Thursday, November 17, 2011

Lessons Learned - Sometimes "being nice" is just mean


I used to have a real problem with being the bad guy. Or even being perceived as the bad guy. I'm a peacekeeper at heart. I didn't like hurting other people's feelings. I didn't want to see others suffer because of my actions and it was integral that people (all people everywhere in the entire universe) like me. We call this condition worrying about the wrong damn things or "TooNiceForYoOwnDamnGood" (TNFDG) - being so determined to be nice, accommodating and charming to others that you are doing yourself a grave disservice.

This crazy complex played hell with my career in Human Resources where I often had to be the person to deliver crushing news. I would tap dance around the issue hoping the person I was talking to took the hint. I would breeze over it in conversation and then follow-up with an email that broke all the really bad news. That came to a screeching halt when I had to lay off folks. There's no kinder, gentler way to tell someone that their job is gone in thirty days but here's a nice packet of information to make you feel better about it.

This problem was even worse in my relationships when I didn't want to tell a guy that I wasn't feeling him anymore. In my early twenties, I was a serial phone-call-dodger-and-fade-to-black. So much so that I've had people (years later) walk up and ask "Whatever happened between you and me? One minute you were there, the next... not."

That wasn't fair to either of us. It was actually meaner (more mean?) to leave the guy hanging in limbo than to have just told him "we've come to the end of the road" when I first started feeling that way. 

That all came to a screeching halt when I ran into one guy who wouldn't take the missed phone calls and canceled dates as a hint. The first time I had to say, "We are not going to work out, please quit calling me," was probably harder for me than for him. He gave me the bewildered, "What did I do?" and when I told him, he shrugged and walked out. He was dating someone else two nights later. That experience plus getting bruised a bit in the game of love hardened me up enough that.. nice wasn't as important as getting my point across.

Not that I'm mean or anything, I'm perfectly delightful... but no one is ever confused about where I stand, what I mean and where the lines are drawn. Honestly, some of my early relationships were a hot mess because I wouldn't articulate what I was thinking or feeling for fear of hurting the other person's feeling. So it was more okay for me to be miserable than for them to be a little uncomfortable? Yeah... no - I got over that. 

I'm still a peacekeeper but I'm also a militant, a realist and a lover of brutal honesty. I have started inserting phrases like, "It's great that you feel that way but it's not going to happen." Or "I'm so glad you asked me that, the answer really is no. In fact, hell no." And my personal favorite, "It is important to me that you are happy but not at the sake of my sanity." I have thoughts and they must be heard and acknowledged. Good, bad and ugly. See? I'm an absolute joy. 

Lesson Learned: Say what you mean and mean what you say. Early and often. It's easier for everybody in the long run.

BougieLand, know anybody with TNFDG? Are you afflicted with this malady your self? Is it a case of trying to do the right thing and taking it too far? Is there a point at which being too nice is denial and avoidance? Without getting into the whole "nice guys" meme, do men suffer from this same disease? What, besides life and an epiphany can fix it? Thoughts, comments, insights? The floor is yours...

43 comments:

Penny said...

"It is important to me that you are happy but not at the sake of my sanity." I have thoughts and they must be heard and acknowledged. 

Taps this into memo pad in cell phone.  Thanks much.

rozb said...

I used to be a "TNFYDG" gal until I tried to be blunt. A man I was seeing just was not going to work out. I invited him over to talk (I mean - if I was gonna start being blunt I had to be able to face somebody, right?) He came over and without even letting him remove his coat or sit down, I said "We are not compatible. Our belief structure is too much to overcome. I do not want to be in a relationship with you anymore. Please go find somebody that aligns with you and will be good to you. Because right now, you might end up hating me."

He stood there looking at the ground for a minute, then looked at me and said "But we can still have sex right? You not cutting everything off right away, are you?" -__-  O__O o__O

I came back with "Umm...get the f#&k out. Right now. Bye." He left, and it was over. No stalking, no drunk dials, no nothing. Didn't hurt one bit being blunt.

Now I prefer honesty right away. It probably won't be as bad as you may imagine it, and you can sleep at night. Aaannnddd...I am still considered so nice and sweet to the point someone will say "I know how hard that was for you to say/do that, you are too nice!" No ma'am, not hard at all.

Jason P said...

This story covers a few of your questions from this week-
I was seeing this girl in college. I thought we both understood that we were "just kicking it" and that was cool. Then one day, she said she loved me and all I could say was "I like you a lot" - that did not go over well. She got upset and (back then) I was Mr. Nice Guy so I said "well we can still go out and see what happens." Disastrous! From then on it was clear, every cocoa stir she was waiting on my to declare some grand feelings. I was mad uncomfortable. I couldn't figure out how to walk without making it worse. I ended up sneaking around seeing someone else. The whole thing got ugly. I would not be 19 again for anything.

Yes. It's awkward when someone says they love you and you don't say it. It's trifling to be nice to the point where you aren't even truthful.

thinklikeRiley said...

I don't have this problem. Never will.

MsJamie14 said...

Yeah, no problem with being "too nice" here. I'm a Sagittarius. I'm trying to tone down the abrasiveness. LOL

But it's like you said, ultimately, I think it's meaner to leave someone in limbo, guessing or with lack of closure. It's never fun to hurt somene, but at the end, I hope you can at least respect the fact that I was upfront, direct and ultimately honest about things.

rozb said...

I understand this very well.

GrownAzzMan said...

I'm a Scorpio and immune to TNFDG.

Jubi The Great said...

I don't think anyone has confused me with being "too nice". I'm nice, but if it comes down to my happiness over someone else's, my happiness is going win out everytime.

I do however have a problem with being the "breaker upper" when a relationship isn't working out. Especially if the guy hasn't done anything egregious & we're just not a good fit. Its easy to break up with someone when they did you wrong, but hard to tell someone that they just  aren't your cup of tea even tho they will be great for someone else. The "disappear & hope they get the hint" thing isn't my style tho - I've had guys pull it on me & its worse than just having them break up with you.

Leo the Yardie Chick said...

"He stood there looking at the ground for a minute, then looked at me and said "But we can still have sex right? You not cutting everything off right away, are you?" -__-  O__O o__O" <- Dis ninja....

Ivory Tabb said...

No TNFDG over here, and I don’t think anybody really thinks
that I am, I try though lol must be the east coast in me. But I hate when folks
think  because you are being straight
forward or direct you must be a B****. Just cause I say to you some things you may
not like to hear why do I have to be a B. Is it because I was direct and you
are used to people giving you want you want? Or is it because you needed to
hear things in a certain way to actually grasp the concept of what I am saying?

Marioned said...

I would change it to:  "It is important that we both be happy if possible but  I am not going forsake my sanity."

DB said...

Can't fault the guy for asking.   There is a small chance the answer could have been yes.

Marioned said...

When I was younger I did some fades to black, especially if things were pretty new.  As I got older I realized the  value of being straight up. It didn't always go over well but that had more to do with how the other person felt and not how I presented it.  

Miz JJ said...

I think as woman we are trained to be people pleasers and nice. My role in my family has definitely been as the peace keeper and now I work in PR so I am constantly spinning things.  However, when I say "No" or "I can't" I hate when people keep pushing. I won't even lie an episode of Oprah changed my life. When she or a man she had on said "When you say 'no' and the person keeps trying to convince you otherwise your first thought should be 'Why is this person trying to control me?'" Once you know that you get angry that people are trying to manipulate you. I get really angry when people don't hear my first polite 'No' or 'We are broken up' or 'I'd love to help, but I can't at this time'. Mean JJ comes out and nobody likes her. Mean JJ's a bitch.

blackprofessor said...

I have been guilty of TNFDG in the dating arena.  Today, my well-being takes precedent over everything and I don't mind being the bad girl.  I try not to be mean but if I need to be mean in order to get my point across, so be it!

Cassie said...

I cured myself of this affliction as well. Because people confuse nice for weak and that's not what I wanted to project.

ShawnSoze said...

You are still too nice. Seriously.
I, on the other hand, have to remind myself to be nice.

JaymeC said...

You've got that people pleaser thing. I have it too. Just have to learn where to stop pleasing others to the detriment of yourself.

Earthangel172 said...

This.

However, I do bite my tongue A LOT because I don't like to intentionally hurt people. With that said, I can't hide how I feel so I just speak the truth in love (where my Bible readers at?) and call it a day. Once I speak my mind, I'm not apologizing for what I said and there is no changing my mind.

Penny said...

Miss JJ, why did you not post this 2 hours ago when I was cornered by someone I know casually at work who wants me to volunteer for something (and make use of my connections here at work) that I really don't care about.   I couldn't say no outright, so I  gave her my card and told her to email me.  I just walked away mumbling "I don't care about that issue....Mumble, mumble, mumble...

bashowell said...

Oh I was famous for the fade to black.  But in the past few years something clicked and if it's not working I will say so.  Super clearly.  Trying to cushion it and make it nice won't work a lot of times because dude still sees that door as being open.  And there are the ones that won't listen either way...then I had to get mean cuz they were too stupid to get it.

SingLikeSassy said...

I don't have this issue.

maureen said...

"TooNiceForYoOwnDamnGood" (TNFDG) - being so determined to be nice, accommodating and charming to others that you are doing yourself a grave disservice."  This was me, especially with family members. Doing better though these days.

rozb said...

Umm...Bougieland...I will be limiting my interaction on Bougieland. 'CAUSE I HAVE A JOB!!!!!!!

I went into the interview and nailed it! I was offered the position before I could blink. I will be a technical writer for a young telecommunications company, and I am stoked!!! WOOOOOOOOOOO HOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!

I so did NOT like being unemployed. It was messing with my shoe game and ish...

rozb said...

Not even the smallest of iotas of a chance.

Wanyanak said...

I am more of a lurker than a commenter, but always look forward to what you have to say here on BL. Congratulations!

Earthangel172 said...

Congrats Rozb!!! #cocktails

MsJamie14 said...

That is wonderful news. Congratulations!

C Nelson said...

Congratulations!

OneChele said...

Congrats!

Muriel Isaac said...

I must raise my hand and admit that I suffer from the affliction of TNFDG.  I've been a people pleaser my whole life; my friends have been telling me I'm too nice since elementary school!  And while I've been taking steps to change that about myself, it's a process.

I'm currently talking to someone who I've come to realize I'm not quite into, but I've been putting off that conversation and sort of "fading to black".  Yeah, I know...I gotta do better.  But every time I imagine having the conversation, my stomach knots up, mainly because I'm afraid of hurting his feelings.  I keep asking myself, "Why am I putting more stock in his feelings than my own?"  The fact that I'm asking the question shows that I'm making progress, but the fact that I'm avoiding the issue shows that I have a ways to go.

Sol_dier said...

party over at Rozb's :-)

rozb said...

Thank you all! *curtsies* Now off to get ready for some tequila this weekend. YAY!

tiffanyinhouston said...

Being married has actually made me nicer, cause prior to if you weren't a good friend or family I could give a lovely eff. And being that I'm not really all that shy, I had (have) a tendency to be a bit too blunt in relationships. What can I say..I'm worked on using my nice words.

GammasWorld said...

You Go GIRL!!!!!  

CaliGirlED said...

*does a two step for Roz then tosses back a shot* You go girl!!!

maureen said...

congratulations!

NatashaHunter said...

Congratulations,  I can't stand having my accessories account messed with either!

BklynBajan said...

Congratulations Roz! Please sprinkle some job dust for the rest of us. DSW is about to send out a search party on me....

BklynBajan said...

Mean BklynBajan has made grown men cry. If I've done 3 sets of my breathing exercise and you're still pushing me then it ain't my fault :).

The Bunni said...

Congratulations! 

rozb said...

Hey BB! Consider the job dust sprinkled!

I believe in paying it forward. I got my job by being referred to a recruiting firm that places folks in technical positions. I am on a "Contract to Hire" position, meaning that at the end of my term with the firm, the company that hired me can roll me right into a full-time permanent position. I think I am a good fit with this new company, and my job is in Virginia Beach. But they fill positions nationwide:

www.roberthalftechnology.com. Once there you can fill out your profile and submit your resume online. They do not charge you for finding you a position, and the person assigned to your profile will even help you tailor your resume to suit the needs of the customer. All that's left is for you to do is interview for any positions they find for you.

Bougie Girl said...

I associate "niceness" with being kind of phony. Kind of like, I am being nice to you because I want you to like me. However, kindness is a more authentic state of things. I am showing kindness and it has nothing to do with an inner agenda of any type. I used to be nice to people just because it is in my genetic makeup as a Midesterner. But, it took awhile for me to show true kindness. Great post.

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