with them. Be sure to show up for your appointments on time, and make eye contact when speaking. Avoid making offensive jokes or insulting others. Lastly, be generous with your time and resources. Whether it’s giving up your seat on the bus or offering advice to a colleague, being nice can help you build strong and healthy relationships with those around you. And who knows, maybe that will inspire them to be nice, too!