I was discussing with a close friend a while back about the qualities we value in partners. The first point he jumped in quickly to spray out, with a shudder and dismissive throw of the arms, which I found myself readily agreeing too, was the ‘nice’ factor. Who wants this ‘nice’ person, and really, what is the definition and meaning behind nice that the majority of us find so, so unattractive? As I chuckle to myself about the possible absurdity of us both quivering over having a nice person in our lives, I really want to analyse what nice means to me, what is so bad about being nice, and more so, how it effects the way we can leak our energy reserves.

A week on from the conversation above, I was left thinking to myself (and releasing a series of enormous gulps, sighs and wide eyes), ‘…am… I… the nice girl?’ I began questioning my own perceived ‘niceness’ amongst friends, partners, Clients, family, even strangers and acquaintances… I theorised, recalled situations, doubted and even scared myself. I do often say ‘yes’ when I really mean ‘no’, it’s normal behaviour to bend over backwards for friends in an effort to be appreciated or liked, I used to be the one who couldn’t say no to social engagement to maintain my popularity and friendships. Was I continuing some of that behaviour unaware, whilst trying to shed my concurrent ability to mould to others…?! Am I leaking energy, oozing it from ‘Nice Leigh’?

So after some pondering and testing, where did I get to after this realisation…?

There’s a fine line between nice and kind

I reflected on what ‘kind’ meant to me, why it was an important value to me, what was it all about? Often I start with when a value is unmet, or out of balance to get the nugget of golden insight… so in the spirit of sharing (and kindness) my favourite example of my own incongruent behaviour around ‘kindness’ is the balancing act between kindness to you over others. I used to put all my energy and desire for kindness into others. I thought if I am a caring, giving, supportive, generous friend then I am going to be known and seen as the good friend, a lovely person, who everyone wants around them, popular and fabulous. I cringe at it now, but I was actually being ‘nice’.

What I found was I was giving out too much ‘nice’ to the point where I was feeling exhausted, depleted and honestly, quite resentful. It took me a while to understand and accept my own behaviours. It started with some really strong negative self-talk, I would beat myself up for not being good enough. One day it dawned on me, ‘sh*t, I’m not even being kind to myself, so how on earth can I expect others to be kind to me.’ I need to be this change and start being kind and respecting myself first. All this energy is being shot into others as a priority.

Understand your definitions of ‘nice’ and ‘kind’

Kindness has authenticity and respect woven into it, and niceness comes from a place of obligation and falseness for me. I didn’t want to be ‘nice’ anymore; I want to be kind to myself, and others who deserve my kindness, in return for their care for me. For me to accept their generosity, for me to look after myself and respect my own time and space before sharing it with others. So I’ve gradually stopped being so ‘nice’. Sometimes it’s hard to catch myself. I do consider whether I really wanted to ‘do’ something, when I am asked a question, I sit with my response, is it really a yes or am I screaming ‘nooooo’ inside? The ‘kind effect’ is day-by-day taking over and I am feeling energised by my choices, not beaten.

Experiment a little…

Consider the nice and kind effect in your life. Do you see a difference between the two?

Is there one thing you can do today, to be kind to yourself as the priority, rather than leaking ‘niceness’ into others first?

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I’m an experienced career coach and mentor here to help you improve your mindset, motivation and momentum. I believe everyone has the power to change their lives. It starts with taking responsibility.