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10 Things Nice People Do Differently That Make Them Achieve More

10 Things Nice People Do Differently That Make Them Achieve More

We think that in order to get ahead in life, we need to “look out for ourselves,” even be selfish and mean. But is that really true? Could it be that nice people actually get more? Well, yes, they do, and it’s scientifically proven. Here’s how nice people achieve more.

1. They help without expecting something in return.

Adam Grant in Give and Take, a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller, makes this crystal clear. According to his research, people who give unconditionally—the givers—are the ones who achieve the most. Right after them, rank the people who “look out for themselves” and might even be mean or selfish. These are the “takers.”

Yes, takers come second.

2. They listen.

Marie Forleo, a “Rich, Happy, and Hot” internet entrepreneur, often says that the greatest gift we can ever give to others is our presence.

As she discussed on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday, when someone’s talking to you but you’re texting or just thinking about other things, the message you’re sending is that the other person is not worthy of your attention.

The solution? Say “I’m back!” And just like that, your focus will be back to reality. Every color is now more vivid because you’re actually noticing it! Now, you can be there for the other person, and actually help them. Watch Marie explain this technique in her own words:

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Truly nice people are people others can rely upon. And, yes, because of their generosity, they receive 10x their input back in return.

3. They are unexpectedly nice.

Nice people are not just nice in situations when most people are nice—they are nice even in situations where “niceness” is not expected. They’ll listen and you’ll feel heard. They’ll surprise you with their help and ideas.

I felt like that when I met best-selling author Tim Ferriss in person. Even though he was surrounded by tons of people, when he talked to me, I felt as if I was the only person in the room.

And here I am now talking about it. And there are thousands of people just like me praising him. Does Tim get things in return from all this word of mouth? You bet he does.

4. Their generous reputation precedes them.

Truly nice people are known for being nice. For example, even before I met consultant Michael Fishman in his BehaviorCon conference last August (hacking behavior along with best-selling author Ramit Sethi), I knew he was nice. Facebook and Twitter make the world so connected that news just spreads.

Indeed after we met he surprised me by saying “gratitude” for every little thing I did. Then he unexpectedly offered to help me with my book.

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And yes, here I am talking publicly about it. Because you can hardly forget when someone takes care of you.

5. They make others feel good.

When you feel heard, you feel good. When you get help, you feel good. And you just can’t help but like the other person who helped you.

Then, reciprocity kicks in: one of Cialdini’s Principles of Influence. When you get something, you feel like you need to give back in return. You can’t help but do something nice for the person who helped you. And that’s how nice people get even more back in return.

6. They know the difference between being a doormat vs. being a generous giver.

Nice people are not doormats. After all, no one respects doormats. People take advantage of doormats. Few people genuinely help doormats.

Nice people know the boundaries between being generous and being taken advantage of. They do their best to be there for others, but they don’t let them cross the line.

Interestingly, in Give and Take I learned that doormats actually are at the bottom of the achievement scale. So nice people rank first, takers come second, and down at the bottom are the doormats.

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7. They are not just nice with others but they’re nice with themselves too.

So many people are nice with others, only to be extremely self-critical with themselves. They think they’re being honest. They might even complain about “sabotaging” themselves, yet since they are being “honest” they have a good excuse for doing so.

But the truth is that they are using double standards. When they talk negatively to themselves, they are only demotivating themselves from going forward. It’s one thing to say, “I’m so fat, I’ll never lose weight,” and another to say, “My past choices have made me fat, but my new ones will lead me to a better place.” If you want to be a truly nice person, you need to be nice with everyone, including yourself.

8. They don’t make excuses for not doing what they say they want to do.

Since nice people talk nicely to themselves, they are actually encouraging themselves to do the things they want to do. So, say they want to exercise. They won’t come up with excuses about why they can’t do it. Instead, they’ll encourage themselves to figure it out. They might try yoga, take longer walks, or exercise at home for just five minutes.

The result is that they feel empowered. They trust that they can do what it is they want to do. Nothing can stand in their way. And maybe that’s why people who exercise actually make 9% more than everyone else.

So, if you want to write a book, learn cooking, or de-clutter your home, what are you waiting for?

9. They see failure as a stepping stone to success.

When others get demotivated because things didn’t go their way, nice people are already looking for “the next cow.” Nice people know that “No” is a first step to “Yes,” and that failure is a stepping-stone to success. It’s not that they celebrate failure, but they don’t make a big deal about it either.

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And that’s how when others quit, nice people persevere. When others think everything is dark, nice people are confident they’ll hit their goals.

10. They have the power to influence others.

Best-selling author Gary Vaynerchuck once said he devoted a few minutes while he was driving to talking on the phone with people. Now Gary has thousands of followers. This behavior is not scalable to every single follower. Yet, he does anything he can do to help. Even taking advantage of his driving time.

And people appreciate it. They know that Gary is extremely busy, yet he gives them one-on-one time. They are deeply grateful for that, and yes, they convert into lifetime Gary fans.

When Gary releases a new book, or goes on a new venture, guess who is going to champion him? The hundreds or thousands of people who have already benefited by him. Gary is unexpectedly nice, and these fans will support Gary by default, even before reviewing his work.

That’s how influential nice people can be.

More by this author

Maria Brilaki

Maria helps people create habits that stick not just for a month or two but for years and decades.

How to Think Happy Thoughts and Train Your Brain to Be Happy 8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More 10 Things Nice People Do Differently That Make Them Achieve More If You Hate Exercise, This Will Probably Change Your Mind 10 Thinking Mistakes You’re Probably Making

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Last Updated on July 8, 2020

How to Say No When You Say Yes Too Often

How to Say No When You Say Yes Too Often

Do you say yes so often that you realize you aren’t really happy about this, wondering how to say no to people?

For years, I was a serial people pleaser. Known as someone who would step up, I would gladly make time especially when it came to volunteering for certain causes. I proudly carried this role all through grade school, college, even through law school. For years, I thought saying “no” meant I would disappoint a good friend or someone I respected.

But somewhere along the way, I noticed I wasn’t quite living my life. Instead, I seem to have created a schedule that was a strange combination of meeting the expectations of others, what I thought I should be doing, and some of what I actually wanted to do. The result? I had a packed schedule that left me overwhelmed and unfulfilled.

It took a long while but I learned the art of saying no. Saying ‘no’ meant I no longer catered fully to everyone else’s needs and could make more room for what I really wanted to do. Instead of cramming too much in, I chose to pursue what really mattered. I started to manage my time more around my own needs and interests. When that happened, I became a lot happier. And guess what? I hardly disappointed anyone.

The Importance of Saying No

When you learn the art of saying ‘no,’ you begin to look at the world differently. Rather than seeing all of the things you could or should be doing (and aren’t doing), you start to look at how to say yes to what’s important.

In other words, you aren’t just reacting to what life throws at you. You seek the opportunities that move you to where you want to be.

Successful people aren’t afraid to say no. Oprah Winfrey considered one of the most successful women in the world confessed that it was much later in life when she learned how to say no. Even after she had become internationally famous, she felt she had to say yes to virtually everything. It was only when she realized that after years of struggling with saying no, I finally got to this question: “What do I want?”

Being able to say no also helps you manage your time better.

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Warren Buffett views no as essential to his success. He said,

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

When I made ‘no’ a part of my toolbox, I drove more of my own success focusing on fewer things and doing them well.

How We Are Pressured to Say Yes

It’s no wonder a lot of us find it hard to say ‘no.’

From an early age, we are conditioned to say ‘yes.’ We said yes probably hundreds of time in order to graduate from high school and then get into college. We said yes to find work. We said yes get a promotion. We said yes to find love and then yes again to stay in a relationship. We said yes to find and keep friends.

We say yes because it feels better to help someone. We say yes because it can seem like the right thing to do. We say yes because we think that is key to success. And we say yes because the request might come from someone who is hard to resist like the boss.

And that’s not all. The pressure to say yes doesn’t just come from others. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves. At work, we say yes because we compare ourselves to others who seem to be doing more than we are. Outside of work, we say yes because we feel guilty we aren’t doing enough to spend time with family or friends.

The message no matter where we turn is nearly always, “You really could be doing more.” The result? When people ask us for our time, we are heavily conditioned to say yes.

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How to Say No Without Feeling Guilty

Deciding to add the word ‘no’ to your toolbox is no small thing. Perhaps you already say ‘no’ but not as much as you would like. Maybe you have an instinct that if you were to learn the art of ‘no’ that you could finally create more time for things you care about. But let’s be honest, using the word ‘no’ doesn’t come easily for many people.

The 3 Rules of Thumbs for Saying No

1. You Need to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Let’s face it. It is hard to say no. Setting boundaries around your time especially you haven’t done it much in the past will feel awkward.

2. You Are the Air Traffic Controller of Your Time

Remember that you are the only one who understands the demands for your time. Think about it, who else knows about all of the demands on your time? No one. Only you are at the center of all of these requests. are the only one that understands what time you really have.

3. Saying ‘No’ Means Saying ‘Yes’ to Something That Matters

When we decide not to do something, it means we can say yes to something else. You have a unique opportunity to decide how you spend your precious time.

6 Ways to Start Saying No

Incorporating that little word ‘no’ into your life can be transformational. Turning some things down will mean you can open doors to what really matters. Here are some essential tips to learn the art of no:

1. Check in With Your Obligation Meter

One of the biggest challenges to saying ‘no’ is a feeling of obligation. Do you feel you have a responsibility to say yes and worry that saying no reflect poorly on you?

Ask yourself whether you truly have the duty to say yes. Check your assumptions or beliefs about whether you carry the responsibility to say yes. Turn it around and instead ask what duty you owe to yourself.

2. Resist the Fear of Missing out (FOMO)

Do you have a fear of missing out (FOMO)? FOMO can follow us around in so many ways. At work, we volunteer our time because we fear we won’t move ahead. In our personal lives, we agree to join the crowd because FOMO even while we ourselves aren’t enjoying the fun.

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Check in with yourself. Are you saying yes because of FOMO or because you really want to say yes? More often than not, running after fear doesn’t make us feel better.

3. Check Your Assumptions About What It Means to Say ‘No’

Do you dread the reaction you will get if you say no? Often, we say ‘yes’ because we worry about how others will respond or the consequences of saying no or because of the consequences. We may be afraid to disappoint others or think we will lose respect from others. We often forget how much we are disappointing ourselves along the way.

Keep in mind that saying ‘no’ can be exactly what is needed to send the right message that you have limited time. In the tips below, you will see how to communicate your no in a gentle and loving way. You might disappoint someone initially but drawing a boundary can bring you the freedom you need so that you can give freely of yourself when you truly want to.

4. When the Request Comes In, Sit on It

Sometimes, when we are in the moment, we instinctively agree. The request might make sense at first. Or we typically have said yes to this request in the past.

Give yourself a little time to reflect on whether you really have the time, or can do the task properly. You may decide the best option is to say ‘no.’ There is no harm in giving yourself the time to decide.

5. Communicate Your ‘No’ with Transparency and Kindness

When you are ready to tell someone no, communicate your decision clearly. The message can be open and honest to ensure the recipient that your reasons have to do with your limited time.

Resist the temptation not to respond or communicate all. But do not feel obligated to provide a lengthy account about why you are saying no.

A clear communication with a short explanation is all that is needed. I have found it useful to tell people that I have many demands and need to be careful with how I allocate my time. I will sometimes say I really appreciate that they came to me and for them to check in again if the opportunity arises another time.

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6. Consider How to Use a Modified ‘No’

If you are under pressure to say yes but want to say no, you may want to consider downgrading a “yes” to a “yes but…” giving you an opportunity to condition your agreement to what works best for you.

Sometimes, the condition can be to do the task but not in the time frame that was originally requested. Or perhaps you can do part of what has been asked.

Final Thoughts

Beginning right now, you can change how you respond to requests for your time. When the request comes in, take yourself off autopilot where you might normally say yes.

Use the request as a fresh request to draw a healthy boundary around your time. Pay particular attention to when you place certain demands on yourself. If you are the one placing the demand on yourself, try to evaluate the demand as if it were coming from somewhere else.

Try it now. Say no to a friend who continues to take advantage of your goodwill. Or, draw the line with a workaholic colleague and tell them you will complete the project but not by working all weekend. Or, tell someone in your family you can’t loan them money again because they never paid you back the last time. You’ll find yourself much happier.

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Featured photo credit: Chris Ainsworth via unsplash.com

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