Not Nice: Quotes by Aziz Gazipura on People-Pleasing

What are the best Not Nice quotes? Do you do everything people ask you to do?

Being nice isn’t necessarily a bad quality to have. But Not Nice by Aziz Gazipura says that society’s fixation on niceness has changed why people are nice in the first place.

Below are the best Not Nice quotes that represent Gazipura’s arguments.

Not Nice Quotes

Have you ever found yourself saying yes when you really meant no? Or perhaps you’ve noticed the weight of unspoken resentment while agreeing to something that you don’t want to do…again? If these scenarios strike a chord, you’re not alone. In Not Nice, psychologist Aziz Gazipura critiques our cultural fixation on niceness, suggesting that both individuals and society would benefit from being less nice. Gazipura aims to free people from the trap of constant people-pleasing and empower them to build meaningful connections, all while maintaining a healthy focus on their own well-being and needs. 

Let’s look at four Not Nice quotes with context from the book.

“Being nice does not come out of goodness or high morals. It comes out of a fear of displeasing others and receiving their disapproval.”

According to Gazipura, we’re raised to believe that it’s important to be nice. Parents, teachers, and other adults consistently remind children to be polite, get along with others, not hurt people’s feelings, and follow the rules. While these lessons are well-intentioned, young people often inadvertently learn that anything that doesn’t meet adult expectations of niceness is bad. They become afraid of doing anything that displeases people in their lives, whether that be openly disagreeing with them or being too loud. We carry these lessons with us into adulthood, holding on to the belief that being nice is the equivalent of being good.

But, according to Gazipura, being nice isn’t about being good at all. He explains that niceness doesn’t stem from our desire to take care of others or be kind but from a fear of rejection. Niceness is simply a set of rules we believe are necessary to earn affection and avoid rejection.

“I saw that clients who were trying the hardest to be nice people also felt the most anxious, guilty, and frustrated.”

If niceness is wrapped up in the need to be liked, amplified guilt, and a fear of conflict, then, Gazipura argues, we should all aspire to be less nice. While being nice may help you avoid discomfort in the moment, it has a long-term cost. Gazipura outlines the mental, emotional, and physical consequences of being nice.

According to Gazipura, prioritizing others’ needs over your own can lead to chronic stress, anxiety, anger, and resentment. Uncomfortable emotions may manifest as physical symptoms, including headaches, muscle tension, disrupted sleep, or other stress-related issues.

Moreover, Gazipura argues that being overly nice, while intended to foster connection, prevents the development of genuine, mutually satisfying relationships. By constantly seeking to please everyone and avoid disagreements, you engage in inauthentic behavior that disconnects you from your core values and beliefs, and results in only superficial connections.

Finally, Gazipura says that choosing to be overly nice often means avoiding challenges, conversations, and situations that might push you out of your comfort zone. This avoidance can hinder your growth, which requires embracing discomfort, taking risks, and asserting yourself. Staying within the bounds of niceness therefore keeps you stagnant and prevents you from reaching your full potential.

“Here’s the thing. You are not responsible for other people’s feelings. They’re not incompetent children. They’re adults who can handle their own feelings. They can work through disappointment, hurt, anger, sadness, and upset. In fact, doing so will make them stronger and healthier in the long run. You cannot stop others from feeling all discomfort, or all pain. It is an impossible task, a fool’s errand.”

When you’re overly concerned about how others feel, it’s easy to feel responsible for their emotions. However, their feelings aren’t your responsibility—you can’t control people’s emotional reactions. Taking responsibility is also unrealistic and disrespectful because you unintentionally treat someone as incapable of handling their emotions. Instead, Gazipura recommends treating everyone as a fully functioning adult who’ll inevitably feel a range of emotions.

If you find yourself constantly feeling responsible for other people’s feelings, Gazipura offers several strategies: 

1. Sitting With Emotions is a meditative exercise you can do anytime you’re feeling guilt or anxiety about how someone else is feeling. When these feelings arise, close your eyes and bring your attention to where your discomfort is sitting in your body—maybe it’s knots in your stomach, a constriction in your throat, or tension in your jaw. Breathe deeply while focusing on the physical sensation of the emotion, and then try to soften the area of tension. As you practice sitting with your own discomfort, you’ll find that it’s not as scary as you imagined and the feelings become easier to manage over time.

2. The Personal Bubble is a visualization that can help you stop taking responsibility for people’s feelings. When you first wake up, or as you go through your day, imagine a giant translucent bubble around your body. The bubble is semi-permeable, is in your control, and can let in connection, love, and excitement, while blocking judgment and anxiety. Imagining this bubble can help you empathize with others’ feelings without taking them on as your own.

3. The Pattern Interrupt is a practice of noticing your tendency to take responsibility, and then changing your behavior. First, notice when other people’s feelings are making you feel guilty or anxious. After you notice your instinctive response, intentionally introduce a new one. Maybe when someone else is feeling strong emotions, you take a few deep breaths, or say to yourself, “I am not responsible for their feelings.” The goal is to find a new behavior to replace the old one and implement it until it becomes a habit.

While you’re not responsible for others’ feelings, you can still provide support during tough times. Gazipura explains that challenging emotions often arise from unmet core needs such as certainty, connection, and contribution. He recommends asking questions to help others identify these unmet needs and explore ways to support them in fulfilling those needs.

“The opposite of nice is being real.”

Once you know what you want and understand that you’re more than “just nice,” it’s time to become a more authentic version of yourself, one who speaks their mind. According to Gazipura, people avoid speaking their mind for several reasons: They fear hurting someone’s feelings, causing offense, or inciting anger; they aim to avoid being perceived as rude, mean, or aggressive; or they hesitate to show emotions, appear needy, or make public mistakes.

While these fears are powerful deterrents, Gazipura argues they’re based on false beliefs about relationships. In the world of nice, if you disagree with someone or express strong volition, that person will like you less. In reality, honesty strengthens relationships. When you say what you think, you treat the other person as a capable and resilient adult, allowing both of you to be your authentic selves, regardless of whether you agree.

According to Gazipura, to speak up effectively, you must communicate assertively—express yourself clearly while also considering others’ feelings. This helps everyone talk openly, respect each other, and set clear boundaries for healthy interactions. In contrast, passive communication involves holding back your thoughts and needs, often leading to frustration and misunderstandings, and aggressive communication is forceful and disrespectful, causing conflicts and damaging relationships. Being assertive strikes a balance, fostering effective and respectful conversations.

Not Nice: Quotes by Aziz Gazipura on People-Pleasing

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Aziz Gazipura's "Not Nice" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full Not Nice summary:

  • Why there's a cultural fixation on niceness
  • How individuals and society would benefit from being less nice
  • How to break free from the people-pleasing trap and empower yourself

Katie Doll

Somehow, Katie was able to pull off her childhood dream of creating a career around books after graduating with a degree in English and a concentration in Creative Writing. Her preferred genre of books has changed drastically over the years, from fantasy/dystopian young-adult to moving novels and non-fiction books on the human experience. Katie especially enjoys reading and writing about all things television, good and bad.

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