Be Assertively Nice

When I was approached to put together a presentation on “Break the Niceness Cycle: Assertive Communication Strategies for Women,” many thoughts flooded my mind.

I researched niceness and I found t-shirts that said:

  • Be Kind, Always
  • Spread Kindness
  • Kindness is Magic
  • In a world where you can be anything, be kind
  • You will never regret being kind
  • There is Strength in Kindness
  • Kindness is Invincible
  • Kindness is Always Cool

Okay, so what could be wrong with being nice and kind?

I then researched synonyms and found:

  • Graciousness
  • Cheerfulness
  • Good-temperedness
  • Agreeableness
  • Civility

Once again, I thought, “What can be wrong with being nice and being kind?” Then my eyes found “Sweetness.” Ah-ha. This may be the problem in the corporate world.

As he researched and wrote the book, How to Earn the Gift of Discretionary Effort, the co-author of the book, Douglas Ross, shocked me in our discussion on integrity. He said, “We are all taught to lie.”

My response was, “What do you mean? Everyone lies?”

“Yes. We all lie. We are taught to be nice.”

I had to admit he had a point. We are taught to be agreeable, pleasing, amiable pleasant, especially to strangers, even when we don’t like them or wish we were somewhere else on the planet.

Have you ever received this feedback: “You would be more effective if you were nicer.”

When you were having friend trouble in junior high school, did your mother ever say, “Sweetie, you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” Meaning of course, that you will attract more friends with niceness than with a caustic or sarcastic attitude.

I saw the problem. Niceness can connote not kindness, but passivity. It implies a lack of confidence without the ability to state opinions directly. Nice people may allow other people to set their personal agenda and accept what happens to them without an active response or resistance. They can be seen as submissive, acquiescent, or docile.

Author Bruce Reyes-Chow said: “Being nice is often about avoiding conflict, letting inappropriate actions slide, or bottling up words and actions that ought to be spoken and enacted to prevent creating an uncomfortable scene.”

This kind of niceness will not get you very far in the work world we live in.

I did have to laugh at one quote I found by author Matthew Quick. Quick said, “I’m practicing being kind instead of right.”

Now I was getting somewhere.

When you are right and/or you want to put your point across, be Assertively Nice and you will get better results than just being nice or being assertively aggressive. Learn more about how to break the “niceness cycle” by getting results by being assertive, yet kind. Register now:

Break the Niceness Cycle: Assertive Communication Strategies for Women

About the Expert

Karla Brandau is the CEO, Brandau Power Institute, and a 25-year veteran of the speaking and training industry. Her book, “How to Earn the Gift of Discretionary Effort,” positions her as a thought leader and expert in re-calibrating leadership for the 21st century. Her presentations help managers become the leader people CHOOSE to follow not HAVE to follow because of their place on the organization chart.

She has spoken for Coca-Cola Enterprises, Panasonic, BYD America, National Facilities Management and Technology Conference, US Poultry and Egg Association, the Mortgage Bankers Association, and the National Kitchen and Bath Association.  

Certifications include Certified Speaking Professional, Certified Facilitator, Registered Corporate Coach, Certified Professional Behaviors Analyst, Certified Professional Motivators Analyst, and EQi-2.0 Emotional Intelligence Facilitator.