TED Conversations

Dyed All Hues

Thinker and Experimenter,


This conversation is closed.

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:


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


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.

  • Jan 26 2013: The article is very good, I've always thought it was a clear difference though.

    Beware that at the root of the "nice" guy behaviour there are his own selfish needs, beliefs and feelings, toward which he is honest and faithful, although those can look "sick". This "nice" guy "ruins" his own existence to be appreciated, to be accepted" and ultimately to be "first" as those kind, smiling and beautiful people he imitates.
    As the article points out, the negativity hidden in his own behaviour does find a way to counterbalance his sick struggles, in a way or the other. Therefore, it's not only him who get his life ruined, but he makes the others pay off their price too and their only fault is to have misjudged him before.

    A guy of this temper hardly refrains from using all his skills in a competition, unless it is his own goal to disguise his own person under lesser dangerous clothes. He in fact can take out in any moment the same strength and violence he applies to his own existence, and apply them to firmly compete with others when he needs it. These guys are usually those "you didn't see coming", and make you feel surprised unless you've seen them doing that in the past.

    When Marcia Sirota outlined the possible sick behaviours that these guys can develop, she has been very accurate in my opinion. You should always put just half of your trust in this kind of guys, and never let they play their game if you want to help them to go out of their vicious circle.

    These opinions come from my own experience with "nice" guys, and I have a piece of strong evidence that at least some of them do reflect this kind of description very well. So I would end saying that your worries are misplaced. Only those trapped in being "victims" can fail to compete, because they've stopped trying.. ..but it is a really different type of people in my honest opinion.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.