"Too nice" to be a nurse?

Nurses Career Support


I have been told by coworkers that I am "too nice" to pt's families, to docs, to care assistants, etc. But my philosophy tends to be that "you can win more flies with honey than with vinegar." (Granted, who wants to win flies?)

Mostly, the situation is that other nurses make a big deal about some issues that I just don't see as being worth the fight. There are also times where another RN tends to see a NICU pt's mom as manipulative, but I see her as stressed out and trying to protect her baby.

Anyway, I'm beginning to believe that this career does not suit my personality type.

Anyone ever been told they were "too nice"?

If so, what did you do about it?

J Lynn

451 Posts

Specializes in Endocrinology.

No one has ever told me I was too nice, but I haven't worked as a nurse yet. I know that i'm nice and will always be nice. The way you see people is the way nurses are trained to see people. Nurses seem to have a special gift in which they can see inside of a person by the way they act. Mental Health class was all about that. I think you were choosen by God to be in this profession. Don't let a few bad eggs ruin it for you. If I was a patient, I would want a compasionate nurse taking care of me. Not one who is overstressed and overworked. As long as you care about your patients, that's what nursing is all about.


587 Posts

I am nice to people in the ED and families have told me that too. What's difficult for me is the patient for whom niceness does not work -- by that I mean the psych patients who are trying to manipulate you. For those people I am too nice because I allow myself to fall for their being 'nice' to me.

You can't be too nice to people in crisis. I know that ED nurses get burned out quick, but I think that treating people well pays off in the end. I don't mean kissing butts, I mean being polite and considerate of their feelings, treating an ill family member with kindness.

Don't let the jerks get you down. Just don't let anyone take advantage of your niceness, because it can be done. Polite and kind are lacking far too much in this profession, as evidenced by how we sometimes treat each other cruelly.

Be yourself and do your best for your patients. That's being true to yourself.

Specializes in Emergency Room.

i also work in ed and have been told the same thing. i don't mind, because it makes my job easier. some nurses think it is their duty to "teach these patients a thing or two" but sometimes it only ends in useless arguments and yet another patient complaint. the best thing to do is use your own judgement when dealing with difficult families and patients. the ed i am at see a lot of substance/etoh abuse so we are use to manipulative people. i think communication is key. i tell my patients what is going on, why they are waiting so long etc., this decreases the patients anxiety and it makes my job easier because they don't bother me as much and i can get my work done. of course there are those people that will NEVER be satisfied but for the most part if you are professional and courteous most patients appreciate it.

renerian, BSN, RN

5,693 Posts

Specializes in MS Home Health.

My preceptor at the hospital said that about me... go figure.

renerian :p


814 Posts

I have not been accused of being too nice. That could be a good thing or a bad thing I guess. I do know of a couple of nurses who are very nice- very kind and some may think them pushovers. I like being around them and respect them for their ability to be nice-especially when they were nice to me above and beyond the call of duty. I would never say a harsh word against them and will not hear of anyone speaking badly of them.

Specializes in ICU, CM, Geriatrics, Management.
... some nurses think it is their duty to "teach these patients a thing or two"...

Have seen this too. What an (pardon my French) "effin" turnoff!!!

Be very nice and professional. (But don't let anybody con you into doing something that wouldn't be safe, therapeutic, against procedure, unlawful, etc. You get the idea.) And stay in control.

Tweety, BSN, RN

33,512 Posts

Specializes in Med-Surg, Trauma, Ortho, Neuro, Cardiac.

As long as you are assertive when you need to be, that you aren't taken advantage of and used, then be as nice as you want to be. We need more nice people in the world. But some people, you give them an inch and they take a mile.

Plus you make the rest of us grouches look bad. :)

boulergirl, CNA

428 Posts

Specializes in Home care, assisted living.

Several years ago I was working as a youth volunteer when a patient on my floor kept paging every five minutes. The nurses at the station just let the call light go unanswered because they were tired of going to the room to fetch the lady a newspaper or a banana. I asked them why she kept paging and they told me she just wanted attention and was probably lonely. I went to her room anyway and got her whatever she needed because I figured she could use the company.

Being nice can be a good thing...I'd rather have a "nice" nurse than a mean one. :rotfl: Just make sure you take care of yourself, too, by setting some boundaries.

I agree with Thirdshiftguy,

Being assertive when you need to be is the key. I have been told as well that I am too nice when it comes to patient's and their families, but like you I try to see them as more than how they are acting. I try to envision them like I was taking care of my father or mother and they really needed my help.

Sometimes it works, others, it fails miserably and you have to either toughen up or call in the troops. I have had to call security before for being "too nice" and almost ended up getting hit. Sadly enough, there are those patient's for whatever reasons will never respond better to kindness as they will someone telling them what they can or cannot do.

The question of if you are cut out for nursing, can I holler "YES"! We need your kind of nursing and don't be afraid to keep trying. There will be those days when everything else fails but your kindness will see a patient through a rough time. Its in reaching those very few who need you to act that way that makes it worth it. And most importantly, be yourself, don't be a doormat but always look for the best.


The next time somebody says you are "too nice" to be a nurse, just tell them, well.... EXPIALIDOTIOUS!

I think when we emapthize with our patients and their families, when we care for them from our heart, we are exactly what we should be.

Oh! Here's another response for those comments about niceness:

Try it, you might like it!!!

If your heart never breaks for a patient's disappointment, if you never feel a patient's joy, then you lack what it takes to be a good nurse--but it doesn't sound like you have a thing to worry about!


48 Posts

A little "infectious happiness" never hurt anybody!

(aka: patch-addams syndrome)

Trust me... i thought I had the problem because i was constantly told that "i'm too over the top".

I'm a student and thus i'm fortunate to have a little bit more time to sit and listen. I had a talk with a client one day whilst trying to learn my way around the unit (at an increidbly fast pace) why she wouldn't see her family whilst in hospital for SOBFI. The family would become rather vocal and stressed at the fact she refused to have them in the same room. She talked, i listened & in the end i felt that i really hadn't made THAT much of a dent. I went home and wasn't on the unit again for another week!

Cutting a lond story short.... At the end of her stay (lucky i was on shift) she came and found me and pulled me aside. She said that it wasn't what i said that made the difference but the fact i took the time, which her family wouldn't do, to listen, hold a hand and smile (cups of warm milo helped too! :chuckle )

So stuff them... They have the problem!

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