“Nice people with common sense do not make interesting characters. They only make good former spouses.” – Isabel Allende

I am a nice person, I think. I am respectful, hardly ever raise my voice (except with my children – children have a way of testing your patience, you know?) and I am a peace-loving person. I wear a smile a lot of the times (I believe in letting age do its work naturally without aiding it with scowls and frowns!) and only ruffle a few feathers when it’s absolutely unavoidable. I am a nice person (I said that already). So what?

The above quote by Isabel Allende isn’t from anything I read today; rather it’s from her 2007 TedTalk titled Tales of Passion that popped up as my recommended talk for the week. Allende is very engaging and incorporates humor in her speech in a manner that made me think “when I grow up I want to be like her”. But those two lines made me pause and wonder, “What’s wrong with being nice?”

You’ve all heard the clichés: “Nice guys finish last” and its contra “Bad boys get all the girls”. There’s even a book that is sitting pretty on my shelf almost two years on: Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office: 101 Unconscious Mistakes Women Make That Sabotage Their Careers by Lois P. Frankel – I just did not like it. The tacky title aside, the few pages I gleaned felt like the advice was one has to fake it to make it. Maybe we should change the corner office rather than change women to fit in. I might be convinced one of these days to finish reading it but for now I am with Robin Sharma on Leading Without a Title.

Where was I going with all these? I remember – “What’s wrong with being nice?” “Why has Mr Nice Guy, in particular, received such a bashing?” Nice people are friendly, pleasant, gentle, compassionate, sensitive, kind, the opposite of a “jerk”, a term used to describe a mean, selfish and uncaring person. Add common sense to the niceness and you have the making of a good, decent human being. A good parent. A good spouse. A good leader. Why would Allende say such people only make good former spouses? Or did I take her joke too far? Maybe I “overthought” the idea, as I am told I am wont to do.

Indulge me for a moment. A person who cannot handle their nice spouse may have deep-rooted problems that need “a-shrinking.” Unresolved past hurts? Trust issues? Feelings of inadequacy, undeserving, low self-esteem? I am no psychologist so let me not dive into uncharted waters. What do you think? What’s wrong with being nice? Google gives me almost 2.3 billion results. Help me narrow it down.


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