I Don’t Want to be Nice
A coworker the other day said something to the effect of, “you’re so nice,” and I bristled at the comment. I know he was meaning well, but nice isn’t what I want to be, particularly in my work. I’ve really been mulling this one over. Why do I feel that push back against nice? How should I, and do I conduct myself?
Nice is a pushover. Nice doesn’t take risks. Nice does what’s expected and what others want. Nice smiles and says kind words, but doesn’t always mean it. Nice isn’t always fair because it wants to be liked.
What I’ve realized, and what I try to be, is fair but kind. Kind has a listening ear even when the topic or the person is difficult. Kind is sincere when it says that it cares, or offers a smile. Kind doesn’t let nice stop it from loving the difficult person or disciplining the lovable person.
If I had to pick one of the two, I’d choose to be fair. Not because it’s easier, but in spite of it being harder. Fairness is difficult. On it’s face it seems like it would be easy, you just apply the rules across the board to everyone. But is that really fair? If no matter who you are you get the same consequences then those with less capacity are at a disadvantage. Then those already disadvantaged by structural racism, sexism, homophobia, and other biases get double hit.
I suppose that’s where kindness comes in. To temper the strict edge of rules. To do it’s best to make fair as fair as it can be. Fair but kind has become my mantra of late. Making the tough calls, getting through the long days, this requires a center you can return to. A core that guides your decisions. Fair. Kind. That’s what I’ve been striving for each day. Not nice.