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Being Nice Won't Make You Popular

Updated on April 24, 2013
TimArends profile image

Timothy Arends is a writer, graphic artist, webmaster and entertainer. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Berea College (Kentucky).

A 15-year-old boy who really wanted a girlfriend once wrote to a newspaper advice columnist. He said he offered "companionship, love, trust, fairness to others, understanding and availability when problems arise."

He was extremely active in social organizations. He played chess, and was in the youth program of his local church, as well as in local athletic programs, Explorer Scouts and the Key Club.

There was only one problem: he was, as he put it, "very lonely."

The things we can learn from this young man's letter are many. First, merely being "a nice person" will not automatically make you popular. Assuming the young man wasn't leaving out any negative traits, it is safe to conclude that being a jerk wasn't the cause of his problem.

Unfortunately, being a "nice person" is not good enough. You can be as "nice" as they come, and that will not necessarily make you popular. Too often the word "nice" is simply used as a synonym for "outgoing" or "talkative."

How many times have you described someone as a "nice" person who you didn't really know, based simply on the fact that they seemed friendly?

The second thing we can learn from this is that getting out and joining clubs and organizations is not automatically going to bring popularity.

The columnist concluded that since the young man participated in so many activities, he must meet a lot of girls, and since he showed the traits of being "nice," the most likely explanation for his dilemma was shyness. The columnist also noted that difficulty making conversation could be a key part of the problem.

As the columnist put it, the young letter writer wasn't "connecting" with people.

Unfortunately, the problem of shyness can create a "wall" around you that may make it very difficult for you to reach out to others or for them to reach out to you. You can fill up all your free time with social activities, but that will not necessarily bring friends of either sex unless you overcome some shyness.

You see, people aren't "psychic." They can't tell through some kind of "sixth sense" whether someone is "nice" or not. The only way they can tell this is if someone makes friendly and lively conversation with them.

Notice that the two traits of "friendliness" and "liveliness" must be present. If you make conversation with someone but it's strained and awkward, it won't do you much good in forming friendships!

Yes, simply being "nice" will not bring you popularity. You must build up your conversational skills and learn how to communicate your good traits to others if you want them to be friendly to you.


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    • TimArends profile image

      Timothy Arends 3 years ago from Chicago Region

      Yes, and I'm sure we all know people who are kinda jerks yet are still fairly popular!

    • Jeannieinabottle profile image

      Jeannie InABottle 3 years ago from Baltimore, MD

      I have never tried to be nice in life nor have I really tried hard to make friends. I suppose I am lucky that people tend to want to be friends with me... maybe because I am not always nice! I just do whatever I think is the right thing, and it seems to be working out so far.

    • TimArends profile image

      Timothy Arends 6 years ago from Chicago Region

      Thanks, Ashantina, interesting point!

    • Ashantina profile image

      Ashantina 7 years ago

      Here's a little known fact about the word nice: its latin origin was 'nescire', ne=not; scire=to not know, and pre-dates c.1300; put the two words together and it meant 'to not know' ie someone foolish or ignorant.. Only know because I had to do a language presentation recently on the history of words :)

    • jagerfoods profile image

      jagerfoods 7 years ago from South Carolina, USA

      A very good perspective on society and our social structure.