When Being Good and Being Nice Are at Odds
Chatter and lockers slamming could be heard in the hallways during passing time. Some teens scurried into their designated classes only seconds before the bell rung, while others made their way into the cafeteria for lunch. Nicole, Sasha, and Melissa were friends and all had the same lunch period, and English class that followed. Nicole was already seated, eating her sandwich and bag of Doritos when Sasha and Melissa came to sit next to her.
Sasha, “Hey, did y’all do Ms. Black’s assignment on Macbeth?”
Nicole replied first, “Yeah, I did it. It took me forever!”
Melissa chimed in, “I did it, too, but I made up some of my answers towards the end.”
Sasha goes on to say, “I went out with Greg, so I didn’t have time to do it. Let me see what you guys have.”
“And risk flunking for cheating? No, ma’am. I worked hard on that. Besides, it’s open-ended questions, Sasha,” Nicole told her.
Sasha rolled her eyes, “Whatever,” then directed her gaze at Melissa. “Melissa, can I see yours?”
Melissa took her binder out of her bag, and readily handed Sasha her work to copy.
As the years, passed Sasha, Melissa, and Nicole maintained their friendship into their college years. However, quite naturally, Sasha and Melissa were the closest. Whatever Sasha would ask of Melissa, she would always say, “yes,” regardless of whether it was right or wrong. Nicole was not always at Sasha’s beck and call, which didn’t sit well with Sasha. Nicole thought for herself, and prided herself on doing the right things.
One day during the fall semester of their sophomore year of college it was almost time for homecoming. Sasha was low on cash, but she wanted some new bundles to wear in her head for the homecoming festivities. Melissa worked at a local beauty supply not too far from campus. Nicole was sitting in their living room reading a book, when Sasha stopped Melissa just before she was getting ready to leave their dorm for her shift, to ask her to get the bundles from her job.
Nicole looked up and said, “Sasha, why would you even ask her to do that? Melissa, don’t do it.”
Sasha quickly whirled around with her lips scrunched up and said, “You need to mind your business. No one was talking to you!”
Melissa looked at them both, and even though she really didn't want to do it, she told Sasha she would. Nicole shook her head, sat down and went back to her book.
Hours later, Melissa returned with tears rolling down her cheeks.
Nicole jumped up and asked, “What happened?”
Sasha came out of her room into the living room.
Melissa, replied, “I tried sneaking the bundles out of the store, but my boss caught me. He didn’t call the police, but he fired me.”
Sasha and Nicole were both at a lost for words.
In Sasha’s eyes, I’m sure Melissa was considered a nice person because she did whatever to make her happy. On the other hand, Sasha probably didn’t feel that Nicole was nice because Nicole did not always go along with what she wanted. Although Melissa kept the peace with Sasha by being "nice," where did that get her? What’s more important, being a nice person or a good person?
Some may ask, “What’s the difference?” There is a major difference. Even though, the terms are sometimes used interchangeably as if being a “good person” and a “nice person” are equivalent; they truly are not. There are distinctions between the two, and one definitely holds far more credibility than the other.
Good people, like Nicole, have fully functioning moral compasses with a high level of integrity. They strive to do what is right. They are considerate of other people. However, they speak their minds, stand their ground, and are unafraid to say “No.”
Nice people, like Melissa, more often than not, are people pleasers. They say “yes” to many things and people in order to be liked and accepted. In some cases, these things they agree upon go against what is right. They often do not speak up for themselves, and go along with whatever in an effort to not rock the boat or ruffle anyone’s feathers.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to keep the peace, however, it should never cost you your integrity or self-respect. Truth be told, being nice is much easier than being good. When there is a conflict between choosing to be good or nice, the former should take precedence in how you proceed. Although nice people may be kept around for going with the flow, a good person is one of authenticity and quality that can be respected and trusted.