Stop Being the Nice Guy

The most common definitions of the word “nice” are agreeable and enjoyable. But the word “kind” is most often defined as loving, caring, generous, benevolent. And that’s exactly how it is for me. I experience people who are nice as very pleasant, well-mannered, and I usually enjoy being in their company. But kindness feels somehow different, like a value that people live out in their life and work.

There are many times when my clients must have a courageous conversation at work, and they worry about not being “nice” or suddenly losing their “nice guy” status with an individual or team. My advice is to stop worrying about whether they will be perceived as being nice and put their focus on being clear and kind. We can’t always say yes to what others want. Sometimes their request or behavior crosses a hard line for us in terms of standards, systems, values, or expectations and we have to say no. But we can always be kind, and we should always strive to create clarity.

When you hold your line on a value, principle, or standard with clarity, non-judgment, and kindness, you gain respect and, most often, compliance. There may be some who will not experience it as all that nice, but you won’t ever be able to control how others experience your decisions. As long as you never sacrifice kindness for clarity, you’ll come out the winner and so will your team. I have found this principle works the same at home and within my own head in the conversations I have with myself. Sometimes, exactly what I need is a swift kick in the butt that isn’t all that nice, but I try to remember to always be kind to myself and my humanness.

I’d much rather be known as the kind, clear guy than the wishy-washy nice guy any day. This week, put your focus on clarity and kindness and let the rest of the world say what they will about whether you’re nice or not.

There is nothing so kingly as kindness and nothing so royal as truth.
~ Alice Cary

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