The fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.” – Bertrand Russell
Nice people never rock the boat. They never speak up. They let people talk over them. Their opinions get dismissed and mocked. When good people don’t stick up for themselves, the world gets overrun by pricks.
But being nice is not the same as being good. Being nice actually means being fake. It means not saying the things you desperately need to say. It means letting people harm you. It means never getting what you want. Some say all that fakeness can give you cancer.
You should be less nice, not for the sake of the world, but for the sake of you.
Here are 10 ways to be less nice and more free:
1. Make Your Needs Known
Putting other people’s needs before your own sounds noble, but it could just as easily be a way of hiding your needs.
You are committing a crime against yourself by keeping your needs a secret. People will help you get your needs met if you are brave enough to admit them.
I know this is difficult, especially if you’ve never had a high opinion of yourself, but people cannot read your mind. They are not going to guess what terrible issue you might be having. So you have to take the leap and say what you need most.
2. Say What You Mean
If someone asks for your opinion, give it. You spend too much energy managing how you can say things to people without offending them. Instead, try being direct.
Say what you mean and people will call you a straight shooter. People don’t ask you questions just so you can lie to them.
Have tact of course, but if you always say what you mean, you’ll never have to regret what you didn’t say. Those are the things you can’t take back.
3. Nip Bad Behavior in the Bud
If someone does something to you that you don’t like, don’t let it fall away. People will move into whatever territory you allow them to. And they’ll keep moving.
If you let the small things go, they’ll grow into bigger issues over time. People can tell when you don’t have the self-respect to enforce your boundaries. Eventually, you will get treated like garbage.
So, before it gets to that point, let people know what you will and won’t tolerate.
4. Be Honest
Show people who you are. Again, terrifying, but also liberating. Share your likes and dislikes. Don’t apologize for the things you believe.
You don’t have to be radically transparent about everything, but you can’t spend your life hiding either. If the people around you don’t like what they see, then maybe it’s time to find new people.
5. Think in Terms of Respect
Both of these clichés are true: 1. Everyone deserves a chance. 2. Respect is earned.
People deserve a chance to earn your respect. But, if they fail their chance, then don’t feel obliged to be nice to them.
If they haven’t earned your respect, then why waste the energy trying to please them? Why would you spend your life trying to impress people you don’t respect? You don’t have to respect anyone, especially if they don’t respect you.
6. Stand Up for Yourself
I have trouble deciding when I should be upset and when I shouldn’t. If someone messes with me, I always think to myself, “I didn’t like that, but is it worth making a thing out of it?” The older I get, the more I realize that the answer is almost always yes.
When you let someone cross what should be an obvious boundary, it stays with you. It feels safer to let it go in the moment, but it digs away at your psyche long after the moment passes.
Imagine how you would feel if you always spoke up, and made your boundaries clear. You would carry a sense of pride and self-appreciation with you wherever you went.
7. “Interrupt” People
I would have enormous trouble approaching people and starting conversations. I always figured that I would be annoying them or holding them up somehow. But I came to realize that my reasons for wanting to be social were valid. Yours are too. So dive in.
Chime into conversations. If you have something you want to say, and the people around you won’t stop talking, then you need to speak with the intention of being heard. This doesn’t have to involve yelling.
Just commit to what you’re saying, and deliver it with unapologetic conviction.
8. Say No Way More Often Than You Say Yes
“Well, I guess this is good for me. I can’t expect more than this, right?” No. Thinking like this can only lead to the life of quiet desperation that Thoreau talked about.
If something is offered to you and your answer isn’t “Hell yeah,” then your answer should be no. A lifetime of half-hearted yes’s won’t lead you to happiness.
So let people down. Surprise them with your sudden self-respect. And have a good time doing the things you truly want to do.
9. Put Yourself First (in a Good Way)
If you’re at a party or a social gathering, don’t try to please the people around you with your niceness (That would be boring and miserable for everyone involved). Instead, put yourself first.
Focus on what is fun for you. How can you get the most out of this moment?
This is what social gatherings are for. Not for putting on a facade to please others, but for honoring yourself enough to have your own fun. Be self-validated.
Meeting your own needs gives you the energy to give back to others. Think of it this way: You can’t share an empty cup. If you meet your needs, you’ll have something to share.
10. Realize That It’s Ok to Be Competitive
I used to think that competition was just about ego and selfishness until I realized that I wanted to win too. It’s natural to want to reach your potential and experience victory.
Competing against others is good for you and for them. Allowing yourself to be competitive with people gives them the opportunity to rise to the occasion and a means of testing their limits. It is a sign of respect.
The “nice” alternative is coddling and going easy them; i.e., treating them like children. This shows that you only care about whether your competition likes you.
A New Way of Looking at Nice
A nice person is too afraid to be real.
Kindness is real, but niceness is fake. The opposite of niceness is authenticity. And achieving true authenticity is one of the hardest things there is, especially if you’ve been acting fake your whole life. But it’s worth it.
The rewards of not being nice:
- People will respect you more.
- You’ll respect yourself more.
- Authenticity will make you more attractive and charismatic.
- Authenticity will strengthen your connections to others.
- You’ll go after the things you want, and you’ll have the ability to ask for them.
- You won’t have to take anyone’s shit.
- You’ll be able to call out people’s poor behavior, which helps everyone else too.
A good person without an edge is harmless. And harmless people can’t make anything happen, good or evil. So value yourself. And remember that you don’t always have to be so damn nice.
These ideas are discussed at length in No More Mr. Nice Guy by Robert Glover (not an affiliate link), and it was the primary source of this article. It's a fantastic resource for men trying to build their self-respect. Highly recommended.