8 ways being too nice at work can backfire

Are you too nice to your coworkers?

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Are you too nice to your coworkers?
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  • Being nice at work seems like a no brainer, right?
  • Well, if you’re too friendly, you might end up holding yourself back in the workplace.
  • Don’t ever let people take advantage of your kindness in the office.

From a young age we’re taught to play nice with others and treat people as we’d like to be treated.

As we get older, this mindset translates into how we behave at work. But is it possible to be too nice in the workplace?

Quora users discussed this question in the 2014 thread: “What are the disadvantages of being too nice to people?” As it turns out, the respondents found that there are quite a few ways that being overly friendly might be holding you back at work.

Business Insider rounded up some of the best answers to show how being too nice can backfire. To be clear, you shouldn’t stop being friendly – just don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself.


You may seem boring

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Being too nice can come across as passive and bland. “People will soon start finding you boring,” said Manish Barnwal. It’s great to be polite, but let your personality show.


People might not listen to you

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“If you find it hard to say no, people will eventually assume you mean yes even when you say no, and repeatedly pester or coax you to do something you actually don’t want to do,” said Adrija Subramanian.

Coworkers will start to see you as someone who can’t say no, and try and talk you into helping with everything – even when you have your hands full.

Quora user Borang Touch agreed, noting that you’ll start to attract the type of people who will guilt trip you when you say no to something.


People may take advantage of you

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Some people might perceive your niceness as a sign of weakness, said Christopher Kosel. This leads them to believe that you won’t stand up for yourself, so you’ll be easy to manipulate.

And once you start doing everything people ask of you, they’ll come to expect it. “They’ll just walk all over you!” said Quora user Niharika Kishore. “If once you give them the message ‘it’s okay,’ they’ll think it’s their right to do that every time.”


People might have higher expectations for you

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Once you earn a reputation for saying yes to everything, people might take it the wrong way when you stand up for yourself.

“If you decide to change, to stop the abuse, people will be disappointed if you refuse something, you will receive cries of ‘You were a good person, but you changed,'” said Glauco Becaro.

Though your refusal might be reasonable, it will appear selfish in contrast with your usual demeanor.


You may look suspicious

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Despite your positive outlook on the world, not everyone is nice all the time, and many may question whether your niceness comes with ulterior motives.

“Just as there is no such thing as a free lunch, there can not, surely, be such a thing as ‘too nice’ for no reason,” Anila Syed said. People might begin to question what you really want, even if you’re just trying to be a good person.

Being too nice might also keep you from forming true friendships with your boss and coworkers.

“You could come off as fake, which could limit your ability to form meaningful connections with those around you,” said Brian Lewis.


You might not be respected

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If you’re overly nice all the time, it becomes the only thing people see in you.

You’ll be overlooked by others because if you’re nice even when other people aren’t, you may not demand the respect you deserve, said Fulin Wang.


You may be giving up too much of your time

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“You compromise and try to do things which are in [others’] interest,” Diksha Bathula said. If you’re spending all your time focused on helping others, you’ll run out of time to concentrate on yourself and your own projects.


You’ll probably end up feeling overlooked

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“Many people are not wired to ‘sense’ needs,” wrote Quora user Will Stern. “They need to hear about them. For the overly-nice, many needs go unmet because they’re not clearly dictated.”

That could leave you feeling dissatisfied in the workplace.

“As long as you come off content-to-do-anything, you’ll never be put where you really want to be,” Stern wrote.

Emmie Martin contributed to a previous version of this article.