I'm pretty nice. I like to meet people and am usually the first person to introduce myself and others I've experienced mean girls but definitely wasn't ever one of them. Before quite recently, however, it was a different kind of nice. Before it was the kind of nice that is exceedingly polite; that pleases people. This is commonly known where I am from as "Minnesota Nice." Last fall, to the mix of my already full life, I added the start up of CleverKate. Through a flurry of first-time client coffees and partnership lunches, networking events, and meetings to set up all the systems you need to run a successful business I would estimate that I've met as many as 500 new people in six months. That's a nice little case study! By my casual but careful (and sometimes startling) observation, I have learned (quickly) that Minnesota nice simply isn't sustainable in my adult life. And, that it's actually exhausting. So, I did a little simple math to subtract this inauthentic nice from the equation. I have this saying that I use a lot, a motto of sorts, that goes like this: be honest but not unkind.
When approached with a difficult question or situation, I try to take a moment and think before answering or reacting, then do so with the person's feelings in mind. It got me thinking that it is kind of out of my control, and sometimes, you can't help what will seem unkind. It's not possible to gauge how people will react, but it is possible to be thoughtful and to take the time to assess the situation, surroundings, and consider the person you're talking to before you blurt out something hurtful.
Armed with my admittedly casual but helpful case study and my values intact (not to mention my grown-up pants), I've slowly grown out of being this (over) polite kind of nice. People have noticed the adjustment, sometimes uncomfortably. But the thing is: I'm proud of it. I'll tell you why. While I am still working on the right balance (suspect I always will be), I'm happier than I've ever been. I'm in the moment and people have noticed that too. I'm being rewarded for this change I've made with closer and more genuine relationships with friends and family, clients that better fit my goals and spirit, and reinforcement that I'm doing things well from the feedback I receive. I'm surrounded by people who know who I am, where I'm coming from, and what I stand for. People who stand up for me.
I hope you'll help me and others by sharing what you know about this delicate subject of being nice.