A few years ago, a friend of mine told me that I was “too nice”. Simple as that. At the time I laughed it off, thinking (and hoping) that there was no negativity being expressed through the, I’ll take a guess at, compliment. However, I have always come back to ponder this ambiguous statement over the years. The sad thing is that I’m no longer close friends with the person that branded me as “too nice” (although, let me say that it wasn’t for this reason) and I doubt she’d even remember (or care) if I questioned her over the incident.
Yet, there must have been something about what was said that has really niggled at me if it has remained as a clearly etched memory in my mind. What strikes me now is that we never hear positive adjectives like “nice” put with the emphasising adverb “too” because frankly, it comes across as rather uncomplimentary and totally defeats the purpose of using the positive adjective in the first place.
Let me give some examples to prove this… Have you ever heard of an employer not taking on an job applicant because they were too talented? Or have your friends ever not invited you to a social event because according to them, you are too fun to be around? I think not, but believe me, I yearn to be the person that is too fun to be around. Doesn’t that sound great?
Through suggesting that niceness can be a bad quality in some, it seems to me that “too nice” implies that there’s a scale of naughty and nice on which we all lie- and not just at Christmas. While most people stand in the middle, others are further towards the nice side and for this, it is (apparently) only logical that they receive back-handed compliments suggesting that they need a higher percentage of naughtiness in them.
Surely in a world where it’s become undoubtedly obvious that there is a lot of evil and monstrous behaviour, being “too nice” should be a breath of fresh air. I’d love to hear this phrase used in a news feature, instead of the constant “allegations”, “nuclear threat” and “terrorist attack” that we hear now.
But alas, this incident happened years ago. Why should I be ranting about it now? Well, I’m certain that a lot of the lovely people that I’ve met through this blog will have experienced some sort of backhanded compliment in their lives. It’s like when someone used to hate you at primary school and your parents would say the inevitable phrase that was said by every other parent with a 6 year old child: “they’re just jealous”. I think jealousy has a part to play here. Niceness is a positive quality- one that you should be proud to have, and if one person doesn’t agree with that, well, you shouldn’t really be making an effort to be yourself with them anymore.