Are you in the habit of saying yes to every request, even when it’s not in your best interest? Have you ever felt like a pushover, allowing coworkers or superiors to take advantage of your kindness? It’s time to address the pitfalls of being too nice at work.
Understandably, you want to be seen as a good person in the workplace, but it’s important to remember that being too nice can also create undesirable consequences. Workplace dynamics are complicated, and sometimes what may seem like helpful behaviour might be sending subtle messages about you not taking your role seriously or not respecting yourself enough.
From taking on unnecessary extra work and unfair workloads to feeling taken advantage of and unappreciated – and even unintentionally enabling harm and bullying, the impact of being too nice can be more harmful than you think.
What Does Being “Too Nice” In the Workplace Mean?
Being “too nice” in the workplace can mean different things, but it is usually associated with the inability to establish adequate boundaries and the tendency to say yes to everything.
While being kind and accommodating are desirable qualities in the workplace, there is a fine line between being helpful and allowing yourself to be exploited.
Kindness doesn’t have to come at the expense of standing up for yourself. It’s possible to be a courteous and respectful coworker while politely declining requests that don’t fit into your existing workload or professional goals. In fact, it’s crucial that you do.
By setting clear boundaries and prioritizing your energy and time, you can avoid overcommitting and focus on the tasks that matter most. Remember, being “too nice” can have negative consequences. When you consistently take on more than you can manage comfortably, it will eventually have a negative impact on your well-being and, ultimately, your job performance.
How Being Overly-Accommodating Can Hurt Your Career
Being kind and courteous can lead to a more pleasant work environment and better relationships with colleagues, as discussed in this previous blog on micro-kindness in the workplace. However, the danger starts when you always put others’ needs above your own and fail to establish boundaries or know when to say no. This can lead to burnout and you resenting your coworkers, boss and job.
It’s important to balance being nice with standing up for yourself and managing your own workload. This can involve setting limits on your availability for extra tasks or politely declining requests that don’t align with your priorities or your bandwidth.
It becomes an issue when you give time and attention to others’ requests and then drop the ball on the tasks you’re responsible for.
Furthermore, constantly putting others’ needs before your own can create an environment where power dynamics become imbalanced. Standing up for yourself and setting boundaries shows you respect yourself and your time. Once you’ve established your boundaries with the people you work with, they’re much less likely to make unreasonable requests that challenge your boundaries. Consequently, if you’re unable or unwilling to stand up for yourself, it’s possible that others will continue to make unreasonable requests of you.
Don’t Be a People Pleaser: Set Your Boundaries
To be successful in any job, it’s essential to establish and maintain firm boundaries with your colleagues and superiors. While it can be tempting to try and please everyone, there’s a fine line between being a “team player” and a people-pleaser. Constantly saying yes to every task or request can negatively impact your job satisfaction and mental health, lead to burnout, and even be detrimental to your long-term professional growth.
Setting clear boundaries and communicating them effectively can help you maintain a healthy work-life balance and pave the way for a successful and resilient career.
One example I highly recommend is setting time limits for email responses, so, not replying to work emails between 6 pm. and 8 am. There is also something to be said for delegating tasks appropriately and speaking up when you feel uncomfortable or overwhelmed.
Learn How to Say No Without Feeling Guilty
Learning how to say no in the workplace can be incredibly difficult, especially when you want to be a team player and do your best for your employer. You naturally want to avoid disappointing others or appearing uncooperative. However, constantly saying “yes” to every request that comes your way can lead to exhaustion, burnout, and ultimately, a decrease in productivity. In other words, you can come to a point where you are contributing far less than you should or could. That’s why knowing how and when to say no is an essential skill.
Learning how to say no without feeling guilty is a skill that can be developed with practice. To do this effectively, there are a few things you can keep in mind.
Start by reframing. Saying no doesn’t mean you’re being difficult or unhelpful. In fact, it demonstrates your ability to prioritize and manage your workload. Learning to say “no” is not a sign of weakness or disrespect but a sign of maturity and self-respect. It’s an essential survival skill for any professional. It’s crucial to recognize that it’s okay to decline a request when necessary.
Be clear, polite, and concise in your communication. Remember that you’re not obligated to explain yourself, but you can offer a brief explanation if it helps. You can even offer alternative solutions but communicate that you’re prioritizing the work you’re responsible for before taking on additional responsibilities.
Take Care of Yourself and Put Your Mental Health Ahead of Work Demands
It’s easy to get caught up in a cycle of work pressure and stress, putting your wellbeing on the backburner. But by prioritizing your mental health and setting boundaries, you can establish a better balance between your work and personal life.
Did this article spark any career-related questions, plans or concerns?
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I/O Advisory Services Inc. – Building Resilient Careers and Organizations TM.