Nice people are often not good people and good people are often not nice people
Ernie Zelinsky, 101 Really Important Things You Already Know but keep forgetting
We live in a culture in which a nice person is considered tantamount to being good person. The result is that many nice people are mistaken for fine human beings, when in fact, they haven't earn this distinction due to their serious character defects. On the other hand, many really good people are mistaken for having serious character defects just because they aren't the nicest people around. So what makes a good person?
No doubt at times it's hard for a lot of us to differentiate between the good guys and the bad guys. A friend of mine, for instance, is not the nicest person in the eyes of his friends and acquaintances. He is direct and often upsets others by telling the truth about events, people and things. Yet my friend is one of the most generous individuals when it comes to giving money or other help to friends, panhandlers, and other people in need. Contrast this with many so called nice people who seldom go out of their way to help others- particularly those in need.
The reality that nice people often are not good people and good people often are not nice people is a major disconnect for many of us. We want everyone to be nice because this is a lot to take than having people be direct, rude, or angry with us. Fact is, niceness is a facade that many individuals lacking exemplary character use for ulterior motives. Some of the nicest- appearing people are desperate for affection of others. Certain psychiatrists and psychologists claim that behind the nice- guy facade there usually lurks considerable repressed anger- waiting to be transformed into despicable acts against others.
The core of the matter is that we have to on guard with many nice people. We can allow them to get by on charisma for only so long. After that, they better show some endearing character traits. Clearly, many people are nice so that they can distract us to take advantage of us. They will try to get in front of us in a lineup or entice us into the biggest scam the world has ever seen. People seeking to con others out of money or anything else invariably project themselves as a model of virtue. Your making a snap decision about their character based on their niceness can lead to serious consequences and disillusionment later on.
At the extreme are nice people who steal from senior citizens, commit sex crimes, or murder their relatives- not exactly the epitome of sterling character. How often have you heard others say, "He seemed so nice all the time," when describing someone who has just assaulted, or even killed someone?
Good people, on the other hand, are not nice all the time. In his renowned study of self actualized individuals, researcher and humanistic psychologist Abraham Maslow found that
Unlike nice people, self- actualized human beings can be constructively critical of others when the need is there. Because they don't pretend to be something they aren't, these goods people aren't pleasing to everyone all of the time. Although they are generally very tolerant of others, self- actualized individuals are likely to create a big scene when people engage in insincerity, dishonesty, or stupidity.
If you want to surround yourself with human beings who possess great character, who will support you in making a difference in this world, don't overlook the good people just because they aren't nice all the time. Many good people have insecurities; they get angry and they may even get dejected about life. You will have to put up with their occasional anger, impatience, and disgust because they will not tolerate lying, cheating, inconsideration, or hypocrisy. Nonetheless, their honesty, sincerity, decency, goodness, wisdom, and considerations will make you realize that you are in great company.