6 Ways to Become a Nicer Person

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Being nice to others is an important way to spread kindness and positivity. In addition to benefitting others, research suggests that this type of prosocial behavior can also boost your own mental well-being.

How to Become a Nicer Person

Becoming a nicer person isn't as hard as you might think. There are things that you can do to show compassion, empathy, and kindness in your everyday interactions with others.

Act With Kindness

Being a nice person means acting with kindness, and research suggests that kindness can positively impact your brain. Individual acts of kindness trigger the release of oxytocin and endorphins and appear to foster the creation of new neural connections.

Being kind is a self-reinforcing habit. We crave the feel-good sensation of being kind, so one act of kindness can easily lead to another.

Avoid Being Overly Critical

It can be hard to be a nice person when you're consumed by negative thoughts. When you find yourself criticizing someone, try to adopt a more positive mindset. How can you reframe the situation and be more optimistic?

For instance, if a co-worker makes a mistake, pause before you criticize their work. Maybe you view their mistake as an opportunity to help them rather than becoming annoyed at them for not being perfect.

Be Honest

Stay true to yourself and your values. You can still express yourself nicely while being honest.

Being nice doesn't mean that you never say "no" to people or that you do things that you don't want to do.

Setting strong and fair boundaries means you're taking care of your mental and emotional health. Being nice to others can come more naturally when you feel safe and respected.

Be Nice to Yourself

The way that we treat ourselves, including our self-talk, plays an important role in how we treat others. After all, how can we treat others nicely if we don't treat ourselves nicely?

Notice how you talk to yourself and how you react when something goes wrong—do you blame or punish yourself? Do you call yourself names? By practicing patience and niceness toward ourselves, we make it easier to be nice to others.

Be Open-Minded

Life is full of change. When we're confronted with ideas, situations, or people that are unfamiliar to us, negative emotions can arise that make it difficult to be nice.

Open-mindedness is an essential quality for learning and absorbing information without judgment. Keeping an open mind can help you navigate unfamiliar territory while staying calm and relaxed.

It's much easier to be nice when you're comfortable with yourself and your environment—even amidst the many changes life throws your way.

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Be Polite

Politeness is only one aspect of being nice, but it is an important way to set a positive tone in social interactions. Remember that other people’s behavior does not need to bring yours down.

If others are being abrupt or rude, responding with politeness can be a way to change the direction of the interaction.

In everyday conversations, simple words like "please" and "thank you" can go a long way in showing someone you appreciate them.

Look for Ways to Be Helpful

Make an effort to find small ways to be helpful in your daily interactions with other people. From smiling at others in the grocery store to helping a co-worker with a project, being helpful can be a great way to practice being nice throughout your day.

Practice Forgiveness

Letting go of past resentments and forgiving others can help you move forward with a more positive attitude. It’s easier to be nice when you feel good about others.

Forgiving yourself is also important, so work on letting go of negative experiences from the past that hold you back from cultivating a more positive mindset.

Practice Gratitude

Spend a few minutes each day thinking about something for which you are grateful. You might find it helpful to keep a gratitude journal

Research suggests that gratitude can have many health benefits, including reducing stress and increasing happiness. Focusing on positive thoughts can help you develop a more positive attitude and can make it easier to cope with life's daily hassles and difficulties.

Respect Others

Empathy and respect are also important components of niceness. During your day, try to see things from the perspective of the other people in your life and think about things that you can do to respect their needs.

Even if you disagree with what someone else is doing, try to treat them with niceness and respect.

Respect people's time as well. If you are meeting a friend, for instance, try to show up on time and stay present during your conversations. Avoid staring at your phone too much. Practice active listening.

Defining Nice

What does it mean to be nice? How do you know if you are a nice person? Some characteristics that are often included in definitions of niceness include:

  • Altruism
  • Empathy
  • Fairness
  • Generosity
  • Helpfulness
  • Honesty
  • Kindness
  • Politeness
  • Responsibility
  • Thoughtfulness

The exact definition of "nice" can vary from one person to the next. The field of personality psychology suggests that there are a few different personality traits associated with this quality. 

Psychologists often describe personality in terms of five broad dimensions. One of these dimensions is known as agreeableness. It encompasses several traits that relate to how you treat others. For example, many of the characteristics associated with niceness, including kindness and empathy, are aspects of agreeableness.

Research also suggests that agreeableness can then be broken down into two main components: compassion and politeness. Both of these traits play a role in what we often think of as “being nice.”

Compassion is a trait that involves understanding and sympathizing with the emotional states of others and feeling moved to help. Politeness involves behaviors that are respectful of others and often motivated by a desire for fairness.

Signs You're a Nice Person

  • People seem to enjoy your company.
  • You feel compassion and empathy for others.
  • You give people genuine compliments.
  • You listen to what other people have to say.
  • You take responsibility for your mistakes.
  • You're honest but respectful.
  • You're kind to others.
  • You're kind to yourself.
  • You're supportive of other people.

The Benefits of Being Nice

Prosocial behavior
is the term psychologists use to refer to actions concerned with the well-being, safety, and feelings of others. In other words, many "nice" behaviors such as sharing, cooperating, and comforting are all prosocial actions that promote the welfare of other people. 

Such behaviors obviously benefit those we help and foster greater social connectedness. However, research also suggests that being nice to other people can also benefit your own mental health.

Increased Attractiveness as a Potential Partner

Being a nice person can make you more attractive as a partner. In a 2019 study published in the Journal of Personality, participants rated kindness as the single most important characteristic in a life partner. This means people felt it was more important than financial prospects, physical attractiveness, and a sense of humor.

Better Mood

Being nice feels good. Research suggests that engaging in kind and helpful acts can help improve your mood. In one study, researchers found that engaging in kindness activities each day for seven days increased feelings of happiness and well-being.

The study also found that the more kind acts people performed, the happier they reported feeling. It also didn't matter if these acts of kindness were directed toward friends, strangers, or even the self—all had an equally positive impact.

Decreased Stress

Niceness may also play a role in stress relief. Studies suggest that being nice may also help people cope more effectively with the effects of stress. For example, in one study, researchers found that people who performed acts of kindness reported feeling less stress and negativity.

Increased Kindness

Research has also shown that kindness can be contagious. One study found that cooperative behavior tends to have a cascade effect, spreading up to three degrees of separation from the source.

This means that being nice to others is likely to cause them to be nice to others as well, triggering a wave of kind and cooperative behaviors within social networks.

Things to Consider

While there are clearly several important benefits, being nice can also have some downsides. This is particularly true if the need to be nice impedes genuine communication and authenticity.

Some potential negative outcomes of suppressing your real feelings in an effort to be "nice" include:

  • Emotional outbursts: If you are constantly repressing your true thoughts and emotions just for the sake of presenting a "nice" persona, chances are that those feelings are going to rise to the surface at some point. Pressure may continue to build until some stress sets off a reaction, which might manifest as a sudden outburst of irritability or outright anger. 
  • Feelings of resentment: Hiding your real feelings or denying what you really want because those emotions or desires are not seen as "nice" can ultimately lead to feelings of resentment or bitterness. This can create a backfire effect and negatively affect your relationships with others.
  • Superficial relationships: If you aren’t stating the things you really want in a relationship for the sake of avoiding conflict and being nice, it may mean that you aren’t revealing your authentic self to others. This often results in relationships that lack both depth and emotional intimacy. There may be few arguments and conflicts, but there is also a lack of connection and closeness.

While superficial niceness can be a negative force, that doesn't mean that you shouldn’t strive to be a nice person. The key is to focus on niceness driven by consideration and mindfulness and not by an artificial veneer of politeness that masks your real feelings. 

A Word From Verywell

There are plenty of ways that you can incorporate niceness into your daily life. You might start by showing your appreciation for someone in your life or volunteering for a cause you care about. Being nice feels good—making niceness a habit is often its own reward.

It's OK if you're struggling to be a nicer person. Like any skill, being a nicer person may take time and effort. If you're struggling, you may wish to speak to a therapist or trained mental health professional to work through any obstacles.

12 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Kendra Cherry
Kendra Cherry, MS, is the author of the "Everything Psychology Book (2nd Edition)" and has written thousands of articles on diverse psychology topics. Kendra holds a Master of Science degree in education from Boise State University with a primary research interest in educational psychology and a Bachelor of Science in psychology from Idaho State University with additional coursework in substance use and case management.