October 28, 2015

On being “nice”

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“People who are just nice all the time are boring!” me and my best mate would say when we were teenagers. We’d rather someone was secretly a Werewolf at night or outwardly hated Disney films than be just nice! Have an edge! Be sassy! Be a boss! Being ‘nice’ in our teenage minds was lame. And being ‘nice’ didn’t get you to be the Playground Queen. You weren’t cool if you were nice. Handing out cupcakes in the classroom meant you would never be the cool kid. You’d be the one who would be taken for a ride, and never properly respected because there had been no proof you could stand up for yourself. The nice kids at school were ignored. Being nice didn’t get you very far at an all girls school. You were invisible, but quietly liked.

But in a world of catty comments on Twitter, trolls, bullies, anonymous comments and forums dedicated to slagging people off online, being nice is actually QUITE RARE on the Internet. NICENESS is the precious cornerstone of the web. As an adult, being surrounded by nice people is extremely powerful and valuable. I am drawn to nice people. Nice people have good vibes, and good vibes create great things.

I like to think that I am a nice person (like most people probably do), but I’m not always nice. I am of two extremes: if I love something or someone then I will do anything to support and celebrate and be there for that person or thing. I share things I like far and wide; I don’t shut up about the things I like. But if I don’t like something I cannot keep my mouth shut. I have to pipe up about it. And saying things about something you don’t like, isn’t exactly “nice”. Nice people would just think their negative thoughts privately. I’m sure there are people who aren’t sure if I am nice.

Being NICE seems to be on trend again. And thank god for that. According to Man Repeller who did an interesting piece When Did Nice Become Cool Again they comment on how it must be mainly because today’s celebrities are the ones with the Most Likes. For social influencers it’s a numbers game and so you can’t really be a horrible person and expect to keep an big audience. We have fierce role models who can slam people down in interviews, but you can tell they are the same people who In Real Life are great people. Having off days is also known as being an authentic human being. We all snap at times. People can see straight through you as well if you’re pretending to be nice. It’s so obvs.

For women though, it’s often more up for debate than men, especially in an office environment. There’s always think-pieces flying around about “do you have to be LIKED to being successful?” or “do NICE GIRLS get the glass corner office?” “Can you ever be CEO if you are like Miss Honey from Matilda?” It’s always discussed on business websites and there’s no real answer. For me personally, I work harder for people I like. I always worked harder for the nice teacher at school. 100% of my effort is put in if I feel like I have a good relationship with the person I’m working for.

On typing in “being nice” into Google it came up with a piece from Inc.com who says that being nice “can hurt you”. Because you attract “whiny needy people” and plus if you’re too nice to everyone else then apparently you forget to be nice to yourself. Oh and apparently you start to “resent the people you are nice to”.

I never thought of being nice as a massive chore unless you literally do hate all people. Okay, except on the sticky Central Line at 5.30pm. I admit it: London at times makes me mean.

Being nice has got a bad name. People think you can’t be a leader if you’re nice, or that you’re less honest because you don’t speak your mind. I think every human being has both sides but my god, I hope that being nice is still treated as one of the most important things we have in a world especially when such horrible things are going on around us. Kindness always wins.

I also think being nice makes you look more attractive. I’m firm believer in this. There was a girl at school who on paper was literally a Victoria’s Secret model, but I found her personality so evil she was longer pretty to me. Whenever anyone swooned over pictures of her I couldn’t see it. It was like a magic spell. She’d gone from yellow Minion to scary purple Minion.

Anyway, I’m just chatting out loud here. That’s what this blog is for. I’m half asleep and on a deadline so being eating Hobnobs all day. All of this aside, there is one mantra I will always believe in, above any other clickbait listicle about being a certain way. And that is: WORK HARD AND BE NICE TO PEOPLE.



No Responses

  1. yvonne says:

    HI Emma,
    Being nice is a tricky one. Being nice to me as a woman means: to be a door mat to everyone, go out of your way to make others but yourself happy and have no boundaries. In short, be a “Mugu”(Nigerian slang for a fool)

    I was brought up to be a nice woman and niceness made me resentful of people that I should have built great relationship with. Why did I become resentful? Niceness meant not knowing how or when to say NO when asked for a favour. Niceness means you pretend you are enjoying yourself when you are not. In my opinion, niceness is what has held so many women back.

    Being nice is different from being respectful of others, empathising with others and being kind to others.

    The other day, my daughter and I were looking through a thesaurus for another word for nice, the word “agreeable” was one of the words suggested. Agreeable to me means, opinion-less and having no boundaries.

    Yvonne x

  2. Erin says:

    How interesting.. I was going to write a similar post the other day when I got caught being not so nice but decided against it as I couldn’t find the right words. Like you and most people, I do think I’m nice. But I’m also self-aware enough to realise that I can be really nasty sometimes. I learned my lesson after what happened over the weekend and am going to do my best to be truly nice as much as possible. 🙂

  3. Ruth says:

    I definitely agree that I’m more inclined to work hard for someone who’s nice, going out of my way through respect rather than fear!

    You anecdote about school made me think of the Jack Black film with Gywneth Paltrow as the really fat but nice girl and the other character who he saw as ugly because she was so mean!

  4. Alice says:

    Wonderful piece! Being nice, especially at work, is my goal. I don’t do it to be liked (although if that’s why I am liked, yay) I do it to be respected. Hopefully it works.

  5. Sarah says:

    This is a great piece!
    I’ve always ALWAYS lived by the motto ‘it’s nice to be nice’. I’m the ‘nice’ one in my friendship group, and yeah sometimes that means that I’m not seen as the most fun one, or the outrageous or ‘sassy’ one but I think being nice is just as (possibly more) valuable than those things. People remember kindness and I always remember someone for being nice, moreso than for being ‘cool’.
    Being nice can make someone’s entire day. Being kind and spreading the love can only lead to good things, because niceness only attracts more niceness.
    It’s similar to the issue of it being ‘cool’ to dislike things or hate on things, to pronounce things ‘overrated’ and complain about people enjoying stuff, such as when something trends on Twitter because people are excited and that’s followed by a slew of people complaining about the excitement. I think it’s awesome to like things and to talk about that stuff all the time, it’s great to be a nerd. John Green said it best: “Nerds like us are allowed to be unironically enthusiastic about stuff […] Nerds are allowed to love stuff, like jump-up-and-down-in-the-chair-can’t-control-yourself love it. When people call people nerds, mostly what they’re saying is ‘you like stuff.’ Which is just not a good insult at all. Like, ‘you are too enthusiastic about the miracle of human consciousness’.”
    Being nice and liking stuff is awesome so let your nice flag fly!

    Sarah | Sarah’s Chapter

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