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The Vice of being “Nice”

November 6, 2009

I call it “the complex approach”.

It is a set of basic rules of communication and behavior in our contemporary world. Trivial as it may seem at first glance, this unwritten code is being neglected by too many people, including my friends and associates.

Where lies the core of the concept? Why is it vital to target the global picture rather than keeping the beaten track and do only what you’re good at? It can be especially ruinous for emotional people who tend to get carried away or introverts, who lead recluse life-style.


budsUnfortunately, being a good-at-something is simply not good enough. This is a luxury one cannot afford nowadays! Positioning, networking,, self-promoting and negotiating – these skills might play a crucial role, speaking in terms of career or any other sort of personal growth and professional success.




Let’s take the very basics of negotiation. Here is a prominent example of how lack of mutual understanding and conscious escape from speaking it out, can spoil your soup and steal your job. This is a negative example, just to show you what a complex approach is not.


An acquaintance of mine, has three kids and a profitable job, which allows her to keep a nanny on a full-time position. Said nanny is a distinguished, elderly lady, whose job sums up to “keeping the kids from killing each other”. Naturally, she hasn’t heard of or signed any kind of S.O.W. agreement. Moreover, merely associating herself in any way with the word itself, as written, might have quite bewildered her 🙂

Missed step number one – defining the scope of work, duties and liabilities.

After a while, the employer (kids’ mom) started asking and adding small pleas here and there – duties that haven’t been initially included (like making the laundry and ironing). The nanny, instead of making a perspicuous argument of her liabilities and their limitation, lowered her head and obeyed, trying to be “nice”. The feeling she’s been done “unfair”, though, slowly but surely created its niche in her mind during the long days of labor, until one day she became outraged and quit the job.

Missed step number two – re-stating and re-organizing the scope of work, duties and liabilities.

Result: A “lose-lose” situation.


.red fishWhat can we learn from this matter? The employer was wrong asking to do things she shouldn’t have asked in the first place. Well, this frequently happens to fellows in charge. We’ll have to learn to live with that. First, learn to speak. Had the nanny made it clear right from the beginning, either demanding a higher payment for the extra job, or refusing doing tasks she wasn’t ready to do, she wouldn’t have lost her job now.


Expecting employers (or anyone) to act in accordance with our thoughts without stating the point is futile. They usually won’t. Unless we’re explicitly straightforward and upright.. There are other examples that demonstrate that it’s not always the “nice” vice that brings things down. Unwise, reckless turns may come from the opposite direction, and end up in the same pond. My friends’ cleaning lady is a high professional in her field. But she is never returning calls from her customers. My friends say, she can be two hours late without letting them know. She can simply stand them up and decide she’s doing the broom dance on the following day. She takes no interest in establishing any sort of professional reputation in the cycle of her potential clients. As a result, despite of her being a profi charwoman, she’s at risk of being denied.


pennies and a flowerTaking life in a ‘sterile’ way, like these ladies and thousands more do, will always keep them one step behind. Some hate the “administrative” part, some can’t stand any sort of confrontation, even when being openly abused, some disregard the basic rules of politeness. If not in the very present, it will get them on the rebound this way or another. Directness and vigilance blended with subtle tact and courtesy prove to be a strinkingly killing combination. In all life shperes.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 8, 2009 2:45 am

    Great post that sums up so much of what makes daily life frustrating–people acting like the fish in the picture–with three second memories and unable to see beyond the end of their little tank.

  2. ostrix permalink*
    November 9, 2009 7:14 am

    Your positive words are a balm for a beginning writer ))) Yes, one of the reasons I picked up the subject, is that it has always perplexed me to watch these professionals who are strictly limited to their own field, and miss the core element of communication.

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