Are you too nice? News Flash: it’s not actually helping.
How can being too nice be a bad thing? Great question and lets talk about it. Imagine there’s a range of agreeableness and disagreeableness. On one side of the scale, the agreeable (nice) person has a lot of qualities that look like empathy, compassion and my favorite; compliant.
The most disagreeable 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 The most agreeable
Where do you think you land on this scale? I’ve managed to get myself to around a 6 from an 8 and I’m working on getting even lower. Why? Because there are some negative consequences to being on the 10 side that I’m just not willing to dance with, anymore. Agreeable persons are often easily manipulated and pushed around. Why? Because they’re not that good at standing up for themselves! This is often reflected in how much we make in our jobs. If you very much dislike negotiating your salary, you may be an agreeable person – and you won’t be paid what you think you’re really worth. Another downside is that this type us 'agreeable' types KNOW deep down we're not being treated fairly. The years of swallowing the short end of the stick eventually leads to a lot of resentment. I'm not just talking about money, either; I'm talking about doing nice things, taking the fall for others, keeping your mouth shut when you know you're in the right in order to maintain compliance and/or 'be nice'. For you ‘agreeable’ types, have you ever thought, “I do so much for them – why aren’t they doing as much for me?” Think about it for a second…do you do more for other people than they do for you? If you’re agreeable you may have had others tell you something like, “it’s time to grow a backbone” or “stop being a doormat”. The more on the agreeable scale, the more people are likely to become the Gazelle’s (or prey) in life vs someone who’s less agreeable. There are a lot of gazelles in the wild – and they feed a lot of other animals. Do you really want to be a Gazelle?
If you’re more on the disagreeable side you are likely good at negotiating your salary (yay! You’ll make more money) but this goes beyond money – they also have better boundaries around how others treat them! They don’t get manipulated or walked on nearly as often because they have more practice saying 'no'. But Jed, I don’t want to be heartless! No worries - being disagreeable doesn’t mean you lack empathy or compassion. It means you’ve established boundaries around your compassion and empathy. Remember, though – this is a scale. I imagine that people that are a 1 out of 10 in disagreeableness, have much less feelings of compassion and empathy than someone that’s a 4 out of 10.
If you’re too far on the disagreeable scale, you’re likely to end up in prison. Sorry. It’s also one of the main attributes of being ‘anti-social’ which DOESN’T mean you don’t like being ‘social’ – it means that you are very selfish and use society for yourself with less consideration for other people’s feelings which is an ‘anti-social’ trait.
Where are you on the scale? The great news is that – with awareness – you can change your number! If you’re too far on the agreeable side, it’s TIME TO STOP being a doormat. It’s time to grow a backbone by placing boundaries around your empathy and compassion for others. Remember, agreeableness is basically just compliance. It’s not actually ‘nice’. Showing true kindness sometimes means saying ‘no’ and putting yourself first.
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Till next time - Awareness up,
Jed Thorpe, CMHC
Have you ever known someone that knew everything or was never wrong? You’re not the only one. In my field, this often gets pinned on someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. This behavior can be associated with male or female (men are better at it) and is so prevalent that Phil Collins wrote a song while he played in the band, “Genesis” called ‘that’s all’. It’s a whiny victim song about how he can’t leave even when he’s wrong about everything he thought was right – even down to the other person telling him “it’s black when he knows that it’s white! It’s always the same, it’s just a shame, that’s all.”
If you pay attention to the words in the music, you'll soon notice that this issue of people HAVING to be right pops up all over the place. The band “Disturbed” actually has a song called ‘Never Wrong’. “You’re never ever wrong, always something more to say, you’re never wrong.” Fortunately, the lead singer ‘David Draiman’ has more backbone than Cill Phollins and by the end of the song, finds resolution by saying, “I’m not willing to deal with someone who insists that they can never be wrong, So just keep on talking to the wall because I’m walking away.”
None of this victimy/whiny “I could leave but I won’t go”crap.
Ok! Back on topic - let’s find out what to look for in a potential ‘narcissist’.
In reality, narcissism is not as fun as it looks. They may seem to have things figured out, but that portrayed confidence is a just a mask to hide a well-established internalized belief that they are not good enough. The extreme avoidance of being vulnerable (trust issues) along with a deep-seated belief that they are not good enough result in a seemingly impenetrable defense around feeling negative emotions or being genuine. If the brains main job is to keep us from feeling bad – you’ve really got to give a hand to the narcissistic brain.
It’s EASY to condemn anyone who carries the above trait list. Hopefully, understanding more about this disorder will make way for more empathy.
Thanks for reading and remember, comments are welcome.
Till next time, awareness up.
Jed Thorpe, CMHC
Let’s talk about the very VERY old ritual of ‘the hand shake’. Back in the days of knights in shining armor, people shook hands to see if the other person was in possession of a weapon. Yup, shaking hands was a way to frisk someone. I guess that’s how dangerous meeting new people was back in the day! Today, shaking hands is used when greeting someone or even when your parting ways with someone you have a connection with.
This behavior might even be in our genetic coding – chimpanzees give each other fist bumps when they reunite as a show of respect (they also kiss and hug). Don’t try to fist bump, hug or kiss a chimpanzee because they can rip your arms off if they want to.
Ok, back on topic. Shaking hands is HUGE in our culture and can make or break life changing opportunities...so lets talk about how to do it right.
The biggest mistake I see others make happens with the initiation of the shake. People neglect to maintain EYE CONTACT. For the love, KEEP EYE CONTACT. I know, I know, it’s risky because you might completely miss hands but don’t fall for the temptation to look down. Keep eye contact. By doing this, you send the unspoken message of being secure – of being confident.
Next, tend to your grip. It needs to be firm. Not CRUSHING the other persons hand bones, but firm. Doing this sends the message that you are capable and can ‘hand’le yourself…pun intended. Should you choose to decimate the other persons hand, the message is that you’re a being aggressive or over-confident – cocky.
Third, if someone offering a handshake and you happen to be sitting down – STAND UP. For the love, stand up and THEN shake their hand. This signals that you respect them enough to out of your way (simply by standing up). It also sends the message that you’re not lazy and you think enough of yourself to rise to the occasion verses acknowledging someone who’s towering over you.
But Jed, what do I do if I don’t want to shake someone’s hand? Great question – shaking hands is a bid to connect. There’s even a ‘connection’ chemical called ‘oxytocin’ that is released in the brain when we have the physical contact/connection of shaking hands. That said, if you don’t respect the other person – or don’t want to connect with them – you don’t have to. Unless you want to check them for weapons.
As always, thanks for supporting this grass roots insight for the masses effort and if you found this to be good info – share it.
Till next time,
Jed Thorpe, CMHC