CultureSkills

Oh, the plight of being nice. Kind. Polite. Harmless. Growing up, you’ve been told to put others first and give more than you receive. And kudos to all of the nice folks out there, you’re the heart-warmer of the group. The one that people go to for validation and encouragement. The one that would rather maintain harmony than cause a scene. People of the world appreciate nice people because of their willingness to help and listen. As a self-certified nice person, I will be the first to tell you that niceness, as fulfilling and pleasant as it may be, also comes with some serious baggage. Behold, the pros and cons of being nice:

DoNicePeopleFinishLast

The nice-person quandary is a tricky one. People begin to expect a certain level of empathy and consideration at all times. Think about the co-worker who assumes you’ll always take more work, or the peer that seems to always direct their favors to you, certain that you’ll make time for them. This makes being innately compassionate a draining distinction. It’s because of this that nice people finish last, in a sense that they put everyone before themselves. While the kindness gene in your body is screaming for you to save the world, there are situations in which you’d be better off passing up or confronting. So, how can you stay true to your caring nature yet create an air of authority?

Surround yourself with people that operate with a competitive edge.

They say you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. Now this doesn’t mean you should outright ditch your core friend group, but spend more time than you usually would with people who react differently than you do. Try to examine how other people decline requests. Do they feel the need to explain why they are saying no? Are they steady in their response and apologetic only when need be? Know your boundaries when accepting opportunities to provide help. It’s also essential to command a presence that says you do more than just support, you can lead. Observe as many leadership styles as possible. Listen to how leaders at work, school, or in your community balance being assertive with being respected.

Maintain focus on your needs to succeed.

And furthermore, don’t feel guilty about it.

Nice people feel torn between serving others and tending to their own needs. If we start doing things that only benefit ourselves, we assume it’s out of selfishness. This is the nice person’s kryptonite. Realize that making yourself a priority is not selfish, but a sign of decisiveness and self-love. It is a true gift to be a thoughtful and intentional person. Keep that essence but be firm in your kindness, and never forget that being nice to yourself is a very good thing.

Image: Unsplash

Skills

People tend to not be concerned about issues that don’t ‘hit close to home’ because they feel like it’s something that could never happen to them, but even if most of us never experience war or lose our homes, it is important that we try to be a little more aware of what happens to other people around the world, even if we don’t see the relevancy of it to our lives.

Awareness is the first step, in my opinion, to understanding the kind of world we live in. Some people have the privilege of traveling to other countries to see firsthand how other people live, others can take classes about different cultures or can talk to other people who have gone places and have experienced things that they haven’t experienced. I understand that not everyone can travel to different places, but you shouldn’t have to leave your country or even your hometown to become aware of the different ways that people around you live and the kinds of things they experience.

It is possible to be a tourist in your own home. All you have to do is put on a different set of eyes and see, for the first time, instead of just looking. Many people judge homeless people because they have never had to experience not having a home or because they automatically assume that the person is homeless because of something they did to themselves. Not everyone is like this, but you may have heard a friend or a family member or someone on the subway blame people who are going through hard times for their current situations. But if they haven’t walked a mile in that person’s shoes, do they truly have the right to pass judgement?

People have the right to their own opinions, but don’t you think that the world would be a much better place if we replaced apathy with empathy? When you place the blame on someone else for their own situation, you are giving up the responsibility that you have to your neighbor. This doesn’t have to be anyone who lives in your neighborhood or even the person next door. If we all look at each other as global citizens and even, as one big family, then everyone you pass on the street is your neighbor in the loose sense of the word.

Let’s pretend for a moment that everyone looked at the world that way. From that perspective, it’s easier to see that blaming someone for their inability to get a job or to keep a roof over their heads is a way of being apathetic. When you don’t show concern for anything that is apathy and when you resort to blaming someone for something that happened to them, you are showing that you don’t care to understand this person’s predicament or even how it affects the people who love them.

It is extremely easy to be apathetic, especially if you don’t pay close attention to the news or if you don’t know what’s happening to other people around the world. You can live out your entire life without opening your eyes and still think that you can see. But once you start looking into what it’s like to wear this person’s shoes or that person’s shoes, the world becomes an entirely different place. Not only because you are aware but because that awareness can lead to understanding if you let it.

Empathy isn’t about feeling sorry for someone, it’s about sharing their feelings even if you can’t completely understand their situation. It’s about stepping outside of yourself and realizing that at the root of all of your experiences are feelings that can transcend any cultural, racial, or religious barriers that exists in our world today. You don’t have to agree with a person’s feelings or even their current situation but don’t let judgment be your first response to that disagreement. In fact, don’t let it be any of your responses. It’s impossible for us to understand what other people are going through because we don’t often take the time to try to understand.

I know that might be hard for everyone to do but empathy is not a foreign concept. We all have the ability to be empathetic; to understand and share the feelings of others. Though our experiences may differ, our emotions are all the same. There is not one emotion that is unique to any one culture, race, or religious group.

Once we all realize that, the world will slowly but surely become a better a place to live in.

Image: Chris Sardegna