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...