Are you a people-pleaser?

If you’re a people-pleaser, then you probably struggle with being nice. Struggle? Huh?

It seems strange, but this a real challenge for someone who finds themself in a vicious cycle of trying to please others by being nice. If you struggle with this, then I’m sure you immediately recognized what I was talking about.

Within my coaching practice, lawyers of all demographics struggle with people-pleasing. My hope is that the following thoughts from Dr. Marcia Sirota’s book, Be Kind, Not Nice, may be useful to you or someone you care about:

  • The nice person seeks to build their self-esteem through others validating and affirming them. This often results in being mistreated or taken advantage of (p. x).
  • The nice person becomes disappointed, even resentful, when they realize these needs cannot be met by someone else (p. 113).
  • The kind person is full of happy, positive feelings that spill over into dealing with others (p. xi).
  • The kind person isn’t worried about how they’re seen by others. They’re able to ask for what they want. They’re able to express their feelings. They’re able to say “no” (p. 149).
  • The kind person wants to do the right thing for others, but not at the expense of sacrificing their own well-being or violating their own dignity (p. 150).

One of my clients has learned to set boundaries in a kind way.  She said it’s important to be “respectful of yourself, rather than always being ‘nice’ and saying, ‘yes’ to every work assignment.” Another client used the phrase “No more Mr. Nice Guy” as his mantra for 2024 (I bought him a t-shirt with that logo).

When you think about it, kindness has integrity. It’s a principled way of interacting with oneself and the world. One therapist touts the benefits of being kind: “So in addition to helping people manage their energy, emotions, and communication, this approach can also be a good guideline for avoiding moral injury to oneself and others.”

Being nice, on the other hand, is superficial. “The need to always be seen as the ‘nice guy’ or ‘nice girl’ can lead to a lack of genuineness, a tendency to mislead others to avoid discomfort, and too much focus on image rather than substance,” says the same therapist.

Be kind, not nice.

Does the above resonate with you? Let me know your thoughts!

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