How to Be Nice Without Becoming a Pushover

by Sam on June 5, 2009

I’m a pretty nice person. Modest, too! Seriously though, being nice is something I pride myself on. I like to do things for other people, because seeing them happy makes me happy. I send cards and give presents, I draw attention to the achievements of my loved ones when they’re too shy to do it themselves. I usually have to change the channel if I’m watching something where the main character keeps getting made fun of or embarrassed.  I give compliments often, recognize those who inspire me, say thank you, and make sure the people in my life know that they are important to me. Frequent topics on this blog include friendship, appreciation, kindness, and overcoming obstacles.  I try my best to be open and honest, and I have shared some pretty personal stories because I believe others can learn from my experiences. 

People have told me that I’m too nice sometimes, and they’re probably right. But, let me make one thing clear, I am not a pushover. I don’t see the world with rose-colored glasses, and honestly, I’m not always nice. I do nice things because there is so much going on in our world that isn’t nice. Watching the evening news has become so depressing, and it’s easy to lose faith in humanity. People deserve to have some happiness in their lives, especially when they’re doing great things and making a difference. 

You may be thinking, “Wow, what a sap! People must walk all over her.”  But, you’re wrong. Yes, I admit, I’m probably too nice sometimes. I put a lot into my relationships with people, and it’s rare that my effort is fully reciprocated. I make a big deal of birthdays, but sometimes my own special day passes by with only a few phone calls from friends. I’m there for people, I listen, I give pep talks, and do my best to be supportive when someone is down. Sometimes people do the same for me, sometimes they don’t.  

Here’s the thing, I do all of these things because I want to. I do it without wanting anything in return, and without expecting it. Maybe this is weak or stupid, but I believe in the golden rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. There are too many selfish assholes in the world. And, my niceness is not without limits. There have been people who have totally taken my friendship for granted, and they are not in my life anymore. It’s one thing to never send me a birthday card or thank me for the ones I send you, but it’s quite another to tell lies about me to cover your own butt.

I’m sure there are people who visit my blog once and never come back because they think it’s too hokey, too fluffy, too nice.  That’s okay, I’m not looking to please everybody. What matters most is that this blog represents me, and the person that I am, and that I’m able to bring something to the blogosphere that people get value from reading.  I believe that this blog does represent me, but it’s certainly not all that I am.  If you want to know more, I’m always open to chat. As for bringing value to my readers, I really hope that I am, but I can’t speak for you. So please, speak to me:  

Have I written at least one thing on this blog that spoke to you? Are there things I write about too much? What about things I haven’t written about enough or at all? What makes you keep coming back to this blog, or others for that matter? Is there anything I can do to improve? (Honesty is always welcome and expected, but please be nice (fitting, I know))

I write because I love it, but the reason I write here is so I can reach people like you. Thank you for reading, I truly appreciate it!

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  • http://leavesinthespring.blogspot.com/ Bluebelle

    Sam, I love reading your thoughts. So many blogs out there (and I include my own in this!) are about people's lives and day to day stuff – yours is often about something a bit more abstract that I can relate to – your writing is fantastic, and very often inspiring! On the subject of niceness – like you I've often been labelled a pushover. I like to think I'm pretty nice and I'm definitely quite laid back – and often people think they can take advantage of that. True friends though will always appreciate you and won't take advantage. Which brings me to one of my favourite of your topics – friendship. You're very insightful and have on a couple of occasions reminded me not just to value my friends but to let them know I do. Thanks!

  • http://leavesinthespring.blogspot.com/ Bluebelle

    Sam, I love reading your thoughts. So many blogs out there (and I include my own in this!) are about people's lives and day to day stuff – yours is often about something a bit more abstract that I can relate to – your writing is fantastic, and very often inspiring!
    On the subject of niceness – like you I've often been labelled a pushover. I like to think I'm pretty nice and I'm definitely quite laid back – and often people think they can take advantage of that. True friends though will always appreciate you and won't take advantage. Which brings me to one of my favourite of your topics – friendship. You're very insightful and have on a couple of occasions reminded me not just to value my friends but to let them know I do. Thanks!

  • http://www.lifewithoutpants.com/ Matthew

    I am what I am and that's all that I am. Sam – you are you – you're nice, considerate, appreciative of others, and quick to let people know that they're valued and respected. It's not a flaw, it's a good thing. More of us should take your example to heart and show those people around us that they matter, that they're special, and that they are important to us. In blogging terms, I try to do this every day – I deeply value the opinions and feedback of others. If someone takes the time to read an entire blog post and share their thoughts, that means something to me, I'm grateful, and I want them to know that. People ask me where my success over the past few months has come from. It's a simple formula. I write about relevant topics (by doing research), I try to be interesting and conversational in my writing style, but most importantly, I value my readers, I appreciate my audience, I reply to (almost) every comment that goes through, but I go beyond that, I usually follow up and encourage the ongoing flow of conversation – and in doing so, keep people invested into a topic for longer than the initial pass through. Sometimes it's successful, sometimes it is not, but it is what it is, and it's what differentiates me from a lot of others.Don't apologize for being nice – being too nice is a good thing as long as you don't ALLOW people to walk all over you and take advantage of you. Your blog is refreshing, it's different, you maintain a level of transparency and personality that its outstanding. Keep it up – and don't doubt yourself (too much).

  • http://www.lifewithoutpants.com Matthew

    I am what I am and that's all that I am. Sam – you are you – you're nice, considerate, appreciative of others, and quick to let people know that they're valued and respected. It's not a flaw, it's a good thing. More of us should take your example to heart and show those people around us that they matter, that they're special, and that they are important to us. In blogging terms, I try to do this every day – I deeply value the opinions and feedback of others. If someone takes the time to read an entire blog post and share their thoughts, that means something to me, I'm grateful, and I want them to know that.

    People ask me where my success over the past few months has come from. It's a simple formula. I write about relevant topics (by doing research), I try to be interesting and conversational in my writing style, but most importantly, I value my readers, I appreciate my audience, I reply to (almost) every comment that goes through, but I go beyond that, I usually follow up and encourage the ongoing flow of conversation – and in doing so, keep people invested into a topic for longer than the initial pass through. Sometimes it's successful, sometimes it is not, but it is what it is, and it's what differentiates me from a lot of others.

    Don't apologize for being nice – being too nice is a good thing as long as you don't ALLOW people to walk all over you and take advantage of you. Your blog is refreshing, it's different, you maintain a level of transparency and personality that its outstanding. Keep it up – and don't doubt yourself (too much).

  • http://www.lifeschocolates.com/ sameve

    Naomi, I have to tell you that this comment made my day, thank you so much! I'm so glad that you enjoy my writing and find it inspiring. I must be doing something right :) Great insight about niceness-you're right that our true friends won't take advantage of us, and will always appreciate what we do, even if they're not always so great at showing it. I'm happy to hear that I've reminded you to tell your friends that you value them, I'd say they're lucky to have you!

  • http://www.lifeschocolates.com sameve

    Naomi, I have to tell you that this comment made my day, thank you so much! I'm so glad that you enjoy my writing and find it inspiring. I must be doing something right :)

    Great insight about niceness-you're right that our true friends won't take advantage of us, and will always appreciate what we do, even if they're not always so great at showing it. I'm happy to hear that I've reminded you to tell your friends that you value them, I'd say they're lucky to have you!

  • http://www.lifeschocolates.com/ sameve

    Matt: Wow…thank you, I'm flattered! This sounds corny, but I really look up to you as a blogger. I hope that someday people will feel as positively about my blog as they do about yours (Mr. #1 GenY!). One of the things that drew me to your blog in the first place was that you consistently write interesting content that generates great discussions. Like you, I try and reach out to everyone who takes the time to read my blog. I also respond to (almost) every comment, and I try to check out the blogs of new people when they comment for the first time. As far as being too nice, I don't apologize for it. As I said in the post, I pride myself on being nice and doing things for other people. I know how to toe the line so that I don't become a pushover. I will never willingly allow anyone to walk all over me, and if anyone does, I won't just let it slide. You say that my blog has “personality,” and I'm glad you feel that way.Thank you for your comments, and since this post is essentially about how I'm proud to be a big mushball, I also want to say: thank you for being a great friend :)

  • http://www.lifeschocolates.com sameve

    Matt: Wow…thank you, I'm flattered! This sounds corny, but I really look up to you as a blogger. I hope that someday people will feel as positively about my blog as they do about yours (Mr. #1 GenY!). One of the things that drew me to your blog in the first place was that you consistently write interesting content that generates great discussions. Like you, I try and reach out to everyone who takes the time to read my blog. I also respond to (almost) every comment, and I try to check out the blogs of new people when they comment for the first time.

    As far as being too nice, I don't apologize for it. As I said in the post, I pride myself on being nice and doing things for other people. I know how to toe the line so that I don't become a pushover. I will never willingly allow anyone to walk all over me, and if anyone does, I won't just let it slide. You say that my blog has “personality,” and I'm glad you feel that way.

    Thank you for your comments, and since this post is essentially about how I'm proud to be a big mushball, I also want to say: thank you for being a great friend :)

  • http://www.targetstarsblog.com/ LaTosha Johnson

    Sam,Keep doing what you are doing! I may not always comment, but I love your blog. You always have good quality content because your genuine–something that is extremely rare these days.

  • http://www.targetstarsblog.com/ LaTosha Johnson

    Sam,

    Keep doing what you are doing! I may not always comment, but I love your blog. You always have good quality content because your genuine–something that is extremely rare these days.

  • http://www.transparentvoices.com/ Editor

    Refreshing! I'm linking at TransparentVoices.com for others to ponder.

  • http://www.transparentvoices.com/ Editor

    Refreshing! I'm linking at TransparentVoices.com for others to ponder.

  • http://www.lifeschocolates.com/ sameve

    LaTosha: thanks for the vote of confidence, I really appreciate it!

  • http://www.lifeschocolates.com sameve

    LaTosha: thanks for the vote of confidence, I really appreciate it!

  • http://www.lifeschocolates.com/ sameve

    Wow, thank you!

  • http://www.lifeschocolates.com sameve

    Wow, thank you!

  • http://www.opheliaswebb.com/ opheliaswebb

    Yes, I most definitely come here because lots of your stuff speaks to me. Heck, I even come back here to find links for my own blog posts. Your stuff is great, and I have the most appreciation for any New England Sports fan. :) I think another thing, as one nice girl to another, is the fact that being nice makes you feel…well…nice! I too enjoy the smiles, the thank yous, the nods from doing nice things for other people. It makes me instead sad to blow people off, to think I've let someone down, and most importantly to feel like I've let myself down. I'll be the first to say, maybe it's selfish. Maybe I'm just nice because I feel downright poo-ey when I'm not. If that's being selfish, though, I wish we had a lot more of THAT kind of selfish in the world!

  • http://www.opheliaswebb.com opheliaswebb

    Yes, I most definitely come here because lots of your stuff speaks to me. Heck, I even come back here to find links for my own blog posts. Your stuff is great, and I have the most appreciation for any New England Sports fan. :)

    I think another thing, as one nice girl to another, is the fact that being nice makes you feel…well…nice! I too enjoy the smiles, the thank yous, the nods from doing nice things for other people. It makes me instead sad to blow people off, to think I've let someone down, and most importantly to feel like I've let myself down. I'll be the first to say, maybe it's selfish. Maybe I'm just nice because I feel downright poo-ey when I'm not. If that's being selfish, though, I wish we had a lot more of THAT kind of selfish in the world!

  • http://www.lifeschocolates.com/ sameve

    Elisa, thanks so much! I'm so glad my posts speak to you. I keep forgetting that you're a fellow New England fan! We'll definitely have to chat about that someday soon. I too feel sad when I blow people off, whether it is intentional or unintentional. I don't think this makes us selfish though. Sure, bringing others joy makes us happy too, but that's just an added benefit. You're right, even if that is selfish, the world would be a better place if there was more of that to go around :) Thanks for stopping by!

  • http://www.lifeschocolates.com sameve

    Elisa, thanks so much! I'm so glad my posts speak to you. I keep forgetting that you're a fellow New England fan! We'll definitely have to chat about that someday soon.

    I too feel sad when I blow people off, whether it is intentional or unintentional. I don't think this makes us selfish though. Sure, bringing others joy makes us happy too, but that's just an added benefit. You're right, even if that is selfish, the world would be a better place if there was more of that to go around :) Thanks for stopping by!

  • thankyou

    hey therethank you for writing a great blog. I hope to look at this in years to come when live feelslike a hard time and feels its never going to end. I will also try to help others and dowhat makes myself happy in return hopefully ill make others happy to. Weather it behaving faith in myself, peoples choices and religion, my family, using money for good thingssuch as charity that mean something to yourself and hope to get outthere more a make good new friends – i guess like everyone i have learn the hard way – be thankfulfor what you have and always try to help others. Thanks to you I will continue to write my ownblogs and new ways on how life can change. I hope to meet more true friends and people like yourself in the rest of my life. Take care who ever you are.

  • thankyou

    hey there

    thank you for writing a great blog. I hope to look at this in years to come when live feels
    like a hard time and feels its never going to end. I will also try to help others and do
    what makes myself happy in return hopefully ill make others happy to. Weather it be
    having faith in myself, peoples choices and religion, my family, using money for good things
    such as charity that mean something to yourself and hope to get out
    there more a make good new friends – i guess like everyone i have learn the hard way – be thankful
    for what you have and always try to help others. Thanks to you I will continue to write my own
    blogs and new ways on how life can change. I hope to meet more true friends and people like yourself
    in the rest of my life. Take care who ever you are.

  • http://www.y-rd.com/ Ellie Behling

    I totally get you. Thanks for coming out about being nice :) Do you ever think it's difficult to be a nice blogger? Not everyone on the Internet is nice because they are masked in cyberworld.

  • http://www.y-rd.com/ Ellie Behling

    I totally get you. Thanks for coming out about being nice :) Do you ever think it's difficult to be a nice blogger? Not everyone on the Internet is nice because they are masked in cyberworld.

  • http://www.lifeschocolates.com/ sameve

    Thank you! I'm glad this post inspired you, and I really appreciate your comments. “Be thankful for what you have and always try to help others,” great advice!

  • http://www.lifeschocolates.com sameve

    Thank you! I'm glad this post inspired you, and I really appreciate your comments. “Be thankful for what you have and always try to help others,” great advice!

  • http://www.lifeschocolates.com/ sameve

    Ellie, that's a very interesting question. I don't think it's difficult being a nice blogger, but sometimes I worry that my blog isn't insightful enough. Like I said in the post, I'm sure there are people who find my blog too hokey with all the appreciation and stories of friendship etc. But, as the comments on this post have shown me, I have a lot of support out there, and I am reaching people, so that makes it a lot easier. Thanks for stopping by!

  • http://www.lifeschocolates.com sameve

    Ellie, that's a very interesting question. I don't think it's difficult being a nice blogger, but sometimes I worry that my blog isn't insightful enough. Like I said in the post, I'm sure there are people who find my blog too hokey with all the appreciation and stories of friendship etc. But, as the comments on this post have shown me, I have a lot of support out there, and I am reaching people, so that makes it a lot easier. Thanks for stopping by!

  • http://www.niceturtle.com/ Nice Turtle

    NiceTurtle.com is all about being nice to EVERYONE. Join the “Nice Movement”

  • http://www.niceturtle.com/ Nice Turtle

    NiceTurtle.com is all about being nice to EVERYONE. Join the “Nice Movement”

  • http://www.niceturtle.com/ Nice Turtle

    NiceTurtle.com is all about being nice to EVERYONE. Join the “Nice Movement”

  • http://www.niceturtle.com/ Nice Turtle

    NiceTurtle.com is all about being nice to EVERYONE. Join the “Nice Movement”

  • http://www.niceturtle.com/ Nice Turtle

    NiceTurtle.com is all about being nice to EVERYONE. Join the “Nice Movement”

  • http://www.niceturtle.com/ Nice Turtle

    NiceTurtle.com is all about being nice to EVERYONE. Join the “Nice Movement”

  • http://www.niceturtle.com/ Nice Turtle

    NiceTurtle.com is all about being nice to EVERYONE. Join the “Nice Movement”

  • http://www.niceturtle.com/ Nice Turtle

    NiceTurtle.com is all about being nice to EVERYONE. Join the “Nice Movement”

  • http://www.niceturtle.com/ Nice Turtle

    NiceTurtle.com is all about being nice to EVERYONE. Join the “Nice Movement”

  • Mrs Nice Says

    Seriously enjoyed your blog. This is probably the closest thing that describes me. Sometimes I feel too nice, but I can't help it that was how I was created. But just like you, I have had to cut toxic people out of my life. You can be nice, but you don't have to be a pushover, which I have learned due to painful life lessons. Being nice is cool. If only our society had a little more in it. You don't have to be rude to make a statement or point, power and respect come with words and how you are treated as a person. Let's face it everyone loves to be around people who make them feel good and hey I want people to like me being around and I overall I haven't come around to many people that I genuinly didn't want to get to know, unless you are phony. Phony people that's a whole nother subject. So everyone just be nice, smile a little more and say hello a little more you never know you may just meet some incredible people out there.

  • Methodgirl85

    By reading your blog..you just gave me strength, I feel the same and you couldnt have said it better. I am way too nice to others cause like u said u enjoy helping others as do I . I am always there for the people i love and care about and usually don’t get the love back. Is that something to be worried about? the way i see it NOW that i have been hurt way too many times by others, i believe people tend to take advantage of nice people because they are comfortable with them and they know that person is nice. Is there a way to be nice but not get taken for granted? I don’t know how to be selfish and i always put others before myself. Is that being stupid and naive? I see the world as lucky place for all of us, we were chosen to be apart of this life, we are all here together therefore shouldn’t we help each other excel? and be the best as we can be?

  • http://www.lifeschocolates.com sameve

    Wow, thank you. Hearing that my blog gave you strength is the greatest compliment! There is a way to be nice without letting people walk all over you. It does take strength to stand up for yourself and put yourself first sometimes, but it is so worth it in the long run. Sadly, some people don’t realize how lucky we are to be alive and have all of the things we have. Kudos to you for appreciating everything in your life! Thanks for the comment!

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  • Clara

    Hello,
    You really admire me. You said that you don’t know how to be selfish. Nowadays we can’t find people like you. Don’t worry about those people that are mean to you. They are probably insecure or someone else walked on them before. One day they will be mature and realize how much of a awesome friend you are. Keep doing what YOU like. Please yourself sometimes. If it is too hard to be nice, take a break. Nobody is forcing you to be always nice. We are humans. No humans are perfect. 

  • Kathleen

    I’m trying to become a better and kinder person, and your blog just show me how. Golden Rule : Treat others as I would want to be treated. And I should be nice because I want to and I should want anything in return. Thank you so much for your blog and continue to be nice !

  • Guest

    I’m so glad I read this. I have been feeling like such a pushover lately because I stuck my ground with something and now that the other person is upset with me, I can’t get it out of my head. But I don’t think I’m that much of a pushover actually (before i read this I thought I was trying to talk myself out of being in denial that I AM a pushover haha). But I’m actually more like you. I will do so much for the people I love, but once someone starts taking advantage of me, regardless of whether I like to or not, i stand up for myself and do something about it. I stand up for myself when I need to. Thank you so much for sharing this

  • Guest

    I could relate to almost everything in your blog! I need some help though:( i have been nice to EVERYONE even those who are bullied, upset or have done bad things. But i had no idea that trying to please everyone and feeling happy by making others feel happy cud be such a bad thing:( i had to break promises which made me loose some friends. My mind felt like it was going to blow up cuz i didnt know what to do! People have used me cuz im always there for them. They never do the same back but i continue to be there for them. This one girl kept being a really bad friend to me that she brought out the beast inside of me. Im trying to forget the mean things i said but it makes me so sad because i know i was not being myself. Any advice on how to forget this and be the girl i know i am???? Thxs(:

  • A.L.

    Sam, I couldn’t agree with you more! I am nice, and perhaps too nice to be taken advantage of all the time. However, after all these years, I have come to a realization that I cannot ignore the fact that “not being reciprocated” is okay. I do hope, or even expect something in return (at the other person’s own will, of course, without me telling them how much I had already done and then asking “What have you done in return?”) I don’t seem to balance well with this “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Do you have any recommendations on how to deal with this? I want to still treat people nice because, like you said, there are so many things happening in this world which is not nice. But I don’t want to be pushed over. I don’t want to be taken advantage of. Is there some way to convey to the other party this message without being too blunt or direct? Thank you.

  • K.H.

    Thanks for the inspiration. I’m currently trying to cleanse myself and become a better person. I know I haven’t always been the nicest person and I know that I have let some people down. In trying to better myself though I have found it hard to tell when I am being too nice and letting some people walk all over me. It’s made me stop and wonder if some of the people in my life are really my friends. I have found that I really enjoy the reactions I get from my more positive attitude and I have learned to pick my battles and know when to stand up for myself. Thank You

  • Shadow

    Thanks for the inspiration. I think it’s going to help me very much.

    Sorry I’m not English.

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