I will warn you right here. This ain’t no happy go lucky narrative. It’s a bit downtrodden. You have been warned. Carry on.
As I grew in the ranks at work, I took my lumps on the chin and I fought many good honorable fights for the soul and integrity of our work. Yet, one key lesson passed onto me that I, in return, passed on was “when venom is thrown at you, just put on a smile and be nice.” Such a sentiment may sound to be the equivalent of turning the other cheek (which many perceive as noble) but it clearly is not. Indeed, the act of killing them with kindness is a pervasive disease nowadays.
Being nice is a weapon used to disarm your so-called opponent. I do not mean the fake compliments that often drive political debates. I mean putting on a “nice” mask so that no one really knows who you are or what you are thinking about.
I recall an incident where a colleague had a break down of sorts in the workplace. He was upset at another individual in the office who had just raised her voice at him. He just couldn’t shake off being yelled at. Especially being yelled at by the ostensibly nicest person in the office. Thereafter, I spoke with the “nice” girl and she went and apologized. After which she then came and told me she was not wrong but still apologized because it didn’t matter. Her apology was only words and had no bearing on her. She just apologized to shut the person up and she advised me that no matter what I think I should just apologize in any situation because you can get what you want thereafter. It was a very machiavellian perspective that I saw implemented many times in the coming years. I saw a whole other side that day and attained a new understanding to her niceness. I witnessed countless faux hugs, compliments and laughter. What saddens me is that people buy into those fake acts. At times, it seems that people want to be fooled. They want the shiny veneer. No wonder people can be hypnotized by following a shiny object.
On another occasion another colleague, that everyone respected as someone having integrity, filled me on on a secret. When he bought the team pizza for a meeting it was not because the team deserved some sustenance considering how hard they had worked. No, instead that person bought pizza “so that their mouths would be full and they wouldn’t be able to talk back.” He just wanted to shut their traps up. Makes me see brown bag lunches in a whole other light. Do you really care to argue a point when you are hungry and have some yummy food in front of you. You sit, listen and chew and don’t talk back.
Am I wrong for thinking that being nice is a ruse used by many in power? These individuals and many more appear to everyone else as genuinely nice people. The “nice” facade carries weight and lulls other into compliance or less pushback and resistance.
Beware of the shiny objects laid before you. They probably have a rusty thorn beneath.
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