Kindness Conservation

DenaJuly 30, 2009

I’ve been thinking about the difference between nice and too nice? Where do we draw the line? The answer is a lot simpler than I thought.

I have always prided myself on being a kind person. I am the girl in the office who smiles every time you pass her in the hall, bump into her at the water cooler, stop by the cubicle to drop off a file. I have always been the girl who the “older” woman or the “different” guy in the class befriends because no one else has the patience. It went further than that though. I used to have a difficult time saying no, standing up for myself, getting angry even. I’m not sure when it all started to change, but it must have been shortly after I read The Four Agreements. I woke up and realized that what the book said is true.

If someone is not treating you with love and respect, it is a gift they walk away from you. If that person doesn’t walk away, you will surely endure years of suffering with him or her. Walking away may hurt for awhile, but your heart will eventually heal.

Yes, Ruiz is a genius, but it’s simple & true! This principle applies to every area of your life: romance, family, professional, friendships. If you are not treated with respect, walk away. Unreasonable requests from an abusive co-worker – walk away. A controlling lover who keeps you from your friends – walk away. A best friend who has been berating you since the fourth grade – walk away! One of two things will, happen: that person will change their behavior OR they won’t and you will have cut out a toxic tumor from your life.

A lot of good can come from being nice – trust, friendship, business deals. Nice people tend to do well in interviews. They become the boss’s favorite within months of being hired. Nice people are attractive. You can count on a nice person for a compliment, for a favor, for a listening ear. Nice people are good to have around; but again the question rises – where do we draw the line between nice and too nice?

Recently I read an article about “Respect in the Workplace.” It advised, “Don’t smile too much.” Don’t smile too much? This floored me! I started to think about it. I began to watch my coworkers. Who was smiling and who wasn’t? And how often? It was true! The people who don’t smile are the same people who tend to get more respect but sometimes they are also the same people (or person) who I so often hear called “The Office Bitch.”

So that brings up the next question, is there a way to command respect and authority while still being nice? After all, what happens when you hold everything in? When you never get angry? When you always say yes, yes, yes. Eventually you’ll snap, get an ulcer, develop anxiety, have blood pressure that’s hotter than lovemakin’ in August (without the AC on!). Can we command respect without being known as the “Office Bitch?”

Yes. Here is the key: you have to make your “niceness” valuable. Realize that being direct is not being rude. Actively decide when you are going to be nice. Exercise kindness because you want to not because it’s what everyone expects of you. With moderation, the value of your niceness will rise! When you learn to say no sometimes, people will value it so much more when you do say yes. People will respect you more and more importantly, you will respect yourself more. ♥Self-love, my favorite thing.

It’s time to start practicing nice on a budget!

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