“I wish I’d understood the difference between kind–a trait I still aspire to–and nice, which comes from the Latin stem meaning ‘ignorant’ and ‘not knowing.’ I am in a recovery program for nice girls.” ~ From Normal Is Just A Setting On The Dryer
Being Nice is Overrated
When I was going through my divorce, I got a card from a great friend that had a picture on the front of a feisty little girl, sticking out her tongue. On the inside it read, “Being nice is overrated.”
“Be a nice girl” is something we sometimes say to little girls. I didn’t realize that the word nice comes from “ignorant” and “not knowing” until I read the quote above.
But you know what, the word “nice” does have sort of mushy, compliant, do-whatever-it takes-to-get-along kind of connotation. In fact, I remember a good male friend of ours saying during my divorce, “When are you going to stand up for yourself? Where is your ‘righteous indignation’ about this situation?”
Being Too Agreeable
I read an article in the Harvard Business Review once entitled: “The Biases That Still Hold Female Leaders Back — And How To Overcome Them.” One of the things that holds both women and men back is being too agreeable.
Through a series of studies from 1957 to 2008, “Disagreeable people consistently earned more than agreeable people.” Human nature is such, that people who are too agreeable are usually not respected and are often taken advantage of. I don’t advocate being nasty on purpose, but I do think we should stand up and boldly do the right thing, even if it means ruffling some feathers.
I think everyone these days is culturally trained to be “nice” as opposed to being strong, kind or good. It’s the famous, “go along to get along” syndrome or the “don’t make anyone feel bad” even if they should feel bad about something.
From now on, I am going to see myself as strong, powerful, competent, and also kind. Kind has a more in-control connotation. We make the strong choice to be kind.
When I have something worthwhile to say, I won’t be embarrassed to say it. The next time I feel inclined to “be nice” by always giving in or not making a confident stand about what I know is right, I’m going to say what needs to be said or do what needs to be done with no apologies.
Let’s quit melting into the background and just meekly trying to make sure everybody likes us. Instead, let’s make sure they respect us. For myself, I’ll think about the little girl sticking out her tongue and do whatever I should do with conviction, and when I can, with a confident smile as well.
“When she (a good woman) speaks she has something worthwhile to say, and she always says it kindly.” ~ Proverbs 31:26 (NASB)