4 Reasons to Stop Being “Nice” at Work

Stop worrying about being so nice at work. Focus instead on being honest and direct — delivered with kindness.

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Are we morally obligated to always tell the truth? What about telling a small fib with good intentions? White lies are one of those things that give deep thinkers fits. Soften or obscure the truth to avoid hurting somebody — it frequently happens at home and at work. And it is a problem. Because this ends up doing more harm than good.

For example, when you cover for a colleague’s shortcomings in order to spare their feelings. Good intentions perhaps, but you do nobody any favors.

Stop worrying about being so nice at work. Focus instead on being honest and direct — delivered with kindness.

Kindness has real benefits in any professional setting. This is not just a theory. I have seen it work in practice with The Responsive Method (TRM), our human-centric philosophy for personal and business success.

Being kind allows you to stay in control and maintain perspective. Being nice is just the opposite.

Being nice means you can fake your way through your interactions with teammates. This facade denies the reality of the situation, making it impossible to have important and honest conversations. When you care enough to tell the truth and show kindness when doing so — even when it is uncomfortable — you will find opportunities for real growth.

So, are you being nice? You might not realize at first how these behaviors play out in the workplace. Take a critical look at your interactions and tendencies.

Here are four ways that being too nice negatively impacts your career and the team:

Do you find yourself stepping in to fix the team’s mistakes? This can seem like the easier path. The tougher yet more productive route is to share how they can improve. Be concrete with numbers, examples, and next steps so that they can get it right the next time — so you will not be tempted to cover for them.

The instinct to withhold hurtful or awkward information from somebody you work with is understandable. But there are times when you need to share bad news. You can do so with compassion, remaining calm and in control. That way, you get your message across without sugar-coating it. In doing so, you are helping to create a happy and fulfilling workplace for everyone.

This might take the form of skewing the truth or a form of self-delusion — convincing yourself that factors beyond the team’s control were to blame. Analyze the situation the best you can and share the takeaways with co-workers, even if it means acknowledging a miss. Then you can come together and move forward to a better outcome in the future.

You might think it is noble and self-sacrificing to accept full responsibility for a team member’s failings. Especially if you are a leader — after all, the buck stops with you. But if you do, you are not giving people an opportunity to learn. The experience may hurt and that is normal. Research shows that getting emotional after a failure helps us improve the next time we face a similar task.

The big problem with being nice is that you deny the team opportunities to grow.

Approach issues with honesty and kindness. These constructive conversations will help you build strong relationships. People may not think of you as “nice,” but they will think of you as a trusted colleague and leader.

How do you practice kindness at work?

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