“I’m Just Too Nice: The Truth About Passive Behavior

People often tell me, “My problem is that I’m just too nice! That’s why I get hurt a lot.” But what they perceive as a case of terminal politeness, I see as an issue of passive behavior. Don’t misunderstand: most of these people truly are nice. But those who are yes people, who don’ t disagree for fear of upsetting the other party, the keep-the-peace-at-all-costs people are not acting out from a place of virtue. They are, in fact, dealing with issues of fear and insecurity. Do any of the following behaviors apply to you:

Are you concerned about how others may feel should you speak honestly to them about something you don’t like about them?

Do you say “yes” when you really want to say “no” but do so out of obligation?

Are you often overlooked, taken advantage of, used, mistreated, abused or easily manipulated?

Do you have a hard time standing up for yourself if you feel you are being treated unfairly?

Does the thought of someone being angry with you or thinking unfavorably about you because you voiced opposition to their way of thinking cause you concern?

Do you believe that nice people don’t get angry and if you express anger you might be labeled a B*?

While your agreeable persona may give the appearance of one who is easy-going and kind-hearted, take a closer look. More likely you will discover some insecurities that prohibit you from being truthful with others. “If I say no to them, will they/I think I’m selfish?” “If I tell my mother I’m not coming over every Sunday for dinner, will she try to make me feel guilty?” “I’m the only Republican in my family. Others will give me a hard time if I share my opposing view about politics. And that will really embarrass me.”

All of these behaviors are rooted in fear. No, not the terror-filled, heart attack-inducing, crippling horror that paralyzes people. I’m taking about worry, anxiety, concern. These are all levels and degrees of fear. And fear is directly related to how one feels about themselves. Those who are comfortable with who they are, who do not seek the approval of others nor define their worth by what others think of them are more apt to voice their feelings and opinions and let the chips fall where they may. They are fully confident that they can handle dissension and are not threatened by a good challenge. Even if the other party becomes angry with them or is vehemently opposed to their opinions and beliefs, they are comfortable maintaining their position.

Stay nice. But work on your self-esteem and confidence. Be strong. Stand up for what you believe in. Learn to say “no” when necessary. The world will go on.

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