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Can You Be Too Nice At Work?

Can You Be Too Nice At Work?

Linda Griffin | Excelle

I just read a review of the management book Nice Guys Can Get the Corner Office: Eight Strategies for Winning in Business Without Being a Jerk. The premise is that our desire to be nice and please others hinders our ability to achieve success in the business world. Their research showed that 61% of people surveyed said that they struggle with being too nice at work, and that they feel it has a negative impact on their success.

The authors don’t limit this “nice-guy syndrome” to men. They say that women suffer from it as well and the reaction to men and women is different. If a man tends to be overly nice and behaves in ways that are considered too agreeable, passive, and highly compassionate, he may be considered “soft”.

For women, that nurturing behavior likely wouldn’t raise an eyebrow. Their answer to overcome the syndrome was to develop eight strategies which they term the Nice Guy Bill of Rights. Three of the strategies in the Bill of Rights admonish us to Speak up, Confront and Be Bold.

A study by the University of Sheffield in England researched personality and career success and found that white-collar workers who were the most agreeable, conscientious and sensitive to the needs of others were less likely to be promoted.

I have a different view point on this issue. When I hear that I should stop being nice, it raises the hair on the back of my neck. I equate being nice with being courteous and pleasant to deal with. I believe we need to see more of that and not less in the workplace.

But there are times when ‘niceness’ is really a camouflage for our fears. When we accept a low-profile task no one else wants, do an activity that doesn’t enhance our careers or compromise our own interests to make others happy we are giving in to hidden fears.

It may be fear of being judged by others and found lacking. It may be fear of failing if you take a risk. While the Nice-Guy Bill of Rights tells us to confront others, I say we should look inside ourselves and confront our fears. When we do that we will be able to speak up and be bold.

If a woman is too agreeable, passive, and highly compassionate it may not raise eyebrows as the authors suggest, but it won’t her get her promoted either. There is no room in the workplace for rude or unprofessional behavior but we should be careful that our overly-nice behavior isn’t holding us back.

  • Greceaaaa2_max50


    over 2 years ago


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  • Photo_user_blank_big


    about 5 years ago


    I think too many women confuse "rude" with "setting boundaries". There is nothing wrong whatsoever with setting boundaries in the workplace. I have seen far too often that women in my office will take whatever task is thrown at them in an effort to avoid being cast as "not a team player", then struggle to get everything done - and end up producing very poor quality as a result. There is nothing wrong with saying "When do you need this by...". If they won't give you a time frame say "I can deliver this to you by ____, will that work?" If they need it earlier, be honest... "I have a report due for Joe that I am working on right now. Let me talk to Joe and see if his deadline is flexible." This shows that you are willing to assist, but that you honor your commitments. It is a huge mistake - in my experience - to allow others to control your time.

  • Alim1005_max50


    over 5 years ago


    Well,i think it's a good thing to be nice at work but i have learned that no matter how much you are nice to people and you care bout them,some people are just impossible to please. So i always tell people at work,you dont have to like me to work with me,just get the job done and lets go our separate ways.

  • Turtle_max50


    over 5 years ago


    In a few cases, being nice can mean that co-workers take advantage of you, and after awhile can walk all over you, leaving you doing the majority of the work, and the team getting the credit.

  • Belkis_ar02_max50


    over 5 years ago


    I know people who are just way too nice. I can't deal with that because I feel those people won't stand up for what they believe. It's basically the same if you are extremely rude. You need to have a balance of both.

  • Memories__19__max50


    over 5 years ago


    I have seen personally that being overly nice can cause one to think of you as weak and flakey. Being a nice person myself I have often times had to become stricter inorder to be respected among others.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 5 years ago


    I was raised to be nice and courteous to others. In the world of work you meet all types, and I have learned to match discourtesy with discourtesy. My biggest problem is the guilt I feel after I have been discourteous to someone who deserves that behaviour. Even though I know I am right to stand up for myself and be assertive, my mother's training leave me feeling guilty.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    about 6 years ago


    I believe, being too nice sometimes make other people think you are weak. But there are time when you don't say anything that you can learn more by just watching people reaction. Then when everything calms down you have notice things that no one else had notice and now the other people are wonder why you are smiling. Being nice it not taking the easy way out, it is the smart way.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    about 6 years ago


    I believe, being too agreeable has both sides... some people mite never consider to walk up to you for talks or otherwise it may also inspire many numbers to talk to you. People mite take you for granted as well! Being thoughtfully and reasonably agreeable is wise.

  • 781894_13_ttiny_max50


    about 6 years ago


    Hi Insanitek - I don't know the details but I'm wondering if you had any discussion with your boss before saying no? I'm sure you had valid reasons for refusing the assignment, but you also mention being rude which sometimes makes the other person unwilling to back down, especially if they are the boss.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    about 6 years ago


    i find myself in an industry where you are expected to be less than truthful at times. this kills me. at my last job in the field i was told to perform services on a car that i knew did not need it. i voiced my opinion and was told to just do what i was told. i love working on cars but i dont know if i can tell people they need work done when i know they dont! i found through school that when i spoke to customers about what they did need, they where compliant in getting it done. i found that i could bring in more work for the shop by just being honest! being nice helps too! as for the men i have had to work with this field is sooo different, you have to give them the attitude they give you or you get no where!

  • Scanpic_max50


    about 6 years ago


    I was driving down the highway one morning stuck in rush hour traffic and found myself staring at a bumper sticker plastered on the back of the car in front of me -- it said "Nice People Bite". Now, I don't really know what the intent of that sticker really was -- but it made me laugh out loud. I've noticed that people in general tend to misunderstand what "nice" actually involves. Some folks view a nice person as weak -- someone you can walk all over. As a "nice" person, I know I choose with full awareness and deliberation to be -- as consciously fairminded, truthful, courageous, and generous as I can manage. I believe it takes more fortitude, strength of character and wisdom to be "nice" and if you lie, steal, trick or manipulate, in my mind you've taken the easy way out. So it's funny to me when someone thinks because I'm nice, I'm a pushover. You do not want to cross a "nice" person, they are full of integrity and courage and strength -- they will do the right thing, always. Now -- being afraid to confront is a different issue. And I think women especially have obstacles that might prevent them from feeling free to confront an issue or individual in the workplace. What I've learned is that you must find the fortitude to confront a thing the moment it happens or the individual responsible for causing the issue walks away feeling like you've given them permission to behave in that manner moving forward; something we never want. Nice in the workplace has many benefits -- people will move mountains on your behalf when they know with certainty that you are a "stand-up" guy.

  • S010_bella_sol_max50


    about 6 years ago


    I find that I'm right in the middle of being too nice and too rude. It still gets me no where. I got fired for not being compliant enough. The boss wanted me to do stuff that would damage my grades and schooling. Not good. I said no, I was not allowed to come back the next week.

  • Red-apple_max50


    about 6 years ago


    I agree that being rude or overly good is not an option

  • Jane_max50


    about 6 years ago


    I wonder whether people who accept the low profile tasks that others won't are surprised when their willingness to help out isn't rewarded at promotion time.

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