Why being nice is a nightmare.

I haven’t followed my own advice. I promised this update, ‘Why being Nice is a Nightmare’, but for the fear of offending I bottled it and instead gave you top tips for Saying no.

What is that advice? Simply that being nice is not being nice. If you work for or with someone who is very nice then it’s not great. In fact it can be a nightmare.

We are in the area of people pleasers. In my updates on prioritising I have followed the theme that being nice is holding you back from prioritising. Believe me I don’t want to turn you into a Godzilla.

If you have worked with or for someone who has very little understanding that people have emotions and sensibilities, you know how difficult that can be.  Paying some attention to the effect that words and actions can have is a wise path to follow.

Even if you belong to the group who feel that people should leave emotions at home and that any enquiry such as ‘Did you have a nice weekend?’ is a step too far into the socialising pool, be aware that positive social interaction has a positive effect on productivity at work. If for no other reason do it then do it for that.

But if these people are at one end of the scale then we have at the other the trickier type of individual.

These are the people pleasers and the more of a people pleaser you are the more of a nightmare you have the potential to be.

I can highly recommend the working styles test by Julie Hay that is available from Sherwood publishing. You can buy 25 copies of it for a minuscule £9.97. The results of the test will tell you where sit in the working styles and as you have 25 copies then you can give it to all your team and have a team building exercise based around it. You can also get it as a part of my Time Management course. But you only get one copy if you do which may not be as much fun. It’s also more than £9.97. But I digress.

If you are a people pleaser, then you will go out of your way to avoid offending people. This is a laudable value to have in life but the reality means that you find it very difficult to oppose people and so you don’t. You don’t like challenging people and so don’t play the role of questioner and doubter. You don’t like disagreeing and so appear to change your mind depending on who you are talking to. You also don’t like putting upon people and delegating and would rather do it yourself. You are so helpful that you inadvertently give the message that no one else is capable.

Instead of being someone who is a joy you have become a nightmare. A very nice nightmare but a nightmare nonetheless.

The result of someone living in the shadow of a people pleaser is that whilst you might have some great chats about everything outside of work when it comes to work issues they make you feel largely irrelevant. I wrote an update about the worst thing that you can do is ignore someone but you don’t actually have to walk past someone, nose in the air to do it. You can achieve it quite satisfactorily by talking and acknowledging their existence every day but without approaching anything that indicates that someone is worthy of attention.

So, what tells us that we are worthy of someone’s attention?

If someone cares about you and wants you to succeed they will do the following. 

  • They will give you constructive and supportive feedback including pointing out where you are going wrong however difficult the subject area may be.
  • They will challenge your ideas, even if they agree with them, exploring their depth and substance and strengthening yours and their decision-making process.
  • They will support you even if they don’t always agree with your decisions, but if they have explored them through challenging you then they will have a good understanding of them.
  • They will delegate to you giving you the confidence that effective delegation endows and in doing so you will grow and progress in your role.
  • They won’t ‘help’ you unless you actually need it because most of the time you don’t.
  • And when they need to, they will say No. and you won’t mind one little bit.

People pleasers despite their best intentions often produce the exact opposite of the results that they are trying to achieve. They are lovely people. They are a joy to have around and in a team but the reality is that they are a nightmare to work with and for. As an aside they also don’t take feedback very well.  It takes time for their negative style to become apparent but give me a colleague who has traits of Godzilla, who even verges on being an overt nightmare any day because together we are much more likely to succeed.

This then neatly takes me back now to my theme for this week that has been about ‘Saying No’ so that you can prioritise. Don’t be frightened of saying No to people because the alternative is a nightmare.

Bridget Marchi is a learning and development consultant, executive coach and mediator. With over 25 year’s experience in publishing and online fashion she is passionate about working with people to develop strong foundation skills that will support them through their career. Whilst she has extensive experience of delivering classroom style she now offers online learning options with The Time Management ToolBox and Steps to Success, a self-coaching programme for long term success (click the link to get the early bird offer of just £20 – less than half price). She has also published The Management Jigsaw, a management induction course in a book. www.whatdoesamanagerdo.com