TED Conversations

Dyed All Hues

Thinker and Experimenter,

TEDCRED 30+

This conversation is closed. Start a new conversation
or join one »

How can overly empathetic/sympathetic people compete in this world? Do they eventually end up jaded and bitter?

The saying goes "nice guys finish last". I interpret that "nice" means overly empathetic/sympathetic people who sacrifice themselves for others happiness. Kindness seems to be a sign of weakness in that saying, as though people prey on those kind-hearted people. If it were true, then how do kind people compete in this world? Is it some kind of evolutionary Yin and Yang, where a balance of certain personalities need to exist for progress to happen or do people have peaks and troughs of kindness in them?

Update: Thought I'd share a fascinating article found in the comments below:

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/marcia-sirota/too-nice_b_946956.html

It is about the differences between being nice and being kind.

+5
Share:

Closing Statement from Dyed All Hues

Thank you all for your well thought comments. I have learned a lot and I hope you've all taken some knowledge from this as well.

Be mindful of those around you and tread lightly on the paths made by your brothers and sisters of humankind.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Jan 19 2013: "Nice guys finish last"

    There needs to be a definition of the actual race in which nice guys finish last. Is it the fault of the nice guy that he finishes poorly - or is it the race itself at fault?

    Are there any races where nice guys might actually come first?

    Who or what is it governing the races in the first place?
    • thumb
      Jan 19 2013: Allan, I was curious about the origin of the saying "nice guys finish last", so did a search...
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nice_guy

      The saying never made sense to me....still doesn't, although the explanation gives me the background!

      You seem like a nice guy.....what do you think about the saying? I don't agree with it at all!
      • thumb
        Jan 19 2013: Thanks for the link Colleen.

        I don't agree with the saying either.

        I think "nice guys finish last" is more to do with lack of competitiveness, rather than lack of ambition. One can still be ambitious and still remain a 'nice guy', but being competitive almost assumes a presumption of hierarchy, belittlement, machismo, one-upmanship etc, which aren't necessarily the characteristics of a nice guy.

        Also, ambition can easily accommodate talent, empathy, kindness, whereas competitiveness is more likely to reward the ability to shout loud, to trample on others in order to achieve, narcissism, prejudice - even psychopathy. (that may be me being jaded and bitter...?)

        I think nice guys who may naturally have affinities towards careers in humanities do not necessarily do well in a capitalist society, where competitiveness is de rigeur for success.

        I generally rely on the opinions of others to judge my own nice guyness - or not! ;-)

        Do you think there's any value in the bit on male/female relationship dynamics?
        • thumb
          Jan 20 2013: So Allan,
          Read the article that Sarah provides the link for....it's a good one in my perception.

          I agree with the ideas you present, and do not EVER perceive you as a jaded, bitter person! That is my heartfelt opinion.....for what it is worth:>)

          Regarding relationships....
          Something that seems to be connected for me is another saying or myth...."Girls like bad boys". I searched for an origin to this saying, and cannot find one. However, what I did find is all kinds of reinforcement for this saying/myth.

          If we (humans) see and hear these kinds of sayings all the time, do you imagine that it could indeed influence relationship dynamics? My thought is yes!
    • Jan 20 2013: I have also been pondering on this subject for the last year or so. My take is very similar, that nice guys finish last in one particular race, but actually win another race. The people who say "nice guys finish last" are in fact playing a whole different game, which they don't realise. Not all the nice guys necessarily realise they're winning a different game but many do.

      I'm also reminded of an article called "The difference between being nice and being kind", which I highly recommend. http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/marcia-sirota/too-nice_b_946956.html . Basically the author draws a distinction between giving as an act of love, an act of kindness, and giving out of fear, which she terms being nice. Being nice to her is actually anything but kind, a relenting and grudging submission to someone higher in the pecking order. She explains it much better than me.
      • thumb
        Jan 20 2013: Interesting Sarah!

        I went to the dictionary...
        Nice: "showintg fastidious even finicky tastes; exacting in requirements or standards; possessing, marked by, or demanding great, sometimes excessive, precision and delicacy..."

        I have been totally misunderstanding the meaning of "nice"! No wonder "nice guys finish last"!
        It is, as you say....."the people who say "nice guys finish last" are in fact playing a whole different game, which they don't realise"!!!

        I'll be back....need to read the article:>)
      • thumb
        Jan 20 2013: Good article Sarah, and it makes a LOT of sense. I never liked calling people "nice", and I really didn't know why....didn't ever really look at the meaning of "nice". Thanks for that article:>)
      • thumb
        Jan 21 2013: Hi Sarah,

        Thank you very much! I have never been shown this perspective before...and it is very revealing of my own, and others around me, behavior. The article was very....paradigm shifting. Thank you again.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.