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Nice Guys SHOULD Finish Last

You may see me being a little harsh (maybe even a little overly harsh ; ) here, but for all of those who consider themselves to be ‘too nice’, this is one of those cruel to be kind moments.

I have never met someone who is TRULY nice.

I’ve met people who are honest, who are earnest, I’ve met people who are generous and kind, but I’ve never met someone who is ‘nice’.

I find that people who say they are ‘nice’ are using it as a euphemism for being spineless and not rocking the boat.

Not only is that unimaginably boring, but it also means you’re dealing with someone who you don’t really know.

You don’t know what a nice person is really feeling, or what they’d truly like to do.

You ask them for their preference and they don’t give you a straight answer. They’re not honest about their feelings towards other people, or things that aggravate and annoy them. They just keep things on an even keel the entire time, holding onto the charade of being ‘nice’.

As I think about this subject, I think about the film ‘The Mask’.

I remember being struck on seeing this film by how much of a nice guy Jim Carey’s character Stanley Ipkiss is to begin.

He’s known for having finished a piece called ‘Nice Guys Finish Last’, as he somewhat nobly sees himself as a nice guy (and who in some ways resents the world because of it).

What we find when he puts on the mask is that he becomes a different character.

He becomes bold, edgy, and uncompromising. He becomes a force that drives towards whatever he wants, whether it’s women or money, and he goes after what he wants.

Now, he becomes a very unattractive extreme of this, but we know it’s a caricature of how he would actually like to be.

He hates when he’s a nice guy, and doesn’t respect that version of himself.

I find that nice people don’t stay nice forever. They often become bitter or resentful.

They get angry at the world for being treated badly, and they get angry at themselves for allowing others to walk all over them.

The insidious thing about niceness is that it can actually hurt the people it’s intended to please.

In being nice you’re not honest with the people you’re trying to please, you don’t give opinions that people need to hear, you don’t cut someone down when they need cutting down… And it can actually end up hurting the people it’s intended to help.

The phrase, ‘to be cruel to be kind’, is a very telling one.

Very often we have to have a sense of cruelty to tell someone something that will benefit them.

I believe KIND people deserve the world.

Kind people should be given every award and every bit of recognition. Kind people make the world a better place.

As an extension to idea that ‘nice guys finish last’, I put to you that nice guys SHOULD finish last.

Question Of The Day:

Are you guilty of being too nice? In what ways can you tilt the balance in favour of being kind rather than nice?

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119 Replies to “Nice Guys SHOULD Finish Last”

  • While I agree with what Matthew is saying, I do want to add there is a difference between having manners and being “nice”. I don’t believe he means to forgo politeness to get what you want, just stand up for yourself. I don’t think this video gets across what he really mean (at least I hope it doesn’t.)

  • Hi Matt,

    When I read your email, I was totally on board with your “nice guys SHOULD finish last” pronouncement. I’ll admit the video wasn’t about the, ahem, finishing I was expecting, but I resonated with your message nevertheless. I have been very sensitive my whole life and that coupled with a desire to be kind/not hurt others has sometimes meant that I am more willing to put my needs or preferences second. It can be a very fine line between kindness and niceness. I feel like kindness fills you up and comes from a place of authenticity, value, and love. Niceness may have some of the same antecedents, but ultimately is pretty manipulative. It feels unsteady, because your feelings are predicated on another person’s response (which is outside your control), and hold you back from the messy, lovely, heart-opening vulnerability of being true and emotionally intimate with someone.

    Thank you for speaking your mind so clearly and authentically. Your desire to live as your best self and help others do the same is very palpable.

  • I think your concept of a “nice person” is truly different from mine.Anyway, I get what you try to say.

    Jameson:Don´t listen to the Mr. Famous.Your work is neat and we appreciate you. Will we ever see your face? Oh, what a mystery…

    1. What I mean is that someone can be nice without beeing someone that for pleasing others is unfaithful to himself. I think the problem is to think that beeing nice or even polite, equals being fake or with a weak personality. In my opinion this mistake is dangerous because it lead us to a wrong prejudice.

  • I’m a dichotomy. Professionally I take NO bull from anyone but in relationships, I’m way too accommodating while also sabotaging, I believe. Hopefully watching your videos and doing some manifesting work, I can find a great man!
    PS – I’m glad you differentiated between “nice” and “kind”!

  • Is it correct to presume that the terms ‘nice’ and ‘kind’ are mutually exclusive? Can they not co-exist? The overuse of the word ‘nice’ has dulled it’s meaning, making it sound superficial, bland and blase compared to kind. ‘Nice’ now seems to have the connotation of something bad going alongside it – ie nice and naughty. It doesn’t have to be this way, however, nice doesn’t have to be insipid it can encompass true benevolence and kindness and the two can co-exist in my opinion.
    I think there can be a danger that if you are nice and kind but naive you can be treated like a doormat and that is definitely not kind to oneself. It’s knowing when to stand up for oneself and not be taken advantage of.

  • I must admit, that was a bit harsh- but I know that it came from a place of kindness and wanting to help, so right on! lol Not many people are told the unsettling truth that being nice is NOT the same as being kind. While I don’t think that being nice is entirely a bad thing, I think that trying to please everyone and be perceived as “nice” can be dangerous. In a way being nice all the time can stifle your personality and people don’t get to see who you truly are when you’re too concerned with trying to be everyone’s cup of tea. In being kind, you can be nice; but you’re also not compromising who you are or bending over backwards for people who haven’t earned that from you. Anyways, I think i’m rambling so that’s all i have to say. haha Great video!:)
    P.S.- are we ACTUALLY ever going to SEE Jameson????

  • Yes! It goes for men and women. I’m a people pleaser, so many times I get frustrated because people take advantage. i love it. I needed to hear that today. You’re blunt but that’s not a bad thing : )

  • Jameson Whiskey? what?
    Oh Matthew, here’s my situation. I’m 49, divorced, have the body of a 20 year old. Was a professional bellydancer for 30 years. Have been told by many men I’m beautiful. I’m in Montreal pursuing a PhD, and everyone I know is 25-35 years old. I meet either 25-30 yos who want ‘fun’ or people in my age group who want their life partner and tell me I don’t have the right to a committed relationship if I think I’ll be leaving town in two years when I find a job. I don’t know how to negotiate this situation. I’ve been on dating websites, & the younger guys say they have immediate ‘needs’ they want met and the age-appropriate ones lead with their insecurities and let me know up front they don’t think they are good enough (presumably because I am not fat and ugly). I’m not ready to engage in a lifelong commitment but I don’t want to make do with booty calls. I don’t want to compartmentalize because I need to care about the person I’m having sex with. Perhaps I need a younger boyfriend who is also in a transitional phase & not ready to settle down. How do I find/communicate my situation without sounding ultradefensive and overly demanding? I want something real, I can’t play a role as a ‘cougar’ but I can be realistic about the level of commitment. My impression has become that if a guy doesn’t want a relationship with a particular woman he cannot treat her well and with respect. Thanks in advance. M

  • Hey there! Not very nice of you to heckle Jamison! But then again..youre not very Nice, are you? ….NOT ANYMORE atleast.

    hehe… and I respect that!

    I used to be nice too. I was a pushover to say the least.
    I still considerate peoples feelings and I care alot. But there are simply too many emotions flying around all the time you cant help but step your foot in it once or trice in a while! And…well..things very interesting then. I find out things I never imagined existed! :D

    But what do you mean Nice guys SHOULD finnish last? Shouldnt them all? ;)

  • Can we see Jamison??!! Can we, can we?? Or does he not like the camera?

    I’m sometimes guilty of being nice. Not as much as I used to be but sometimes. But usually, it’s because of fear more than anything else. Because rocking the boat is sort of scary because you have no idea where you’re going to end up. It’s like, what’s going to happen to me if I do this? Also, I notice that when I am being nice, I feel angry and trapped. I don’t usually blame the world though. I just feel angry with myself and sad too. Like, why do I have to be so afraid? Sometimes I don’t even know what I’m afraid of. It’s not even logical. I just feel like somewhere down the road this little incident will come and bite me. Like, oh no I was a little short with this person today. Never-mind whatever they have said or done. He or she’s going to be mad and go tell someone else of influence and they’re going to think bad of me and give me a hard time etc…But then I look up and I see that little carrot stick wiggling in front of my face and I want it. I just wanna grab it and take it for my own. And I think stupid carrot, you’re going to get me in trouble. But lately, I have been more emboldening and it feels scary, truly it does but I’m realizing that the world is still turning and not burning in fire and brimstone. And it also helps because I’m a lot more confident. Each time the world doesn’t explode in my face, I feel a little more easy and relaxed. Oh, and I can have my carrot too.

    One thing though, more than anything else, I want the strength to carry forward even if the world does slap me a few times. I’m terribly afraid that if it does, it’ll crush what I have built. I still feel tender, vulnerable.

  • If Jameson is not getting recognized in Starbucks that he frequents, then that Starbucks is not good at their job of recognizing their loyal customers. Time to find another Starbucks, Jameson. As for me, 2-3 years of frequently going to the Starbucks next to my work, they know me and what I do for a living, and I see a couple of them randomly at bars and give hugs and chat, but they still have not made me or my co-workers customer of the week at their Starbucks, which is something they vote on. Here I was thinking they were nice….. guess not, after all. :) hahah.

  • Dear Matthew,

    I have to disagree with your “nice guy finishes last” theory a bit. The “last man standing” means the last person standing wins. Being nice and kind aren’t that different.


  • Dear Matthew,

    I have to disagree with the “nice guy finishes last theory”. The last man standing wins too!!!!, is also another theory. Nice and kindness are not too far apart.


  • While I agree that sometimes when someone is intending to be nice in order to please others or to not offend someone, yes these “nice” people can be doing a disservice to those they intend to benefit. However, I utterly disagree with your comments about needing to “cut-down” or to have a sense of “cruelty” in order to truly help people when they require a “tough love” approach. I think confronting bad behaviour, taking a moral stand to someone else’s blatant indecency or disrespect, and saying the truth in love is a much better approach to “cruelty”. Saying the truth in an attitude of love and respect is where your appreciation of kindness comes from, Matt.

  • And there you go again…saying things that are so applicable to humans. It’s not about being a guy, a girl, a parent, a co-worker-it’s about acting like a decent human being. I came to you thinking I was nice- and thinking it was a good thing. I left you aware and driven to be kind, honest, truthful and loving.
    I have just been to see a family member who gets my back right up. It’s the words they use, how they phrase them and then how my brain translate them to be cutting, derogatory and instructional. I have come home fit to burst and put my hand through a wall. Thanks to you and THE RETREAT I have managed to chunk the situation down into what’s really bothering me- I’m angry with myself because I am nt being congruent with what I say and how I feel.
    Rome wasn’t built in a day and I’ve still got work to do but I have the tools to address this from my side. I’ve sat myself down for a chat and we have an approach for our next meeting.
    Thank you for being kind Matt. XxxX

  • I agree that “niceness” gets in the way of honest communication. I have a male friend who is so conflict-avoidant that he has become very good at saying what the other person wants to hear to avoid conflict, but then he overcommits to too many people, and doesn’t fulfill his word, wreaking havoc on his relationships. Or he gets mad and stubborn. It all seems to stem from his discomfort with being in disagreement with someone. I see how he runs himself ragged trying to please others all the time, and he can never please everyone, so he ends up disappointed in himself and resentful with all the people making demands on him. He is outwardly successful but emotionally bankrupt. It is hard to watch him on his never-ending merry-go-round of people pleasing. I wish he could hear what you have said before, Matthew, “You are enough.”

  • It’s unfortunate that in some circles, nice and spineless have come to equate the same thing; they don’t. In my opinion, a nice person is kind, considerate, and honest. I know many people with these qualities. They can tell you the truth without out being nasty. It’s truly an art.

  • I’d say a lot of ‘niceness’ is a sign of insecurity and fear. If we submit in order to get a good reaction or not be stressed, maybe we just can’t handle negativity and conflict. But what this also means is that we don’t have much to offer because we are too dependent on other people’s unpredictable behavior. I’ve been in both places (‘niceness’ and ‘kindness’) and my recommendation to people is to protect themselves physically, emotionally and spiritually until they have a stable base and know they can be strong. Try not to form new relationships (especially risky ones) and get out of toxic ones. Then when you’re strong enough to offer positivity or firmness to others no matter how they behave, you won’t have to fall back on ‘niceness’.

  • I don’t agree with equating the word “nice” to spineless, boring, dishonest behavior, but I do understand exactly what you’re talking about. When you try to put everyone else above yourself, most people don’t appreciate it. They take advantage and walk away, looking for the next person who will let them get away with anything. The people who don’t want to take advantage won’t even notice you. That’s a fact I’m still adapting to, because I was raised with the notion that selflessness is the best thing to be. As an adult you realize that people don’t appreciate that stuff, and also that no matter how sweet and nice you act, you’re not entitled to anybody’s appreciation. It’s up to the individual to discern who is worthy of their most generous qualities, instead of giving blindly to everyone. I think you can be nice AND assertive, but most people don’t know how.

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