“Can you do this for Monday?” Asks my colleague in a hopeful tone. At that instant my mind starts going into overdrive. I know I have ten things on that day, each with their own rigid deadlines. I also have to think about whether anyone else can take some of my workload — but what if they’re stacked? They’re probably stacked, I’ll leave them alone. If I say no then I’ll have to do it Tuesday, which means that the guys doing the subbing will have less time to do it. If I do that then they’ll have too much on. I guess I add another thing to my Monday to-do list.
“Sure,” I reply. “No problem.”
This is a common scenario for me. I’m burdened with an overabundance of empathy, so much so that it can be crippling at times. I don’t say this to toot my own horn — but I’m a nice guy.
Being nice has its perks. I’m generally well-liked and make friends easily. I find that people easily confide in me and they can find some relative comfort in speaking to me about the issues they are having. I get invited to all the parties and people know they can count on me to do a job with minimal fuss.
I wish I wasn’t so nice.
For one, being nice leads me to avoid confrontation where possible. As a manager in my job I do have to deal with confronting people about something, but I’m generally soft about it and quick to offer the benefit of the doubt. However, I’m beginning to feel that this attitude is counter-productive.
Debate can be incredibly healthy and, honestly, I love debates. But when it comes down to me tossing out my two pence about a subject, I feel that I have to deliver it with the force of a sponge hammer. The problem is that without debate and confrontation, how do things change? I have very firm beliefs and principles, but I’m so worried about hurting someone’s feelings that I rarely make myself heard.
Being nice won’t change the world.
The trouble is, I’ve learned, that I worry too much about what people think of me. I’m terrified of someone just not liking me. It makes no sense, but I feel the constant need to get on with everyone. This isn’t always a bad thing, but I can sometimes sacrifice my own well-being because of it. I become the default loser of the game and I automatically give first place to the other person.
If I want to change the world, then I have to stop worrying about being nice and start worrying about being right. This doesn’t mean I’m going to start being a dick to people, but I need to realise that being nice the majority of the time is only going to hold back me and the people I care about.
Is it wrong to be a nice person? No, but is it productive? I’m not so sure.