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Typically, we are encouraged to remain nice and polite to all those we come in contact with regardless if the sentiment and feelings are shared by those we come in contact with. We have all had the unfortunate and unpleasant experience of having to deal with someone mean, destructive, or aggressive but what about those that are too nice. Is it possible to be equally annoyed or distressed by those that are too nice? Being too nice, too accommodating, too agreeable, etc., can create problems with getting our needs met vocationally, socially, and romantically.

Unfortunately, living in a pessimistic almost encourages us to be distrustful of anyone and everyone we deemed to be “too nice”, as the question begs, what is his or her end game? Refuting the possibility that someone could be truly nice without an ulterior motive. There is often a held, typically unspoken belief that no one’s intentions are entirely pure, without self-fulfilling properties. It is not uncommon to weigh someone’s intentions against our own, i.e., “I wouldn’t do that for anyone, or put myself out there, so why would someone do that for me”, in an attempt to discount someone else’s intentions and motives.

Here are some ways in which being too nice can be damaging:

  • Failure to assert ones needs at work, or the perception that one cannot manage a supervisory role. Failure to assert needs at work can lead to his/her boss thinking they are able to effectively deliver directives or engage in corrective action against those they are entrusted to supervise.
  • Limit one’s ability to progress in their careers.
  • Friendships may be one-sided, i.e., helping out a friend in need or distress while friends tend to be unavailable or unable to aid or support you during a trying or challenging time.
  • Those in romantic relationships that are too nice often find themselves “carrying a relationship”, i.e., “if I don’t call I won’t hear from him or her”, or having to make plans or arrangements (often at their own inconvenience) in order to spend time with their partner or they probably would not be able to see each other.
  • Being too agreeable and too accommodating can also become damaging if it causes personal distress or inconvenience to those engaging in the behaviors, as they may not want to or realistically can fulfill the request but do so as a personal sacrifice.
  • You are agreeing or accommodating the other person in an attempt to avoid conflict. Conflict in and of itself is not a bad thing, conflict can often be a good thing. Allowing some conflict to occur can resolve spoken as well as unspoken disagreements. Healthy conflict allows parties to voice their concerns, getting the thoughts and feelings heard.

We can all agree having to deal with a confrontational and combative person can be difficult and stressful. However, failing to assert and address our own personal needs can be just as damaging or even more so. Everyone deserves to be treated with respect and dignity. Thus, if being too nice or too accommodating causes personal distress or sacrifices that may be harmful or distressing it should be foregone in order to ensure and maintain our own emotional health and well-being.

Contributing Author: Terri Allen, Director of Nursing Services.