Un-Do 2022: Stop Being Nice


This lead up to New Year’s week on the podcast we are taking a different approach to planning 2022. Because the past two years have been totally out of the ordinary and the world has at times felt upside down, it’s time to take a totally out of the ordinary and even a little bit upside down approach to thinking about 2022. 

I don’t know about you, but I can’t bear any kind of “let’s do this” kind of thinking–we’re too tired, we’ve seen too much. It’s time to un-do. Which is why this week’s theme is Un-Do 2022, and everyday I’m sharing one of five surprising strategies for a better year. You could take one, a few, or all five on as kind of anti-resolutions. 

Listen to the Podcast Here

And this week I have a co-host

My dear friend Terri Trespicio, who has a brand new and just fabulous book out called Unfollow Your Passion: How to Create a Life That Matters to You. Her Ted talk, also called Unfollow Your Passion, has had over 7 million views, so I am by no means the only one who values her way of looking at things. 

I’m having Terri on each day this week to explain one thing we could do differently, or stop doing altogether, and today’s anti-resolution is to Stop Being Nice. Does that mean you should go out and let your a-hole flag fly? Or become outright mean? Nope.

Let’s bring Terri on to talk more about it.

Terri, something you talk about in your awesome book, Unfollow your Passion, and you and I have talked about this more in person is the difference between being nice and being generous. And first off I wanna ask you, what do you mean by nice? And why is it something that we we wanna think about doing less of? Or hanging our identity on being a nice person?

I really hate nice. <laugh> if someone were, first of all, I don’t know anyone who would describe me as nice. But they would, I hope, have other better things to say. I think nice is a placeholder. Nice is what you might say about a couch. But nice in terms of behavior and people’s behavior, it’s never impressed me because it’s easy. It sometimes feels to me that nice is performative and the person who is being nice is doing it to appease or to be blameless. “Well, I mean, I was just being nice.”

So I don’t like it. I think it’s a placeholder for better things. I have found in my own life that people who are very nice, can be nice and not generous at all. Because nice doesn’t require courage. Generosity does. It means you’re going to offer something even if it could be at risk of your own loss. It means you’re gonna do something because it genuinely helps the other person. Notice the people who get the most miffed are the first ones to claim that they shouldn’t have been treated that way because they were being nice.

I’m sorry. Nice doesn’t protect you from anything and you don’t get points for it. I’d rather have someone be honest.

Right. Well, I agree. It’s a little tricky though, because I think as women in our culture, we are completely socialized to be nice. And I think that we are doing it because we think it’s the right thing to do.

Well, that’s right. And I don’t like that either. I also am not saying that the answer is to just be rude to people. I am certainly pleasant to people I run into in my building, or if I’m in the elevator. There’s a niceness to it, but I just don’t bank a lot on it. Like I just think someone who’s nice is also gonna be quick to keep score.

But I think that if you really wanna question, you know, am I doing something to be nice? And you’re right. There is a social socialized element to this. Ask yourself, why am I doing this? Or why am I being this way? I would rather be someone who puts other people at ease and lets them feel seen, lets them feel strong in my presence. I don’t feel I have to make nice.

And I say this Kate as someone, you know, who runs writing workshops where you’re not allowed to criticize anyone <laugh>. But that doesn’t mean, and I’m very quick to add that this doesn’t mean we’re just being nice to each other. I don’t know why people say like, well, why is it gonna be helpful if you just say nice things. I said, I’m not saying nice things. I’m not interested in nice. I’m interested in bearing witness to other people’s power too. But someone who’s very small minded doesn’t want to other people’s power and they want everyone to play nice so that they’re not threatened. I think if you’re really brave, you allow and make space for other people to be strong. And that’s usually one of the strongest things you can do.

We can’t undo 40, 50, 60 years of socializing to be nice. But ask yourself when you’re gonna do something nice, I knew someone who did a lot of nice things and they were very strategic and pointed. They were to position herself in a certain way. And look, we all have to do that, that’s life. But I don’t know. I just say, if you think of yourself as well, I’m just a nice person. Ask yourself, what else could I be? I just think there’s more to people than how nice they can be. I think there’s a lot more and it takes courage to show it, which is why few people do.

Amen sis.

Daily Tiny Assignment

Something Terri and I didn’t get in to is that If you are concerned about making sure that other people consider you to be nice, it means a lot of constant monitoring of how you’re being perceived, or doing things so that you will be perceived as being nice. That all takes up a LOT of energy. 

The cool thing is that when you can let go of that need to be seen as nice, you then free UP energy for doing things that are generous and courageous. And those things, while they do require effort, also GIVE you energy, because they are gratifying. 

So your tiny assignment is to stop asking yourself, “What’s the nice thing to do in this situation,” And start asking yourself “What’s the generous or courageous thing to do in this situation.” It will help you know what’s worth spending your energy on, and what’s not. 

That’s it for today! I do hope you’ll come back tomorrow when we’re talking about surprising strategy for a better year number four: Save Space for Being Bored. 

If you want to check out Terri’s book, go to unfollowyourpassion.com–she’s offering a free live book club that meets Tuesday nights in January to work through these and other ideas from the book together in real time, so if anything she said has resonated with you, I urge you to go check it out! That’s unfollowyourpassion.com.


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