Creative Synthesis

Living up to your full potential.

When Not To Be Nice

Some of the most intense pressure I feel is not from my work or my personal goals or even society. The pressure I have the hardest time managing and resisting is the pressure to please. Everyone. All the time. I know I'm not alone. Read More

Learning not to be nice

I've been nice all my life, usually it gets me the results I require. I'm perfectly okay to saying no when I need, but I usually do it with a smile.

I'm currently in a situation where nice does not work. I'm dealing with people who are employed within non-profits, a business model which seems to attract manipulative passive-aggressives. I've found that when I am nice my concerns are not heard and I find myself shunted aside and ignored. So I've changed my approach, I am curt, direct and I've dispensed with common etiquette. I've been a little more demanding. It's working out really well. My objectives are being realized, and I'm being taken quite seriously. I'm sure that these non-profit folks have much to say behind my back but I'm not interested in being their friend.

You make a good point...

... about having the choice to be nice, or not, rather than its being the default mode. Being that much in control is the eventual goal for many, I think.

I spent my whole life as a

I spent my whole life as a people pleaser. All it has ever brought me was disaster and frustration. Now that I've decided not to be "so nice" anymore I know that there are people in my life that are not happy with me. I'm not running around and going out of my way to do for everyone anymore. I think for me what happened was two big events that happened in my life that were tramatic that came about from not being appreciated. One being that my husband left me after 17 years of me giving my life over to him and my children for another woman. Then there was another man that I started seeing that introduced me to his parents when his Dad was dying of cancer and his Mom was in desperate need of help. He dumped me but I stuck it out with his parents, even went so far to spend the last 24 hours with them while he died. That man really hurt me, a lot. So now, I try to keep my distance as much as possible. I wouldn't say I've turned into a mean person but I have learned my lesson about letting people take advantage of me.

Thank you...

...for sharing your experience. Refusing to be taken advantage of is definitely different from being mean. A good reminder.

I wonder

I wonder why people tend to take advantage of nice people even if the nice people are to nice. I would never dream of taking advantage of someone even if they were a people pleaser. People are so narcissistic these days. I am a very nice person and enjoy pleasing other people. It makes me feel good inside. But I absolutely won't tolerate being disrespected for it.

I have a lot of wonderful friends in my life because of my people pleasing ways and also a lot of people that I have had to remove from my life because of my ways.

I don't even feel bad about removing the disrespectful, narcissistic, takers from my life. Sometimes that is just the way it has to be.

What a good reminder that

What a good reminder that pleasing other people really can be a joy when we are doing it while still protecting our own boundaries. Thanks for the message about the advantages of being someone who likes to see other people smile.

This is such a good article

This is such a good article and every teenage girl needs to read it. We are conditioned to be so nice growing up (as you mentioned in the article), but are not ready for reality to hit in the adult world.
I remember my first job at 22, right out of college, surrounded by middle-aged men. What a shock - many of them were out for the sexual harassment kill. I remember feeling badly if I thought they were perverts, weirdos, or whatever, and I didn't want to hurt their feelings by setting boundaries. Only took me a traumatic year or so, but I realized that if they're going to disregard my feelings and the law, I will be brutal in return...and had A LOT of laughs in the process.
Of course, I was working in east coast finance at the time...not exactly a field full of saints. Once I switched fields and regions it was nice to learn that not all middle-aged men are like that...and that if someone is a total jerk, just stay away and don't even bother trying to work with them. I wish I could broadcast this article in colleges everywhere!

My first full-time job was

My first full-time job was very much like yours (with the same angst on my part), and you make a good point that girls and young women can face a unique challenge in this regard. Many thanks for your generous comment.

My father passed away a few

My father passed away a few months ago. My stepmother has always been very challenging and negative but I kept the peace with her for years as not to upset my father who was dying of cancer. In his final months she became extremely difficult and was very bitter that she did not sign up for this and her life was horrible. She was also not happy with my fathers will even though she was left with most of his assets. After his passing she has been telling lies about my sisters and I to anyone that would listen. I never said a bad word about her when there were MANY things I could have said. Now we no longer speak and I can't help feel guilty because she was my fathers wife. I'm not bring mean to her but is it ok to jjust walk away and not have a relationship with her anymore?

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Lisa Rivero is the author of The Smart Teens' Guide to Living with Intensity and other education and parenting books. more...

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