It’s suspect to work with someone who is too nice.

I worked with someone like this. She wanted to be everyone’s best friend. To her own detriment she avoided sharing her opinion. Yeah, she was difficult to work with.

You might be thinking what could be wrong with being nice? It is a fair question.

Being nice in of itself isn’t wrong but when people hold back their ideas and opinions it can make working with them difficult. Brinkman and Kirschner describe the behavior as “less assertive as you put their [others] needs above your own” in their book Dealing with People You Can’t Stand (p.19). Here are three types of people like this:

NOTHING person who gives limited verbal and nonverbal feedback.

YES person who tells you what they think you want to hear.  

MAYBE person who doesn’t commit one way or the other.  

Deep down these people are just trying to go along to get along. Stop being suspicious of them by making it easier for them to be honest. Try these tips:

  • Open your conversation with a warm and sensitive approach.
  • Let them know you want honesty above anything.
  • Show them you have a genuine desire to know what they think or feel.
  • Be calm and relaxed.
  • Use your intuition to see the world through their eyes.
  • Give them permission to tell you No.

The next time your gut tells you that someone has something more to say, ask yourself if you’ve created a safe enough space for them to do it. If you think you have, take one more step to make it safer for them.