“Nice Is Different Than Good”

Revoke my thespian card, but I’ve only just seen Into The Woods, and that on film, not stage.

This line from Little Red Riding Hood struck me all the same: “Nice is different than good.” It has a ring of truth. Is it true?

I try to be nice all the time, so that the thought of being considered not nice by someone, anyone makes me sick. I have placed a premium on niceness in my work and my character and my relationships since forever. I want to be thought of as smart, yes. Hard working, sure. But please think me nice above all.

The problem with this fixation with niceness is obvious: effectiveness sometimes requires, if not outright meanness, then a firmness that cares more for outcomes than it does for the impression of one’s niceness. Nice work is different than good work, because good work may require meanness.

But is niceness ever the work? In a stingy world, is the person who is genuinely and authentically nice uniquely valuable? Does niceness add something effectiveness can’t?