Office Rules for Nice Guys (and Gals)

Ever heard the expression “nice guys finish last”, well there is a bit of truth to it but I prefer to believe that actually its “ naïve guys finish last”. There is being nice and then there is being taken advantage of. You have to know the difference and know exactly what is happening to you and around you.

An interesting tidbit you might not know if you look up previous meaning of the word nice and this is what you will find that it used to mean this in the thirteenth century:

“Foolish, stupid, senseless,” from Old French nice (12c.) “Careless, clumsy; weak; poor, needy; simple, stupid, silly, foolish,” from Latin nescius “ignorant, unaware,” literally “not-knowing,” from ne- “not” (see un-) + stem of scire “to know”

Here are some rules for you to implement to stop being your co-workers’ pushpin.

  1. Stop being a people pleaser- first word you need to learn is No! Small yet powerful word. You do not have to do everything.
  1. Get your work done-you are there to do a job make sure it gets done first, no one should be getting your assistance to get their projects done when you have deadlines to meet.

P.s- to my knowledge I haven’t seen nice on a job description as well as any performance appraisals.

3.  Not asking is not being impolite- you are not the office delivery man

  1. Get away from your desk
  1. Time- People need to know that your time is important; when you are always available, always able to chat your time isn’t important to them. You are more likely to get an out of office message from them when you want to chat. Do not be accessible at all times. (I know I will get flack for this one)
  1. Repression Syndrome- Nice guys/gals are not always transparent or vulnerable, sometimes they are afraid to hurt fellow co-workers’ feelings.  However, you have ever right to say what you want to, as they say the truth will set you free. You do not have to agree with everyone or everything, of course be tactful and polite (some things will sound mean regardless) but things like tone and facial expressions can help or hurt communication.

I didn’t say become stoic or change your attitude but your niceness can be a hindrance to not only your productivity but also your image. The thing is either way you start is what those around you come to expect. It’s very hard to break what people expect from you especially when you have been consistently one way, good or bad.

This is not a stand to become a jerk or saying that being nice isn’t a great thing. The fact is nice can been taken advantage of and you need to watch out for those pitfalls. There is being a jerk and then there is standing up for you. All changes will take time for those around you to get used to, they simply need time to change their expectations of you, so start setting your boundaries now and avoid a longer learning curve for your co-workers. You’ll both appreciate it!


This change of habit is for you; do not expect a standing ovation once people are forced to deal with the new you!

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Oliver Crocco says:

    Based on those earlier definitions, I suppose this isn’t a very “nice” post! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Sarah Watt says:

    Informative post. Thanks for sharing.

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