I had to stop being nice. Otherwise, I got spoken over and, worse, walked over. Gratitude is not about being nice all the time. “Don’t speak up unless you have something nice to say,” my mother repeated, often. Well, that doesn’t work so well in business. To get things done you have to be able to say things like “your performance is poor,” or “I disagree,” and “no.” I had to learn to say things that didn’t seem so nice. Gratitude allowed me to say those not nice things in a way that they can be heard and sometimes, appreciated and acted on.

When my nice life started to unravel, I began a practice of gratitude. I wasn’t sure where it would take me. That was about fifteen years ago when I started my own business, got divorced and stumbled through the unexpected death of my ex-husband, all while raising two boys. Slowly gratitude became a daily practice. It was the medicine that I used to heal, to learn who I was and consciously create the life I wanted. Okay, wine and friends were helpful too, but gratitude was the glue that held me together and continues to play an important part in my life every day.

I learned that gratitude is different from being nice. It’s not about pleasing others or being happy all the time. Gratitude can exist with cold hard realities like getting unstuck and moving forward in life and career. While we can see others who are stuck, sometimes it’s hard to see it in ourselves.

Here are some reasons nice folks like us get stuck:

  • Not wanting to bother or interrupt someone
  • Not thinking what we have to say is important or matters or will make a difference
  • Not wanting to upset someone
  • Fear of how the other person will react
  • Fear of what that person might think of us

Here are some examples I’ve found in my coaching practice:

  • Afraid to say no to the VP, so takes on extra work, working late and on weekends
  • Manager blaming his boss or company for not allowing him the resources to succeed
  • Superstar professional afraid to speak up even though they are right
  • Professional who doesn’t want to bother their mentor and forgoes getting help
  • A manager who doesn’t want to burden their staff and does the work themselves

If you can recognize what might be causing you to be stuck, you can change it. You can still practice gratitude, become unstuck and move forward. Don’t let the need to be nice, stop you!

Where are you stuck because you are being nice?