Personalities at work and in life- Advice from a Practical Stranger

Always be yourself

Does being nice, equal losing at life to the not so nice?

I’ve heard people say, time and time again that; ‘Being nice will get you nowhere fast’, and ‘Nice guys finish last’. How sad it is, when being nice to others will cause a person to be hurt or taken advantage of, far more often than selfishness will. When we meet someone who does something for us, just for the sake of helping us out, many times we second guess their motives. Doubting people and what their true intentions are, is a learned behavior that we start taking life lessons in, at a very young age. When we are young and in grade school, we trust our friends, and with giving our friends this trust we also give them the ability to hurt us-and too often they do.

Should we change to protect ourselves?

As an adult, we date-we work-we befriend and we still give our trust to others that turn around and manipulate us and hurt us. Should a person who is naturally kind and almost naïve to the cruelty of others, somehow set forth to manipulate their personality and beliefs to better serve and protect themselves? I was asked this question this past week, by a girl that reminds me a lot of me, or at least who I was about 7-8 years ago. The story pertaining to this question must be told to understand the hurt and emotion behind it, so I will begin by saying this girl is a new employee for the company which I work for. Because I am a freelancer, I am not in the office on a consistent base, which means that she is the only female who is there the majority of the time. She is educated, pretty and 22 years old. At 22 years old, she is feeling exactly what many 22 year old's are feeling, a little bit lost and attempting to figure out who she is and what she wants out of life. About 5 months ago she left her controlling, manipulative boyfriend, after realizing that she did not want to live the rest of her life with someone who made her feel less than whom she wants to be. I believe that this relationship which she was in for about 2 years is the pit of her doubt today.

You won't be liked by everyone, but as long as you like yourself-you will be okay

You will be tested throughout your life

Just as everyone at the office is doing to her, she is trying to figure out everyone and everything to distinguish who she can trust. I suppose I am, because she has begun asking me questions and telling me things that she probably would never share, if she didn’t trust me. So when she told me that some people gave off that, not so friendly vibe even when they were being nice to her, I knew exactly what she meant. Then she asked me,

“So what is it, should I just be out for myself and screw everyone else, just as they seem to want to do to me?”

I replied to her from a Big Sister sort of perspective by saying,

“No, I don’t think that you should try to change who you are to be out for yourself. I can see that being that way is not who you are, and that is a good thing. It is important to be who you are, even when others are testing your will and your strength. You will be tested throughout your life-and there will always be people around that if they can control, manipulate or harm you-they will. All you can do is watch out for these people and stay true to who you are and who you are striving to be. Although there are many people out there that want to take advantage of the naïve or kind people that are trusting of others, there are also people out there that don’t want to hurt you and are honestly there to help you along the way. The people that are there to help and guide you will see the kindness is your heart, or if you decide to be out for yourself -they will also notice the manipulation beneath your skin-and will probably stay clear of you, and in that case you lose that persons kindness. As you get older and as you learn from mistakes and learn to read peoples intentions you will be better prepared to assess situations and people so you know who to trust and/or stay clear of.”

I continued to tell her that, “Being nice and being cautious need to go hand in hand. When in a work situation, keep your personal life at home and don’t share too much information. Sharing information about your personal life in a work environment can harm you without you realizing it. Be honest though, if you are having problems at home and need to take a few days off to get things strait-or if you are distracted and are being questioned by an employer-don’t lie, but keep the details to yourself. Respond to questions by saying, ‘I am having some problems at home and I have been somewhat distracted,’ then ask if you can maybe take a day or two off to recollect yourself, apologize and say that you will try harder to stay on task, but do not give too many details in an attempt to make your boss understand, and do not make any promises that you are not sure you can keep. Both promises that are unobtainable and details of your home life may harm your employment, your credibility, dependability and may even harm any type of advancement that you hope to have with the company.”

I assured her that she will be just fine, as long as she is true to who she is, and that she should never try to change her personality because of a few rotten people that don’t have her best intentions in mind.

The world has all sorts of personalities

It can all change tomorrow

Life is a never ending lesson, sometimes you may feel as though you are failing, other times you will feel as if you are on the top of the world- but rest assure- it can all change tomorrow. All we can do as people is keep on going, and continuing to be honest with ourselves. Honesty within our hearts will assure others that we are genuine people and because of that, your life will be a successful venture.

Although I know I sounded like her sister or her mother, I told her what I told her because I see the beautiful soul that she has-as well as the self doubt that she carry’s. I see me, at 22 years old, and I know how much I needed a little encouragement from someone who did have my best interest at heart.

Tonight I will go to bed knowing that today I was true to whom I am and I feel better about tomorrow because of the effect that my words had on the mindset of a hopeful 22 year old girl, that I know will become a successful, and beautiful woman before she knows it.

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Comments 28 comments

DiamondRN profile image

DiamondRN 6 years ago from Charlotte, NC USA

I find that my absolute faith in God, that He is in charge, takes care of most of these issues for me, HC.

quicksand profile image

quicksand 6 years ago

I just read a hub written by someone in which he says that Muhammed Ali had said that nice guys don't go far! Not a good reason to change, huh? :)

gogogo 6 years ago

beautiful pictures, very good hub

Veronica Allen profile image

Veronica Allen 6 years ago from Georgia

I think the advice you gave this young woman was very good and practical. There is so little kindness and genuine generosity in this world, that it is truly refreshing when there are those who display these qualities. I agree with you H.C. we should never, ever change such beautiful qualities just to "get ahead". While we have to be cautious of those who are out to sabotage what we work so hard for, it will not bode well for us to do "tit for tat".

lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 6 years ago from Bishop, Ca

What kind words you had for this young woman, H.C. There are far too few people like you who go that extra mile to help someone who is faltering.

I wish I'd had a woman like you to speak to me way back when!

Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 6 years ago from Upstate New York

Good hub, HC. You're a very good person, that shines through, and I do believe the good people win in the long run.

Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA

HC, you approached this in such a thoughtful and intelligent way. We are who we are, and to try and change who we are to get ahead at work or keep from being hurt by others will eventually hurt us all the more. I have acted contrary to my nature out of love or jealousy or the desire to get ahead, but I have never liked myself when I have acted in this way. Like it or not, I am a person who struggles to use "any means necessary" to get my way. I am frequently hurt and challenged and I often feel like a failure, but this is who I am. To thine own self be true is more than just words--it's pretty much the only way to live a happy life.

Your advice was perfect, and it is nice that you had the perspective to offer her your wisdom. Who knows, someday this young lady might very well offer the same advice to someone else in need. This was a true testament to your character.


H.C Porter profile image

H.C Porter 6 years ago from Lone Star State Author


Although I to have a tendency to look to God for guidance, I also feel as if somethings God is trusting us to handle ourselves. Although God, may very well be in control of our destiny-there is no need to keep our eyes closed while we travel through our lives. Thanks for your thoughts and for reading-I appreciate the feedback

H.C Porter profile image

H.C Porter 6 years ago from Lone Star State Author


Nice example- but I still believe that being who you are will get you further and make happiness more lasting, that changing for reasons such as getting ahead or not getting hurt :) Thanks for your comment :)

H.C Porter profile image

H.C Porter 6 years ago from Lone Star State Author

gogogo, thanks so much for taking the time to read-and thanks for the compliment :)

H.C Porter profile image

H.C Porter 6 years ago from Lone Star State Author

Veronica. I couldn't have said it better-thanks for your meaningful comment :)

H.C Porter profile image

H.C Porter 6 years ago from Lone Star State Author


awww, that was sweet. i truly want this young lady to do well, and I know from experience that many if not most women that she meets through here journey will not be willing to share their experience to guide her. I see her hesitation to make comments and speak up- which is exactly what I use to do-was always careful not to step on toes. What I hope she can learn is that there is a right and wrong way to handle situations and differences-its all a matter of being genuine :)

H.C Porter profile image

H.C Porter 6 years ago from Lone Star State Author


Thanks so much for that comment. I hope that you are correct... The kind, rather than the cruel are the ones who deserve to finish on top.

H.C Porter profile image

H.C Porter 6 years ago from Lone Star State Author


Thank you! That was a very nice thing to have said. I too have attempted to be many things during my life-and I was never happy when acting a part. The truer I am to my self-the better I feel about my place in this world and myself in general. I can see that we share this insight. Hopefully your heart shines through in life the way that it does here on Hub Pages :)

dallas93444 profile image

dallas93444 6 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

Per an article in Saturday's Wall Street Journal talking about leadership and HP's former CEO... How being "nice" initially in one's career helps. When people beome the "boss," they change. The jobs requires it... The Armed services recognize this. Officers are kept separate from enlisted men. You cannot "fraternise" with your subordinates... Different work "cultures" are more lax with the boss being "nice."

John B Badd profile image

John B Badd 6 years ago from Saint Louis, MO

This is great advice H.C. and I hope the young lady at your office listens to it. Unfortunately in the world of cut throat business being nice can put you behind. In relationships being nice can make you appear weak and also cause you to be taken advantage of. It is a sad fact of life.

I think your advice about keeping your personal and work life separate is important. At the same time do not take business to personal and you won't get your feelings or pride hurt in the office.

As long as we stay respectful of others, keep a positive attitude and stick to our ethical choices we can be good people without being nice victims.

Take care :)

H.C Porter profile image

H.C Porter 6 years ago from Lone Star State Author


I see your point-some careers require an administrator to be tough. But I also believe that there is a line that separates being tough and being cruel. There is no need to hurt a person just for the sake of hurting them or ruining their reputation. It is important that people are supportive and motivational rather than cruel while attempting to break a persons spirit

H.C Porter profile image

H.C Porter 6 years ago from Lone Star State Author

John B Badd,

Thanks for the comment-I appreciate the feedback. You are right-being nice can leave you open to much hurt. Hopefully, in the end nice/ good intentions will get the ones who are deserving to the top-and allow them to stay there, while the people who are at the top due to to hurting and stepping on others, fall.

tom hellert profile image

tom hellert 6 years ago from home


Mike had it right your advice was "spot on". well done i have always said "be yourself... or else who are you"?.

It is funny- a guy I worked with- was allabout "climbing the ladder"- e brownnosed the bosses but when he would say something so very brownnosish- my buddy and I would call him on it he was a leach and a schemer- but he had a good persona-making himself to be greater than he truly was. He was a cool guy but I was not upset when the backstabber left....

So you have to be careful....


H.C Porter profile image

H.C Porter 6 years ago from Lone Star State Author

Thanks Tom for the comment. I don't think that anyone is really upset when someone like that leaves the office :) it is almost like a relief that you no longer have to hear all the BS that some people can think to say to try and get to the top.

tom hellert profile image

tom hellert 6 years ago from home

No one was too upset i ripped him a new one "injest" at his going away party then I have invited him for cards a few times we had fun...


H.C Porter profile image

H.C Porter 6 years ago from Lone Star State Author

Tom, I guess the butt kissers of society are real people too, is nice to see you check responses to your comments- I often wonder how many people do the same, when I am checking responses to my comments :)

dallas93444 profile image

dallas93444 6 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

In regard to your comment, "It is important that people are supportive and motivational rather than cruel while attempting to break a persons spirit," I agree. I firmly believe in the Golden Rule. What goes around comes around...

H.C Porter profile image

H.C Porter 6 years ago from Lone Star State Author


Karma does have a way of coming back to make or break us. I would like to think that if we do things for the greater good of others---we will be better off as individuals. (at least that is what I tell myself when I life gets a little more than I expected) Thanks for coming back and for commenting again

rafken profile image

rafken 6 years ago from The worlds my oyster

I agree with you fully, you should not have to change who you are. Having said that, I hope you are kind and respectful, otherwise perhaps you should try and change. Just as you should not change who you are, it is equally important not to try and change someone else. They must make any changes themselves, they are more meaningful and lasting. In my experience, many people do change on their own and for the better but it usually takes time.

Dallas93444 I was in the military for 23years, boy and boss. You are right to say that they do not incourage you to fratternise. However, being a boss is not about being hard or soft, more gets done by being fair. This means you must be both, hard or soft, depending on the situation, in order to keep a fair workplace without "favorites".

H.C Porter profile image

H.C Porter 6 years ago from Lone Star State Author


I try my hardest to stay kind and respectful-I still try to treat others with the same courtesy which I wish to be treated. Thanks for stopping in and leaving your feed back- I appreciate your perspective on the matter.

Debarshi Dutta profile image

Debarshi Dutta 5 years ago from Calcutta

Dear H.C. Porter,

Let me quote this line from your sincere hub: -

“So what is it, should I just be out for myself and screw everyone else, just as they seem to want to do to me?”

This question, that your perplexes your friend is significant.

According to the information you have provided, she is a moderately extroverted personality, with a proper upbringing, education and value - orientation, out of a relationship with a controlling personality with whom she does not want to or cannot ( in spite of herself) continue her girlfriend-boyfriend association.

Moreover she is not assured or convinced of the character of external reality, where she finds men who do not have time to reflect upon actions they commit and live as to be pre-occupied with this question about her relational possibilities with men.

The advice you have given her is sound..However, it is always luck and only luck, that she even knows you as a big sister.So no matter how upright, dignified and true you are...being nice never helps unless you are shrewd and observant..Your friend is 22 and inexperienced...therefore there would inevitably be a trial and error situation or no decisiveness and no new relationship at all.It only requires one to be thoroughly judgmental..about the other person before initiating expressiveness of liking another person to one's own self.

H.C Porter profile image

H.C Porter 5 years ago from Lone Star State Author

Debarshi Dutta - well that was quite the assessment. Thanks for giving some additional perspective on the subject...I appreciate the feedback

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