Is "nice" a compliment?

15 November 2017

Dear friend,

When I was at primary school my teacher banned some words. We weren't ever allowed to use the words lovely or nice. I remember it clearly and I understand why she did it, we all overuse words and in those days it was probably the in phrase like, cool or chill or whatever it is those in the know are using today.

Twice in the past few weeks people have described me using the word "nice"and it doesn't feel "lovely". Am I being oversensitive? Maybe but it definitely made my hackles rise!

What's wrong with being nice - well nothing per say... Only there is that fine line between being nice and too nice. And is nice ever a compliment?


  • You apologise for things that aren't your fault... I definitely apologise when things aren't my fault! Bump into me and I will automatically say sorry. In fact my brother-in-law regularly berets me for this! He has a point it is a particulacy British trait, I often wish I was more self assured like the Dutch (read more). So perhaps apologising for things is a cultural not a kindness issue?
  • You work way too much... I work hard, I always have. It is something that was instilled in me by my parents and as a teacher I certainly work in a caring profession. The best teachers in my opinion are the ones that teach from the heart  (read more). I would like to think that my pupils see me as a kind, fun teacher. But I don't think I work too much! I used to but having a family made me get more balance in my life. I am however guilty of working too hard on my blog and have had to take a step back and schedule my time better.
  • You never ask for help... This used to be true and was almost my downfall. I definitely saw asking for help as a kind of failure. I thought I had to cope with everything myself be perfect in everything. This was magnified as my husband also worked away during the week so in many ways I had to take on things myself. But having a child with special needs forced me to reasses and I asked for help. My husband changed jobs to share the load. We found support for our son and for us. I learned very quickly to ask for help was not failing but succeeding...
  • Everyone comes to you with your problems... People do come to me with their problems. But I love it, I really don't mind. I like helping people and if that makes me too kind then tough. I will not compromise...
We rise by lifting others!
  • You are awkward with compliments... I am learning to be better at accepting a compliment but still find this hard... Again I feel that this is quite a British trait. But rather than deflecting with a denial or self insult I tend to boomerang that compliment right back or look for reassurance e.g. I really thought  you made a great point about... Oh really did you think so I felt I waffled a bit?!
  • You forget to be kind to yourself... Being kind to yourself is difficult for many parents as we struggle to find time for and really feel like ourselves. I am finding more ways to be Catie, not mum, wife, daughter, sister, or teacher just Catie. Blogging has certainly helped me to do that and given me a voice.

On reflection being called nice is perhaps not so bad after all. However, the people that used this adjective are also people that I would argue don't know me very well. It's not the word I would choose for my final resting place

Here lies Catie she was nice...

 But then again there are worse things.

So what do you think, is nice a compliment?

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