By Julie Fuimano, MBA, BSN, RN
Special to NurseZone
Do you feel as though people seem to single you out for extra work? Do you often feel like a dumping ground? Do you feel resentful, wondering why you seem to find yourself in these situations—overwhelmed and overextended?
You have more power here than you realize. People don’t know what’s on your plate. And while it may be flattering that they think you’ll be good for the task, that doesn’t make it fit into your schedule any easier. Just because people ask doesn’t mean you have to comply. It’s not what other people do or ask of you, but rather how you respond that causes your angst and unhappiness.
Why Are You Being 'Nice?'
What does it mean to be “nice?” Usually, when we think about someone who is “nice,” we describe him as thoughtful, kind, considerate, warm and welcoming. He is genuine, perhaps compassionate. A “nice” person possesses certain qualities that make him someone we regard in a positive way. But, is being “nice” always positive? Can your focus on being “nice” get in the way of your success?
"Nice” is one of those catch-all words that means a lot of different things. If you focus on being “nice,” you might find that you are not achieving the results you want, that people aren’t treating you with the respect you deserve. You seem to get passed over for the promotions. People just don’t seem to take you seriously. Being “nice” is not the best way for a leader to lead. “Nice” has to do with the delivery not the essence of what you say or do. “Nice” describes how you do what you do. Leaders lead by doing the right thing and they do it in a “nice” way.
When you focus on being nice, you often say “yes” to things you don’t want to do, saying “no” to yourself and dismissing your own values and responsibilities. Perhaps you simply don’t know how to say “no,” or you may be habituated to answer “yes.”
Perhaps you simply don’t want people to feel bad so you say “yes” whenever possible. You want to be liked. It scares you to consider that someone may not think fondly of you. It takes a lot of energy to concern yourself with what other people think about you. Meanwhile, you become a dumping ground. This has the opposite effect to the happiness and respect you want. As you say “yes” to everything and everyone, you have more and more to do, become more and more stressed, have less time to focus on your own work and responsibilities and become more and more resentful and angry. Your evaluations may even suffer because you have less time to focus on your own stuff and are more focused on looking good for others. However, resentment is more about you than others. Resentment is anger at yourself for not asserting yourself and for not taking care of yourself. There is always a toll when you put other people before your own well-being.
What Do You Value?
Consider this: What is it costing you to not honor yourself and your values? What do you lose by spending your time, energy and effort on pleasing others by being “nice?” How are your relationships suffering? Your health? Your work?
The reality is that our lives are a reflection of the expression of our values. Whatever you do is what you value most in this moment. If you are busy doing things for other people and not asking yourself the hard questions about what you want and learning to turn down requests that are incongruent with your values, then you are not living true to yourself and you are hurting—even if you don’t know it!
So how do you recover from being “nice?” Here are three steps to doing the right thing?
- Stop to consider what you gain by being “nice.” What is your motive for saying “yes” to this request? How will it serve you? Is there fear here? What are you afraid of? Is your fear taking away your power to choose? So what if the person doesn’t like you? It’s more important for you to like you. You are the most important person in your life because at the end of the day you have no one else to answer to but you. You are responsible for the quality of your life.
- Define “nice” for yourself in other terms. Come up with meaningful words that better express how you want people to feel about you. “Nice" is not a power word. Compassionate, thoughtful, genuine—these are more powerful and appropriate words to describe how you want to be experienced by others.
- Learn to say “no” to things that are not in your best interest. This can be very challenging for people; however, in order for you to bring more happiness and joy into your life, you must become willing to turn down those things that are not of value to you and that are not the best use of your time.
It can be challenging to shift your focus away from being “nice.” Focus on simply doing what is right. Is it the right thing to do right now? Is it the best use of your time? Are you the best person for this job or task? What do you want to do?
This comes up in your home life as well as your work life. Sometimes it can be difficult to say “no” to family or friends when they ask for your company or your assistance. When you learn to put yourself first and check in with your Inner Self to see what you want, then you can respond with what works best for you and do so in a way that is respectful and considerate. If you want to go to the party and cook all of the hors d’oeuvres, that’s fine. But if you already have commitments and you don’t want to get up at four in the morning to cook, then you need to say “no” without guilt, without feeling bad. It is the right thing to do—for you. You cannot be everything to everybody. Focus on being your best and on making yourself happy. When you honor yourself, you find that others learn to respect you and honor you. And when you assert yourself appropriately, you will be respectful of others.
As the CEO of “Nurturing Your Success” and a Professional Coach, Julie has helped hundreds of people develop their personal power so they feel confident in their communications: managing emotional reactions, transcending conflicts and speaking up for themselves. Julie is dedicated to helping people get out of their own way and achieve a new level of success in life and career.