The Difference Between Nice Guys and Good Men

confidence good men integrity nice guy

As long as you truly respect the other person, you can say whatever you want without hurting them. - A friend

It's not a compliment, being called a nice guy. "Nice guys finish last" means that being nice is giving up ambition and assertiveness.

Or maybe you've heard, "No more Mr. Nice Guy," meaning, "I'm done holding back my true abilities," or, "Now I'm going to say what I mean."

If you've ever been told by the woman you love that you're 'nice,' but she's just not interested, you know it feels like a punch in the gut.

Niceness, in general, is overrated. It is not the same thing as kindness, or compassion, or understanding. It doesn't even mean courteous. It simply means unoffending.

People are Nice Because they are Afraid

Nice guys hold back because they think that speaking their minds or acting from a place of power will alienate others.

Being nice is a cop-out. It's what you do when you have nothing else to offer. Being nice is lazy and cowardly. It assumes that simply not bothering others is a substitute for integrity and solid beliefs.

Pickup artists realized this and made the obvious (if uninformed) decision that doing the complete opposite was the way to attract women and dominate social interactions. But being a jerk is no better than being nice. Others eventually get sick of the idiotic behavior and see past the illusion of confidence.

It's like the sheep-wolf-sheepdog distinction. Most people think they must either be pushovers or predators without thinking about the middle ground.

There is a third choice.

The Good Man acts on his principles, not others' expectations

These third choices often blend two ideas we think of as mutually exclusive. If you believe power corrupts--a cultural stereotype--it is a paradox to have a person who is both powerful and gracious.

I see it another way. Power, like money or fame, simply magnifies what's already there. That's why spiritual development is such an important aspect of human endeavor. Call it what you want--religion, secular humanism, spirituality--there needs to be a sense of value and principle informing your drive to self-actualization.

And that is what makes the good man more potent than the nice guy and more respected than the jerk: he acts from a foundation of integrity so his actions, even when they might seem harsh or aggressive, are directed towards bettering the world and the lives of others.

Not Just for Men

I see this distinction in women a lot as well. Many try to be agreeable all the time. Violent men take advantage of this to get women to drop their guard; too many women won't scream or hit an attacker because it would be offensive.

In my self-defense classes, I teach that there is a difference between consideration for others' feelings and politeness. It is important not to confuse consideration with agreeableness.

I encourage people to be everything they want to be and not to fall into the trap that they cannot be both powerful and kind. Be a good man or woman and live by your principles. That will earn you far more respect and liking than trying desperately to win hearts by being easy to get along with.

Photo credit: Clark Kent vs. Bruce Wayne, by JD Hancock on Flickr