stop being so niceRecently, someone posted on my Facebook timeline: “I like nice people who do nice things.” I replied: “I like nice people – full stop.”

As a (former) card-carrying member of the Do Nice Things For People brigade, I can reveal that “nice” people derive a large part of their sense of self-worth from doing nice things for other people.

We do nice things because we want people to like us.

What we actually crave is for people to like us because of who we ARE, rather than because of what we DO. But we’re not taking any chances! After all, being liked for what you DO is better than not being liked at all…

There is a reason and a benefit behind any behaviour, and I think we do nice things for other people because we’re hoping they will reciprocate and do nice things for us.

The problem is, we often don’t do nice things for ourselves – so we are in desperate need of someone to care about and for us.

And if they don’t reciprocate, then resentment can build – which rather flies in the face of doing nice things in the first place! And we can’t help it. We start to feel put upon, because we’ve allowed ourselves to be taken for granted.

It’s a bit like someone with a sweet tooth, living in a sweet shop – they would soon take it as read that they could help themselves to sweet things whenever they liked. But how would the sweet shop owner feel about that!

Everyone likes it when someone does something nice for them – perhaps it’s because, deep down, we’re all “nice” people, and we want someone else to acknowledge that. But we need to steer away from that model, and start acknowledging the “niceness” in people regardless of what they do.

So, if this resonates with you, my advice to you is this: Stop Being So Nice!

I’m not suggesting you start being horrid. I’m just saying: try just BEING nice, instead of feeling you have to DO nice things. If you’re going to do something nice, then do it for yourself – because people like people who like themselves. They become very attractive.

And if the odd nice deed for someone else slips out, don’t worry about it – just don’t make it a habit! 🙂


Please feel free to leave a comment below, on Facebook or on Twitter (#30DWC). You can also follow my progress on Facebook and Twitter #30DWC.

4 thoughts on “Stop Being So Nice!

  1. Hi Julia,

    This is another great post and boy, does it resonate. I also remember somebody once saying to me, ‘Do you want to be liked or do you want to be respected?’ Good question! Plus when you focus on being nice, then you can choose to ‘do’ something nice because you really want to, not because you want someone to like you, which is authentic too. Great post.

  2. Julia Barnickle

    Thanks Leda! Yes, that’s a very good point. If your goal is to be liked, then you tend to become a doormat, and people don’t respect you – and, as you say, it’s far more authentic to do something nice because you really want to! 🙂

  3. There’s a related point about the nature of helping, I think. I’ve known people who are desperate to give the form of help they’ve just thought you should have, whether you want it or not! Sometimes I’ve been that person too.

  4. Julia Barnickle

    Oh yes, Tim – I think we’ve all been there at one time or other! It brings to mind the old jokes about boy scouts helping little old ladies across the road, whether they want to cross or not!! 🙂

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