9 bad things that happen when you’re always “nice” to others

Tina Fey by Tina Fey | April 22, 2024, 10:58 pm

Yes, there’s such thing as being too nice.

Being nice is a virtue, no doubt. But being “nice” 24/7 often means bending over backwards for others, suppressing your own needs, and even allowing others to take advantage of you.

As it turns out, there are some pretty negative consequences when you’re always “nice” to others.

In this article, I’ll take you through 9 bad things that can happen when your kindness becomes a double-edged sword. It’s not about advocating for rudeness, but about finding the right balance between kindness and self-respect.

1) People often take advantage of you

Let’s face it.

When you’re always “nice”, people can start to take your kindness for granted.

It’s human nature to push boundaries, especially when they seem flexible. If you’re always agreeing, always accommodating, people may start to see you as someone who can be walked over.

It’s not that they’re bad people, necessarily. It’s just that your constant niceness can create an imbalance in relationships which can lead to you being taken advantage of.

This isn’t to say you should stop being nice. Rather, it’s about learning when to say ‘no’ and understanding that it’s okay to put your needs first sometimes.

2) You can lose your personal identity

This one hits close to home.

Back in college, I was the quintessential ‘nice’ guy. Always eager to please, always putting others before myself. It was as if I thought my value came from being agreeable.

But over time, I started to realize that I was losing myself in the process. My opinions, my preferences, my desires – they all took a backseat to those of others. I was so focused on being nice that I forgot about being me.

I found myself agreeing to things I didn’t want to do, or holding back my true thoughts for fear of causing upset. My identity seemed to fade into the background as I morphed into what everyone else wanted me to be.

It was a wake-up call. Being nice is important, but not at the cost of losing who you are. It’s crucial to maintain your individuality and stand up for your own beliefs and values, even if they might not always align with those of others.

3) It can lead to stress and burnout

People-pleasing tendencies and burnout go hand in hand. Why?

“When you are constantly putting other people’s needs before your own, it becomes that much harder to focus on your work and advance in your career,” Harvard-trained clinical psychologist Debbie Sorensen explained. 

Also, when you’re always prioritizing other people’s needs, it can take a toll on your mental health. You may start to feel overwhelmed, stressed, and even experience burnout.

Keep in mind that self-care doesn’t make you any less nice. It’s critical for your own well-being. Just as you care for others, you also need to take time for yourself to recharge and relax.

4) It can lead to resentment

Nobody likes feeling used or taken for granted.

When you’re always the “nice” one, it’s easy to fall into the trap of feeling like you’re doing all the giving while others are doing all the taking.

Over time, this can lead to feelings of resentment. You might start to feel frustrated and angry, not just towards those who you feel are taking advantage of your kindness, but also towards yourself for allowing it to happen.

It’s okay to establish boundaries. It’s okay to say no when you need to. Being nice doesn’t mean you have to let people walk all over you – it’s about treating others with kindness while also treating yourself with respect.

5) You risk being perceived as weak

This is a harsh reality.

When you’re always “nice” and accommodating, some people may not see you as kind and considerate. Instead, they might perceive you as weak or lacking assertiveness.

It’s an unfortunate misconception that niceness equates to weakness. But the truth is, it takes strength to be kind, especially when faced with adversity.

However, if your niceness means you never stand up for yourself or assert your needs and wants, others might misconstrue this as a lack of backbone.

Assertiveness and kindness are not mutually exclusive. It’s perfectly possible – and indeed desirable – to be both kind and assertive. You can maintain your kindness while also standing up for yourself and being clear about what you need and want.

6) You may struggle with self-esteem

The truth is: not everyone who’s nice is really grounded and confident in who they are

When you’re always bending over backwards to please others, it can start to impact how you see yourself. You might start to feel like your worth is tied to how much you can do for others, rather than who you are as a person.

This can lead to a serious blow to your self-esteem. You might start questioning your value, wondering if you’re only appreciated for what you do rather than who you are.

At the end of the day, your worth is not defined by how much you do for others.

You are valuable just as you are. It’s important to maintain a healthy sense of self-esteem and remember that you don’t need to constantly please others to be worthy of respect and love.

7) It can affect your relationships

I’ve found this to be true in my own life.

In my eagerness to always be the nice guy, I often found myself agreeing with my friends and family even when I didn’t actually share their views. This led to a lack of genuine connection and authenticity in my relationships. I was so busy trying to be agreeable that I wasn’t being honest.

Over time, this can create a disconnect between you and the people you care about.

Relationships thrive on honesty, respect, and understanding. By always agreeing or withholding your true feelings, you’re limiting the depth of your relationships.

8) It can hinder your personal growth

There’s something to be said about the learning experience that comes from standing up for yourself.

When you’re always “nice”, you may avoid conflict and therefore miss out on opportunities for personal growth. Conflict, while uncomfortable, can be incredibly enlightening. It gives us a chance to understand different perspectives, navigate challenging situations, and develop resilience.

However, if you’re always avoiding conflict by being excessively nice, you may be hindering your own growth.

Learning to manage conflict and stand up for what you believe in are crucial life skills that contribute to both personal and professional development.

I can’t stress this truth enough: it’s okay to disagree and stand up for what you believe in. Being nice doesn’t mean avoiding conflict at all costs, but rather navigating it in a respectful and constructive manner.

9) You might forget to be nice to yourself

This is perhaps the most important point of all.

We often prioritize treating others how we want to be treated, inadvertently neglecting to extend the same kindness to ourselves.

It’s easy to neglect your own needs and desires when you’re busy catering to everyone else’s. But doing so can lead to feelings of emptiness and dissatisfaction.

By being kind to yourself, you’re replenishing your emotional strength and developing resilience, which allows you to assist more people later on.

Final thoughts: It’s about balance

Being “nice” is a quality to be admired. But like all good things, it’s possible to have too much of a good thing.

When niceness becomes excessive, when it starts to eclipse our own needs and desires, it can do more harm than good.

In the end, it all comes down to balance. The balance between giving and receiving, between selflessness and self-care, between being nice to others and being nice to ourselves.

As you navigate the complex landscape of human interaction, keep this balance in mind. Be nice, but not at the expense of your own well-being.  

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