Demonstrating grace is the essential element in a successful interpersonal style. Many people think that “being nice” is the way to go, but this often comes from a place of insecurity and needing the approval and validation of others. People who are too nice are usually people pleasers. People-pleasing always backfires and is a weakness that can hurt one personally and professionally.
Nice is a weakness when you set yourself up to be taken advantage of, you do the lion’s share of the work, and you come in early or stay late to compensate for the slackers at the detriment of your own needs. You are perceived as a doormat. Colleagues are likely to feel invited to disregard your boundaries and take full advantage of you. This can lead to feelings of resentment, passive-aggressive behavior, and occasionally leaking snarky comments. If you’ve been overly nice, you should understand that your self-worth would never improve by trying so hard to please others.
Instead, expect others to treat you with respect and consideration, and be assertive.
- Learn how to validate and respect yourself, and stop doing so much for others. Stand for yourself and your goals that are meaningful to you. Set your boundaries and practice saying “no” when necessary.
- Don’t worry about “being mean.” You are being firm. Speak up when you are calm and centered. If you feel strong emotions, pause to name them (such as anger or resentment) and then notice the needs you aren’t on track to meet (such as respect and consideration). After you’ve thought through and prepared what you want to say, then speak up.
- Frame your opinion in the context of what you and your colleague care about. If you are both clear on the outcome you can agree on, you will build a stronger relationship based on mutual respect.
Nice is a weakness when you turn over backward to oblige others and ward off conflicts by saying nice or flattering things, and doing more for the other person to keep them from being upset with you. You come across as inauthentic. And if you’re trying to influence others but continually equivocating, people may question if you ever say what you mean. Praising others won’t make a difference in your impact if you aren’t comfortable also discussing areas where people can improve. By giving only praise, you sabotage your colleagues by not stating what they most need to hear. The apparent need for approval makes you look weak, and they’re more likely to disrespect, exploit and even bully you.
Instead, be direct. Make an effort to communicate your feedback – praise balanced by constructive criticism. And ask for what you want.
- Being direct is not rude! People appreciate straight talk. Most of your colleagues want to perform well, and they will view your feedback as a valuable contribution. While giving critical feedback to your colleagues can be frightening, if you provide straightforward, honest communication with kindness and compassion, it will be received the right way.
- Instead of being so nice, you should work on trying to be kind, and that this subtle shift will make the difference between workplace struggles and successes. Using kindness and compassion, rather than being overly nice is a hallmark of grace, since it portrays strong self-esteem and confidence.
- You’ll do a better job, and the energy that you spent on doing so much for others will shift to your goals and performance. You’ll be more respected, and your relationships with your colleagues will improve.
It may seem like a paradox, but grace comes from self-awareness, confidence and self-respect. The less “nice” you are, and the more you focus on respecting your boundaries and taking care of yourself, the more everyone will appreciate you, respect you, and want to help you.