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Being Nice vs. Kind

In today’s column, I will discuss how being a people-pleaser can have detrimental effects to your well-being, and how to find a proper balance between being too nice and still demonstrating self-respect. According to reputable author and psychiatrist Dr. Sirota, being too nice is defined as a pattern of behaviour where you consistently put others first, and where you feel like you can’t say no to others’ requests. If you are too nice, you generally feel the need to help, rescue or care for those around you, whether in your personal or professional life.

In hopes of avoiding rejection or receiving negative feedback, the compulsive people-pleaser will choose to agree instead of assert themselves. They will, in other words, sacrifice their wants in exchange for validation. This same person may appease those around them in hopes of avoiding conflict or confrontation. The fear of losing the approval of others, and therefore threatening their self-esteem, is all-consuming.

These people-pleasing behaviours are often recognized by colleagues, friends and family, and may unfortunately lead them to take advantage of this nice person. This may lead the nice person to feel frustrated and unsatisfied by their daily interactions, which may inadvertently create feelings of increased stress, exhaustion and resentment towards those around them.

In hopes of finding a better balance, one which prioritizes your well-being, Dr. Sirota suggests that you be kind instead of nice. This entails behaving in a way that demonstrates love and appreciation for those around you, all the while maintaining a sense of self-confidence and self-respect. In other words, you carry yourself in a way that shows that you care, without neglecting your own needs and feelings.

What does this look like exactly? It requires you to set up boundaries, to stand up for what you believe in and advocate for yourself, and to walk away from those who intentionally hurt you. Being kind helps foster overall feelings of success, mutual respect and boosts mood and morale.

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