Don’t Go Overboard Trying to Be Nice

There is definite value to being seen as nice by your client, opposing party and counsel when it comes to negotiations. They should hopefully be nice back, and they may even open up and trust you more because of your nice behavior. But overly nice people could finish last. Instead, an article by Lifehacker suggests trying to be honest, polite, and assertive.

If you’re overly concerned about being seen as nice, you may avoid being less than nice at times because you see yourself as a good person. You’re performing a kind of service to the rest of the world by holding back criticism and saying something purely nice instead. You can have strong opinions and still be a kind person. You can stand up for yourself and others and still care about what someone has to say.

Though there are benefits to being seen as nice, being too nice can be detrimental to you and those around you in some ways.

  • You could be seen as indecisive or non-opinionated. Instead of being honest, you say something doesn’t matter, or you don’t care. This leaves others to make the decision. Not voicing an opinion to others may be seen as insecurity and a lack of trust in them.
  • To avoid being left out, you may not voice an opinion. But to be a good friend, co-worker or leader you need to share your views and listen to others.
  • If you’re less than honest to others to be seen as nice, that lying will eventually have consequences, including mental and physical pressure.
  • Trying so hard to be seen as nice may cause others to think the opposite of you. Instead, you may be perceived as passive and boring. By tactfully sharing your true opinions with others they’re more likely to view you as a dynamic and unique.
  • A recent study showed that nice people are more likely to follow orders given to them by an authority figure, even if those orders will hurt someone else. Those who were less agreeable and more controversial by nature were more likely to question the ethics of such orders and refuse to follow them.
  • Giving undeserved praise could, in the long run, harm the person and your relationship. Corrective feedback could be very helpful in the long run for all involved.
  • Being overly nice all the time can result in disliking and resenting the people who benefit from your oversupply of niceness. Saying or doing what others want, can cause you to become stressed out, overworked and bitter towards the people you think you’re helping.

We all need to be civil and being the person who’s unable to keep opinions to them self also won’t improve your relationships with others. We all need to balance the desire to be liked by others while being honest to ourselves and others.

When it comes to the legal profession as helpful as it is to be perceived as nice, it’s much better to be seen as honest and effective. Without honesty there can’t be trust and that’s critical to your relationship with your client. Don’t sacrifice your strengths on the altar of niceness.