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Are You TOO Nice at Work?

You’re a nice person, I know. And nice is good! That old saying that “nice guys finish last” is a myth. Niceness, by and large, is an asset to building relationships—both personal and professional.

However, there is a point of diminishing returns, especially in the workplace. Being TOO nice is a problem.

People who are deemed “too nice” may be seen as:

  • Pushovers
  • Weak
  • Easy Victims
  • Spineless
  • Cowardly

Looking at this list, I’m confident these aren’t words you want associated with your character.

So, where do you draw the line? How do you know when you’ve gone from “nice” to “too nice”? Here are some clues:

You Avoid Confrontation Like the Plague

Being “nice” means letting your colleagues have a bad day without feeling the need to confront every little thing. Sometimes, you gotta just let stuff roll off your back.

Being “too nice” means refusing to address important disagreements, miscommunications and other conflicts in a productive, straightforward manner. Instead, you shy away and hope these things will go away on their own, or you simply hide your feelings (from others and maybe even yourself) in order to keep the peace.

You Never Voice Dissent

Being “nice” means expressing your differing point-of-view in a tactful, respectful way that moves the conversation forward and helps achieve the best solution.

Being “too nice” means suppressing your differing points-of-view and going with the flow even when you feel strongly opposed to what’s going on. Being “too nice” can even put you in sticky ethical territory if you’re not careful.

You Give Credit to Everyone Else & Never Take It

Being “nice” means you share credit when it’s due. You’re generous with praise and vocal when colleagues have helped you achieve success while at the same time you’re able to articulate your own efforts and solicit the recognition you deserve.

Being “too nice” means giving credit to everyone else (or letting them steal it) while downplaying your own contributions. Maybe you think of it as being humble, but really, you’re devaluing yourself and letting others benefit from the fruits of your labor.

You Get Taken Advantage Of

Being “nice” means happily supporting your teammates when needed, while also recognizing your priorities. When it’s warranted, you say “no” in a way that is respectful and confident.

Being “too nice” means always saying “yes” (even at your own peril) and refusing to set appropriate limits for yourself. While it may feel like you’re being helpful, your colleagues are learning to walk all over you.

You Get Bullied

Being “nice” means recognizing that some people are just difficult and you don’t have to be best friends with everyone at work. If someone wants to be a jerk, you assume it will come back to bite them in the end. And if it goes too far, you confront the issue politely and professionally—but forcefully if needed. (Yes, you’re still a “nice” person even if you have to do that!)

Being “too nice” means you make yourself an easy target for bullies. You’re incapable of standing up for yourself so bullies just keep pushing and pushing—and you never push back. Instead, you internalize the frustration and view yourself as a victim.

The Solution

So what’s the answer? If you’ve accidentally slipped from being “nice” to being “too nice”, how do you pull back a bit?

It starts with recognizing that you don’t have to bend over backwards to accommodate the people around you ALL THE TIME. Yes, you want to be easy to work with, but you’re not a punching bag. People will actually respect you more—and even like you more—when you show your backbone. When someone appears “too nice” it can come off as inauthentic too. People start to wonder if you’re secretly harboring murderous fantasies about them! And if you hold things in for too long, you might just explode—or implode.

It’s also about learning to set limits and getting comfortable speaking up even when you’re saying things people don’t necessarily want to hear. It takes a shift of perspective to understand that you can still be nice even in times of conflict. As the saying goes: You can disagree without being disagreeable.

You can also be assertive without being an a$$. It takes time to develop these skills, but it’s well worth it. Your workplace interactions and relationships will improve (for the better!). Plus, you’ll feel more satisfied and more in control of your professional world, and your career will thrive!

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3 Responses to “Are You TOO Nice at Work?”

  1. Paul says:

    Isn’t this the truth. Only if they had jobs for people that were too nice…Ugh.

  2. Lisa says:

    I once was called into my bosses office and told I was too nice and to stop it. The day before a coworker was having what later turned out to be a stroke and I walked her to the hospital next door and stayed with her until her family arrived. I had left a note on my bosses desk to tell him where I was at and when I returned I stayed late to make up my time being gone even though I am salary. The next day I got called into the bosses office and was told I was too nice. He had actually gone to HR to talk about it turns out. He apparently expected me to find someone else to go with her and for me not to stay with her until family arrived. When I asked if there was something he was needing from me when I was gone that did not get done he said no.
    To this day, I don’t regret what I did and would do it again in a minute. I believe that yes, some people let others walk all over them but being compassionate and caring is something I think we all can use a little more of in our lives especially with our coworkers.

  3. Craig says:

    Thank you for the timely insight and advice.

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