When You Can’t be Nice

Being a nice person is easy when you have the option to be nice.

In business and life, you don’t always have that option.

Sometimes you find yourself in a situation where being nice to someone is actually the wrong thing to do. It’s bad for the business, it’s bad for the other people involved in the business, it can even be bad for the person you’re being nice to.

I found myself in that position recently. I had to cut someone out of a project. It was someone I care about and have worked with for a long time on a previous project in the same field. They did nothing wrong. The situation just changed and as a result, it no longer made sense to continue working together.

They took it well at first. They seemed to agree that it didn’t make sense to force something that clearly didn’t feel right. They seemed to be on the same page. That didn’t last too long though. Turned out they felt like they were owed a position in the new project and went as far as to threaten legal action.

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It sucked. Not because I was afraid of the legal action or that I felt like I was wrong, but because I absolutely can’t stand hurting other people, especially those who don’t deserve it. I can’t help but try to be a nice guy. I can’t help but try to make everyone happy. But sometimes that’s just not possible.

There isn’t really anything you can do about it. I think what’s important is that you’re honest with yourself and with anyone affected by your actions. If nothing else, at least no one is upset for lack of clarity.

And it does get easier. This isn’t the first time I had to part ways with a cofounder. It’s the hardest thing ever but you learn how to communicate it better, how to approach it tactfully, how to feel comfortable being truly honest. You also learn that the worse thing you can do is put it off. It only gets harder the longer you wait and if you string people along it makes it harder for them too. So you have to be decisive and committed to your decision.


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