I never thought it was possible to be “too nice” … until now.
I’m the girl that gives everyone the benefit of the doubt. I try to find the good in every body, and I give chance after chance after chance for a person to do the right thing and show me respect in return. I don’t think it’s too much to ask for someone to be nice to me just as I am nice to them, but the thing I’m learning is that not everyone plays by these rules. Instead, they seem to prey on nice people. When you are “too nice,” people view this as a weakness instead of one of the greatest strengths! It seems that the nicer you are, the more people want to take advantage of you.
I have been in numerous situations throughout my life where I give so much of myself, and instead of appreciating me, they use my niceness against me. They begin to push me to give more of myself and more to them. Pretty soon, they are trying to push me around. I am at fault because I allow it to a certain degree before I’ll finally get enough and put a stop to it.
I’ve worked with employers and supervisors that started out fine, but they soon realized that the more they asked of me, the more I’d willingly give. Then, instead of appreciating that I was a hard worker, they put more pressure on me and started asking things of me that they were not asking of other employees. I knew I was being paid to do a job, but resentment started building when I was carrying the workload of three people while slackers in the office bragged about how lazy they were to anyone that would listen. It seemed that the more efficient I was, the more work they threw at me. I didn’t get a “thank you” for a job well done, all I received was more work piled on me while the slackers continued to do what they do best; slack off. I worked there for many years, and finally I left because I was clearly being taken advantage of. You know what’s funny? When I left, they hired two more people to do the job that I was doing, so I was not exaggerating when I said I was doing the work of three people.
Recently, I had a situation where I was paying someone for a service. It started out great, but as time went by, this person started disrespecting me in the way that they would speak to me. It wasn’t the same type of situation as above, as I was not piling any work on them. They were willingly doing this service for my family, and they set their own schedule and their own price. I was as easy going as I could be, but apparently, I was “too nice” to the point that they thought they could disrespect me, talk down to me, etc. because that is what they started doing. It wasn’t a one time thing, either. It was something that happened every single time we had any interaction, whether it was in person or through text messages or private messages. It seemed that this person really thought they were the authority figure on everything (also known as a “know it all”). They came across in such a way that they really were talking down to me every chance they got. It is hard for me to understand why someone would do that to another. I could see if I went up against this person constantly, but I did not. If this person said they needed for us to get supplies, we went right away to get them. If the person said it would be best to do it this way, we did it that way. We were as cooperative as we could possibly be and listened to them as they were the expert in this field, and we, merely beginners. However, just because we were beginners did not mean that we did not deserve respect. We did, and we do. I felt this person lacked respect for me, though, and it was obvious in the way that they spoke to me as they did not speak to my husband this way. He was not able to be present for all of our exchanges, though, and so the disrespect continued to increase because they knew they were primarily dealing with me.
When this first started happening, I tried to reason it away in my mind. Maybe this person didn’t realize how they were coming across, or maybe they didn’t mean it the way it sounded. I gave them the benefit of the doubt. Then it happened again. Each time it happened, though, it was more obvious to me that they did intend every bit of the way it came across and how it sounded. They intended to let me know that they were the authority and they were in charge. The thing is, I was paying them, and the services were at my house. So, this person was on MY property disrespecting ME, and I was paying them to do so!
Yea, that did NOT sit well with me at all.
I thought things would get better if we just stopped texting and sending private messages, as you cannot tell a person’s true tone with words on a computer screen although they seemed argumentative in every single one of their messages to me. However, it was not any better when I’d speak to them in person.
This is where I struggle because we’re taught as Christians to turn the other cheek. We’re taught to rise above and treat people the way we would want to be treated. We’re taught to forgive, but in doing so, are you to continue to put yourself in the line of fire? Here is the problem I am having. If someone continues to do this to you, if every interaction with them is laced with disrespect toward you, or if someone is bullying you, are you to continue to accept this treatment? I do not think that God intends for us to continue in the line of fire all because we’re Christians and ultimately, “too nice” to the point that people take advantage of us. Yes, I can turn the other cheek … but exactly how many times must I turn it for them to slap the other cheek after they’ve already reddened this one? Yes, I can rise above the situation and treat the person as I’d want to be treated, but because I’m “too nice” again they view it as me being a push over because they continue to mistreat me and yet here I am not only allowing it but making it easier for them to show me more disrespect because I haven’t stood up to them! Instead, I’m almost enabling them by allowing the mistreatment by being super nice to them when that is actually the way I’d like to be treated by them … but it will never happen! And Yes, I can forgive, but again, forgiving does not mean that I have to allow this behavior to continue! Even as Christians, we have the right to be respected and to be treated with respect!
I’ve had people tell me that I lack boundaries, and that is why this type of thing occurs. No, I don’t think that is the problem because I can put boundaries in place with people and often do when they continue to treat me this way. I will either quit the job and move on to a much better place of employment where they treat me better and value me as an employee in an environment that is stress-free (thank God for that), or I will dismiss the person that was performing a service for me if I’m paying them well and doing everything they ask of me and yet they disrespect me and continue to treat me in this fashion. I can put boundaries in place, but my point in this is that if people would just respect you and show that respect, those boundaries would not be needed in the first place. Why, then, is it so hard for people to show respect to each other? It truly isn’t that hard to do. I understand that respect has to be earned. But, I have done nothing for the person to disrespect me. I have paid on time for their services, often tipping them as well. So, it’s not as if they aren’t getting paid and paid well, too, I might add. It isn’t that I’m working them too hard or expecting too much of them either, as they set their own time, hours, and duties pretty much. I don’t stand over them or ask more of them than is expected either.
Often times it seems as if people view “nice” people as weak individuals. Why is niceness perceived as a weakness? It is one of the biggest strengths a person has, and honestly the world would be a better place if we HAD more nice people around! It would be wonderful, though, if others would not take advantage of a nice person.
If any readers out there have advice on how to be nice and yet not be taken advantage of, or how to remain nice and not be talked down to, I’d love to hear your thoughts. I’ve had people tell me to my face that I’m “too nice” and so, I read a book on the topic as well. It was more along the lines of learning to say “no” to people … that’s not my problem, though. I can say no. I read another book for Christians, but this one was more for setting boundaries and how it was okay for Christians to do so. However, boundaries aren’t the issue as I can set boundaries. The problem is when people view my niceness as a weakness, and I’m not sure what I’m doing to come across in this way to others.
I still say that if people would just have respect for others, there wouldn’t be an issue of the “nice” person asking where they went wrong for someone to mistreat them, talk down to them, etc. The nice person would not walk away feeling taken advantage of or as if they had little value in this world. They would not feel highly disrespected, either!
Respect … it’s not so hard to give to another! Yes, even to a person that is “too nice.”