There is a common pattern I see many women have which is a need to be nice. Women who are nice all the time and don’t ever say anything that may offend someone and always say the nice right thing. Often times, women will not be honest or direct about what they think or feel because they believe it is rude. I believe a big part of this development comes from cultural and familial experience. A lot of women are trained to be nice and suppress their feelings and speaking their truth.
It has been my experience that women are taught to be nice because there is a belief that being direct and assertive is unattractive. Also women are taught that being nice gets them approval and to be liked by others. I have found that many women do not feel confident or deserving enough to speak the truth. They also have a misconception that being honest and speaking their truth is being rude or too aggressive.
Having manners is important, but what I am discussing here is women who are extremely nice because they feel that is how they should behave. And as a result, suppress sharing their true feelings and thoughts. You are not being honest and straight with people when you just say things that are nice and make you look good. If you are with holding the truth you are actually being inauthentic.
I also see women who devalue their self-worth by being nice to people who are not treating them respectfully. I remember in the past I would do this too. I cared more about people liking me than being honest and expressing my discomfort or anger, so I would keep it in and be nice. If someone was rude or not being respectful of me I would still be very nice to them because I felt a duty to be nice. I know many women who are like this.
I saw the cost that being nice had on me and my life. It ate away my self-esteem and my self-confidence. I also harbored a lot of resentment toward myself and others. I was not fully self-expressed. I did not know how to be honest or speak my truth, especially in dating and career. I was so trained to stuff my emotions and opinions down.
A good way to overcome this pattern, is to get clear on what your motivations are for being really nice to people. If you want the approval and acceptance of people by being very nice than you probably are getting a lot of your self-worth and value from people and how they treat and respond to you.
I am still nice and I enjoy being warm toward people. What is different about me now than in the past, is that now I am not nice to win approval or because I think it is the right thing to do. I CHOOSE to be nice and do nice because it brings me joy. There is a big difference between the two. One comes from a place of empowerment and choice. The other comes from sense of duty or obligation and needing validation. When you are nice because you feel you are supposed to be, you are probably carrying around a lot of resentment and anger toward people and yourself.
You want to acknowledge that it is ok to not always be nice. You also have the freedom to be honest and not be nice to a person who is not respecting you or your values. Choose in the moment to honor yourself and what you want instead of being nice. Many times people will talk even when they do not want to or do not have anything to say because they feel it is the nice thing to do. If you do not want to talk and prefer a silent moment, then don’t talk.
If you are out with a friend or at work and you need to leave, be honest, say you need to leave. Don’t stay later because you are scared you will offend the other person. That is all motivated by the need to look good and avoid looking bad. You can not control how people feel and react toward you or their beliefs about you. So your better off doing what makes you feel good and empowers you.
Making a request is a good demonstration of how women tend to be over nice. Notice the way you make a request. Often times you will say extra nice words like “I would like to know if” or “if you don’t mind”, “I know you’re busy but when you have a chance can you”, “I am sorry to bother you but”. All of these are nice ways of making a request. Be direct next time and say “I want to use your car next Sunday, may I borrow it? “I need to leave now” “I wont do that”. Take out all the extra necessary words that make you look good and just be straight.
Your assignment: Journal about what your beliefs about being nice come from. What motivates you to be nice? What has been the payoff of being very nice? What has been the cost of being very nice? Be on the look out for when you are not being honest and authentic. See when you were going to say something that was not true for you or be nice when you did not want to be. Acknowledge that you do not have to be, give your self the freedom to be authentic and self-expressed.
Copyright (c) 2007 Melisa Milonas LLC