Work Relationships

Why You Shouldn’t be Too Nice at Work

Written by Peter Jones

It always pays to be a nice person. Almost always. Some people who are genuinely (or un-genuinely) “too nice” are less likely to be taken seriously, and less likely to stand up for themselves or others—even in cases where such action would be just.

Perhaps you’ve also heard the phrase “nice guys finish last.” While that’s not necessarily true, there are certain situations in which you should curb the niceties and just concentrate on effective communication. Here are a few reason to keep in mind.

1. Give, Give, Give, and Never Get

If you consistently give more than you’re asked, and take very little in return, rather than be lauded for your generosity, people will start to get accustomed to this being the pattern. You’ll get none of the thanks and you may even come to resent the imbalance.

2. Quid Pro Quo

If you up your niceness level too much, you might find yourself expecting a similar level of niceness out of everyone around you. When this fails to materialize, you might grow a little peeved.

3. You’ll Be Like an ATM

People will start coming to you only when they need something, which can be extremely alienating. You’ll feel like a doormat—like you’ve become a tool to help others succeed, while achieving very little for yourself. You may even attract needy people, like a magnet.

4. You’ll Project Weakness

You might be perceived as weak, particularly if you never say no to anyone. If you’re always doing favors and putting others first, people will not only come to take advantage of you, they will also just assume you have no control over what you will and won’t agree to. They might come to mistrust you for this.

5. You Won’t Take Care of Yourself

Sometimes it’s important to say “no” to others so you can say “yes” to yourself. Remember self care? Yeah, that’s not just something you make sure others do to reach their ideal fulfillment. No one can make sure you’re taken care of but you. And if you aren’t getting your own needs met, you might become needy in return with your friends or family.

6. You’ll Seem Inauthentic

If you just automatically are generous and nice and kind, then it might not seem like true generosity, niceness, or kindness. Make sure that when you’re being super nice or going above and beyond that you really mean it. Be friendly when it’s deserved. Pick up slack when it’s equitable to do so, not just an expectation.

7. You Won’t Contribute

Constructive criticism is extremely important, between both friends and colleagues. If you’re so nice that you’re reluctant to give anything but praise, then chances are you’re letting people down. Focus more on helping the team succeed, rather than on being well-liked—and too nice to give honest feedback.

About the author

Peter Jones