A long time ago (or maybe not so long), it was beyond my understanding how being a nice guy can be a bad thing. I thought that the nicer you were the better results you got: in your relationships, your career and your life as a whole.
Then I learned about the nice guy syndrome and I embarked in one of the most electrifying personal development journeys in my life. If you tend to give a lot more than you get in your relationships with others, it’s a journey you may wanna consider.
What Is the Nice Guy Syndrome?
The nice guy syndrome refers to a behavioral pattern in some men of being very nice to others.
The typical nice guy puts other people’s needs first, always helps others, avoids confrontation, does chivalrous things, and is proud of it. His nice behavior is particularly obvious with women.
The nice guy syndrome has been getting increasingly more attention in the past few years in psychology, as the less than satisfying effects it creates make it start to lose its positive image.
What’s Wrong with Being a Nice Guy?
Quite a lot is wrong with being a nice guy as matter of fact. As a communication coach, I often work with men who I soon realize have the nice guy syndrome.
As a result of this syndrome, they have mediocre careers compared with how skilled they are and how hard they work, they are in toxic relationships, or they sabotage almost every aspect of their lives. I have seen such effects so often that for me, they became highly predictable.
Nice guy behavior may look good on paper, but in reality it has a pretty ugly face. In order to grasp this, consider that the nice guy syndrome fundamentally means people pleasing behavior. As a consequence:
- Nice guys come off as needy and insecure;
- Nice guys are generic and predictable, so it’s hard for them to create a spark;
- Nice guys end up ignoring their own needs and not taking care of themselves;
- Nice guys end up not being there for the people who really matter, because they try to please everybody;
- Nice guys are full of repressed rage and they tend to erupt at the most inappropriate times;
- Nice guys lie, hide and they try to get what they want in indirect, manipulative ways.
From there, all hell breaks loose.
The Nice Guy Paradigm
The leading authority on this topic is Dr. Robert Glover, a therapist who specializes in working with men with the nice guy syndrome, and author of the best-selling self-help book for men No More Mr. Nice Guy.
According to Dr. Glover, all nice guys operate (consciously or not) on the same basic paradigm:
If I can hide my flaws and become what I think others want me to be then I will be loved, get my needs met, and have a problem-free life.
Of course, this paradigm is unrealistic and ineffective, not to mention a pile of crap.
The point is not to turn into an asshole. Being kind and polite to others has its place. However, nice guys tend to take this too far and they make being nice and getting approval the compass of their social behavior.
Having been both a nice guy and (mostly for research purposes) a jerk, I can tell you that in my experience, none of these are healthy behaviors and there is a path in-between which creates much better results.
Overcoming the Nice Guy Syndrome
As an ex-nice guy and a coach who also works with nice guys (and girls), I came to believe that there are three essential stages in overcoming the nice guy syndrome:
Step 1: Realizing and accepting the fact that being a nice guy may sound noble and some people may compliment you for it but overall, it is not a healthy or productive way of being. The concept is flawed. For many men, this step is the hardest.
Step 2: Creating a deep paradigm shift. Even after you realize being nice does not work, the nice guy paradigm will still exist in your cognitive schemas, from where it influences your automatic thinking and disempowers you. You’ll need to consciously change your thinking and weed it out of there.
Step 3: Being less nice. This step involves changing your behavior, developing key people skills and turning it into a less nice one. Specific actions may include:
- Expressing yourself more, even when you may upset someone;
- Asking for what you want and saying ‘no’ to others;
- Taking more time for yourself and taking care of your own needs;
- Ending toxic relationships which go nowhere.
The earlier you start, the faster your will enjoy the benefits of being a less nice guy. So take that nice guy smile off your face and go kick some ass!
Image courtesy of micsalac