Let’s discuss three reasons why being nice at work might not be a good idea and what to do instead.
Risk #1: You'll Appear Inauthentic
Nice isn’t Kind! Being nice is not the same as being kind. When people are nice to one another there tends to be a veneer. The actions that encapsulate niceness are performative. Exchanging polite conversation, friendly pleasantries, nice social interactions, it’s all a performance. It’s for show. And if the boat were to be rocked and conflict to arise, then gone are those niceties and pleasantries. Because nice isn’t kind. So instead, as a leader or manager who is directly responsible for setting workplace tone and establishing culture, focus on breeding kindness.
Risk #2: You'll Seem Like A Pushover
Avoid groupthink. People who are nice are generally people who seek to be liked. They seek external validation and want to be thought well of. Nice people place a lot of emphasis on other people’s opinions. They also want to be part of the “in-crowd” and blend right in. Why’s this an issue? Well, when it comes time to important decision-making and the team needs to vote on the best viable solution there could be issues with groupthink. Nice people don’t often want to voice their opinion if it’s a dissenting one. This is part and parcel why groupthink occurs in these kinds of situations.
Risk #3: You'll Position Yourself as Prey
Not sure if you’ve come across this in your own experience, but people who are too nice often end up positioning themselves as prey. They get stepped on more often than people who are genuinely kind. If someone is preoccupied with pleasing people and cultivating the good graces of others regardless of the cost, ultimately they’re establishing themselves as prey. If someone is overly nice, they’re taken advantage of. Nice people might not stand up to someone, they might not speak their mind or prevent bad decisions from being made. When someone doesn’t stand up for themselves because they don’t want to offend the other person involved, they’re signaling that they’re prey.
So instead of focusing on nice, choose kindness. Kind people can stand up for themselves in a polite and respectful way of course, but they stand their ground. Kind people don’t search for social approval and they’re not particularly interested in other people's opinions of them. And above all, kind people are authentic. And we know that if we show up as our true selves then we’ll have better social interactions at work and better business outcomes.
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