The Cult of Nice
Being nice isn't the same thing as being positive and helpful. Trust me.
Penned 2 years ago.
It was 80°F in San Diego, CA and the sky was clear.
Fast Car by Tracy Chapman was playing.
Just a quick one for today!
As more people have begun talking about the kerfuffle that happened two weeks ago, I have seen some of the same subjects come up again and again. The one I would like to focus on today is being "positive" or "helpful".
Now on the face of things I have nothing to say other than, Yeah, right on. The goal of any interaction between to people should be helpful, constructive and positive.
The problem of course is that if you keep listening to them, you realize what they actually mean is that people should be "nice".
There are few things I hate more than people being "nice". There exists in this country a cult that too many people have pledged their lives to, and it is The Cult of Being Nice.
Look, I'm not talking about political correctness, or any of that crap. That falls under decency, and yes, everyone should be decent. I'm taking about the idea that if you aren't nice when interacting with someone, you've done something wrong.
Nice is contrived, nice is fake. Nice is an act.
Being genuine requires that you be genuine. If you are being critical of someones work, be critical, be constructive, be positive, but don't be nice.
This idea that you have to treat designers with kid gloves to avoid bruising our egos is absurd and perpetuates a stereotype that we should be working hard to dispel, not reinforce.
So, you might be asking yourself:
"If I don't focus on being nice, what can I focus on so that my interactions with people are positive, constructive and helpful?"
That is a great question. You should focus on being compassionate. Compassion is the most powerful, transformative tool in your communication arsenal.
Compassion is real, it's meaningful and it's hard. It requires empathy for the other person, understanding of your own emotional state and a willingness to work.
From what I have experienced and seen, most people don't want to do the work of being genuine and compassionate. They would rather hide behind a mask of 'being nice' and nothing gets better.
You can also find this in my Medium Publication Silly Missives.
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