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 28 2013: It is absolutely NOT true that overly empathetic / sympathetic people finish last. They typically have more friends, better support systems and many more meaningful relationships. There are very few downsides to being nice - for the most part being nice is reciprocated, so your sacrifice, on average is more than repaid - and this in addition to the satisfaction that you get from helping others.

    Nice men are very popular with women, and those exceptions are not appreciated because they are not nice, but rather despite the fact that they are not nice - often because their particular style of not being nice demonstrates remarkable courage, independence, originality or whatever. (I'm not referring to mistreatment of women and dependence in relationships, which is a more complex phenomenon).

    The confusion arises because many people who class themselves as "nice" are not so much nice as weak - they behave in a certain way not because of a strong inner desire to help, but because it is the route of least resistance. And people can see this. The difference is like night and day.

    A truly nice person will not just offer to share his chocolate or let you into the lane when you are entering from a small side-street. He will also aggressively confront a bully, he will NOT let you into the lane in front of him if you're blatantly just trying to skip past the other cars. A nice person will confront you if you make a racist remark. Because he is driven to help and to do what is right, rather than by the desire to please at all costs.

    Being a truly nice person takes a LOT of courage - but those who achieve this are greatly admired in our society.
    Women do not find "nice guys" like this to be boring at all. They do find the weak stereotypical "nice guy" boring, because he's not so much nice as "pathetic" ...
    • thumb
      Jan 28 2013: Denis,
      I agree with most of what you write, and you bring an interesting element into the conversation with your statement..."The confusion arises because many people who class themselves as "nice" are not so much nice as weak - they behave in a certain way not because of a strong inner desire to help, but because it is the route of least resistance. And people can see this."

      I wholeheartedly agree with you that people can often intuit intention, and if it doesn't "feel" good, authentic or genuine, they/we may reject what is being offered. So it is important to know our own intent.

      Did you see this article....link provided on this discussion thread by Sarah Taylor? I'd be interested in your perception/comments. We now have "nice", "kind", "weak" to consider. I tend to think weak/insecure with intent to please may be behind the feeling of bitterness when inauthentic sympathy/compassion/empathy is offered.

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

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.