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.

  • thumb
    Jan 29 2013: Hi Genevieve,
    I suppose it's a strange case of empathy. I fully agree with everything you wrote, yet I still empathise with Lance a bit, because I have seen over the past 10 years how the net has been slowly closing in on him but never leaving him an easy way out. There was never a moment when he had the option to say "OK, I admit, I took drugs like everyone else" and get away with a 2-year suspension - they were determined to hang him as an example to all. So he's been kind of forced into this position of holier-than-thou denial which I'm sure he never wanted - and then when his fall comes, it is all the more dramatic.
    My analogy is with Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. Bill did something wrong, but he was not the first to do so - however instead of it being a minor misdemeanour, the Republicans and Kenneth Starr managed to turn it into a much bigger issue without giving him the chance to get out of it. Again, no question that Clinton was morally wrong (just like Lance), but I look at that situation and I empathise with him.
    What it says about me that I empathise with people like that is probably something I should worry about :)

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.