This week I’ve been reflecting on what we mean by being ‘too nice’. This topic has raised in coaching sessions by several clients who feel that they’re not being firm enough, that worry they’re being taken advantage of. How do you get the balance right between being firm and fair? How do you give people flexibility but still get what you need from them? Whether you’re managing a team or juggling multiple clients, dealing with suppliers or handling challenging personal conversations, how do you avoid being ‘too nice’?

You will regret many things in your life but you will never regret being too kind or too fair.” Brian Tracy

Are you too nice?

Let’s start by saying that being nice is a good thing – if we mean being kind and being fair. Helping people, having compassion and finding ways to get along with others is part of being a good human. But when it comes to being too nice, we’re often talking about being selfless because we’re uncomfortable with other people not liking us or our point of view, having a fear of rejection or being unable to face the possibility of letting anyone down. This leads us to try and always be agreeable whatever the situation, compromise too much, bend over backwards to make others happy.

As a business owner this can lead to a multitude of problems. If you’re afraid to say ‘no’, if you can’t stand up for your own decisions, if you can’t be honest, you will struggle to establish boundaries with your team, your suppliers and your clients and you risk burning yourself out. Eventually being too nice or not speaking your truth will lead to you feeling invisible and disconnected with deep resentment and even anger. You will lose the sense of who you are and what you what. You will also lose your ability to really help anyone else. So whilst you’re trying to be nice, you’re actually hurting yourself and those around you.

I see it with managers who are afraid of hurting the feelings of people who work for them. To be a good manager you have to care about your people enough to be really honest with them. You have to let go of your need to be liked and instead focus on giving the other person feedback that will help them grow and improve. And that means being willing to hurt their feelings.

Here are my Top 10 things to look out for and how to change them:-

🌟 Apologising. If you say ‘sorry’ too often it loses its meaning and gives the impression that you’re wrong all the time. Try replacing it with thanking the other person for their understanding and commitment.
🌟 Your needs. Nice people attract those who take rather than give. If your needs aren’t being met it’s time to be more honest with those around you. It’s also time to start prioritising your own happiness and making time for you.
🌟 Involved. Do you get dragged into activities and situations that are nothing to do with you? Are you being swept along without feeling able to say anything? Don’t be afraid to speak your mind and make a decision.
🌟 Feeling resentful. When you’re too nice for too long, your brain will start trying to tell you. That nagging feeling of not being appreciated means its time to practice saying ‘no’. Stick to your guns and respect your own time.
🌟 Need to be liked. Do you think people will only like you if you’re useful? Ask yourself what would happen if you said ‘no’ once in a while. Try it on small things and see what happens.
🌟 Overwhelm. Are you doing too much for others? Do you ever ask for help? Give yourself permission to carve out time for what’s important to you. Prioritise those things that will make the biggest impact for you.
🌟 Your ideas. Do you second guess yourself or even shoot down your own ideas? Putting yourself down can become a habit. Break it by recognising the value you and your opinions offer.
🌟 Not enough time. People who are too nice are often double-booked and are then too afraid to say anything because they want to be liked. Practice slowing down your response, rather than agreeing and then having to back out.
🌟 What others say. The worse part about being too nice is that others take advantage. If people are dumping all their bad moods and judgements onto you, it’s time to make some changes.
🌟 Avoiding confrontation. It’s perfectly normal to dislike arguments but if you’re afraid of difficult conversations then it’s time to get some help in standing up for yourself.

It’s completely unrealistic to expect yourself to know everything or be able to do everything. Please be kind to yourself and if you’d like to talk through the choices you’re facing or any blockers in your business, let me know.

Lisa Zevi – August 2021