Please Don’t Be Nice About It…

…if people aren’t being nice to you!  In homes and workplaces around the country we have normalised behaviours which are less than helpful and sometimes downright harmful, which means we are putting ourselves in environments which don’t support our health and wellbeing.  It’s not easy to change other people’s behaviour, particularly when they’ve been behaving a certain way for many years and haven’t been challenged on it.  But just because we’re not always brave enough to challenge it, does that mean bad behaviour is acceptable? Please don’t be nice about bad behaviour if someone’s not being nice to you.

Finding The Energy to Challenge

It can take a lot of energy and courage to tackle a person’s behaviour when it’s become ingrained into their persona, embedded into the culture around you and for whatever terrible reason, deemed to be acceptable when it’s not.  Would you be the person to stick your head above the parapet and say “that’s not acceptable I’m afraid”?  Would you be held in high regard for doing that or would other people around you, who fear the person and the behaviour you’ve challenged, take the side of the perpetrator and turn you into the villain of the piece?  I’ve seen this many times in my working life and I suspect you have too.  So what do we do about it?  Is it possible to stand alone and make a change?

The reality is that on your own, you’re not likely to be able to do much to challenge behaviours which are strongly embedded and perceived as normal ☹ especially if they’re coming from someone more senior than you, in a workplace environment.  However, you can change your own behaviours in response to theirs, which can feel much more satisfying! 😊  So often, we try to be nice about things, even when people are not being nice to us and it can be very difficult in the moment to have a totally kick ass response which floors the person you’re dealing with.  Hindsight is a wonderful thing but it’s often totally useless once the moment has passed!  Sigh.

Don’t Laugh Along

But if you think about the person who is demonstrating less than fabulous behaviours towards you and your usual response to them, are there ways in which you can behave more assertively to let them know that you’re not appreciative of their responses or behaviours?  Don’t be nice to people if they’re not nice to you!  We have this British sense of being polite but it can get in the way when we need to be clear about what’s unacceptable.  I’m always polite and it’s very important to me that I am respectful to people but I’m fairly sure that people who I deem to be less than helpful are aware that I think that.  I’m not suggesting that you’re rude but a stern look and no attempt to be nice about things can go a long way to making your feelings clear.

So that’s your first step; stop being nice and laughing along when someone is clearly being a ****.  If you work somewhere really horrible you might not speak all day! 😉  But if you laugh along, you are complicit in normalising and accepting bad behaviour and that can impact on your health, wellbeing and self-esteem.  It would be easy for me to say “get yourself out of there, find another job!” but there are so many ingrained and negative behaviours around us, that you could go to almost any workplace and get a sense of someone behaving badly and not being challenged on it.  All we can do is influence our own behaviours and responses.

So stay well and make a point of supporting your own wellbeing.  Take regular breaks, get up and move around, stay hydrated and get out in the fresh air as much as you can during the working day.  Continue to do the things outside of work that you enjoy, be that running, swimming, going to the cinema or spending time with family and friends.  Keep doing those positive, enjoyable things to support your own wellbeing and self-esteem to make yourself stronger, to lessen the impact of negative behaviours when you experience them. 

Reframe Your Perspective

A person who demonstrates negative behaviours might be a bully or they might be passive or passive-aggressive in their approach.  Either way that means they have low self-esteem; they are not the strong and bullish person they can appear to be.  They are struggling and communicating or behaving in a negative way to try and cover up their perceived inadequacies.  So in a way, we should feel sorry for them, although I’m not much up for that because the behaviours they demonstrate have an impact on everyone, which is not good.  But that view of them, as a person with less than fabulous self-esteem can help you to manage your responses to them.  Either to be strong, assertive and give a stern look before you walk away or to say something like “you seem to be struggling” which can be a very disarming statement. 

Behavioural changes can be small yet effective so practice your poker face and think more consciously about the behaviours you’ll look to call out this week and this month.  Don’t be nice if people aren’t nice to you; just look at them and walk away if you can.  You can’t challenge all of the numpties at once; changing your behaviours takes a lot of energy so take them on one at a time and look after yourself well while you’re doing it.  By taking a more assertive approach you can survive in a more negative environment and be well. Long term I’d like you to be thriving though, so an exit plan is definitely worth consideration. Or, you can build the momentum of the brave and that can have an amazing impact on a negative culture. It is hard work but oh my, you will feel so proud of what you’ve achieved. Be bold, be brave and then have a little sit down. Balance is always the key 😊

Take good care please, don’t endorse what you believe to be wrong and have a great day.

Best wishes, Karen