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5 Traits That Make You Nice But Unsuccessful

5 Traits That Make You Nice But Unsuccessful

As we navigate daily life, it is innate to want others to like us. In order to achieve this goal, some people decide to become overly nice and attempt to please everyone they meet. Even in pop culture, many are more drawn towards movie heroes or novel protagonists who display benevolent and kind characteristics. Allow me to preface the article by stating that there is nothing wrong with being kind-hearted and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

However, there needs to be a balance of not being overly nice at your own personal expense. Instead of succeeding with your goals and getting ahead, being overly kind allows others to treat you like a doormat. There are a few traits that need to be identified and remedied to allow you to identify when you are being overly nice at your own expense.

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1. You find yourself compromising too much and don’t speak up.

In your group of friends or coworkers, do you find your voice often getting lost in the sea of voices? Are there ever times where you hide your true views or opinions because you know it will be the minority opinion?  When you censor your thoughts, you are cheating both yourself and others around you. You are being inauthentic in your social and professional circles.

If you are always seen as someone who agrees with everyone else or rarely speaks up, you are likely to be seen as someone who isn’t contributing to a group’s goals. According to Forbes, individuals who share their ideas more are seen as people who can spark discussion and group-think. In addition, you command more respect from colleagues for having the courage to voice opinion even if it’s not the most popular.

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2. You attempt to make sure everyone around you is happy.

At first this trait seems to paint a wonderful picture demonstrating your benevolent nature. Everyone should like the person who goes around making sure everyone in the group is happy. However, some may fall into the trap of obsessing over everyone’s satisfaction and perception. The fact is in both your business and social lives, you will learn that not everyone is going to be happy with your choices.

You will become known as a simple people-pleaser. People-pleasers also are known as unreliable because they tell people what they want to hear. One example of a successful individual who isn’t overly concerned with the sensitivity of his staff is Chef Gordon Ramsay. He runs a tight ship in the kitchen and is expected to be a vocal leader. When running the pass, he cares about getting the best out of his chefs and motivating through tough love, not coddling feelings.

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3. You place the needs of others before your own.

“Can you stay late to finish the project?” If you always answer yes to every request, you are putting yourself at an inconvenience. It could actually be counterproductive and show others that your time isn’t valuable. As Steve Jobs would exemplify, you need to spend your time and effort judiciously. Successful people know when to say no to projects or efforts unworthy of their skills or time.

4. You avoid conflict and remain on the sidelines

Anytime tempers flare or voices rise, are you always there to settle it? You need to begin to learn that it is not your responsibility to always be a peacemaker. Sure there are times to be diplomatic, but if you are always there to solve everything, you will be taken advantage of. Sometimes conflict and arguments are necessary to create productivity and negotiate compromises. As Martin Luther King Jr. demonstrated, the worst action during times of conflict that tests morals and values is to take no stance.

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5. You don’t use your authoritative voice.

If you find yourself in a leadership position or a role of authority, you find it difficult to speak with clarity and confidence. A leader who has an authoritative voice and defined goals is more respected than someone who shies away from responsibility. It is more respectable to set up boundaries and maintain frame with an authoritative voice.

Featured photo credit: Financial Times Photos via farm4.staticflickr.com

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Mark Ortega

Professor of English

10 Things Only People Who Seldom Get Angry Would Understand 5 Traits That Make You Nice But Unsuccessful

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Last Updated on August 6, 2020

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

Are we speaking the same language?

My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

Am I being lazy?

When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

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Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

Early in the relationship:

“Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

When the relationship is established:

“Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

Have I actually got anything to say?

When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

Am I painting an accurate picture?

One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

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How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

What words am I using?

It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

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Is the map really the territory?

Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

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