How to Be True to Who You Are: The Thin Line Between Niceness and Fairness

The challenging intersection of social etiquette and equity in professional relationships.

Darren Stehle


Image source.

Are You Being NICE or Are You Being FAIR?

“Nothing Inside me Cares Enough (to tell you the truth).”

Almost 20 years ago, I was part of a program led by a strength training coach. His acronym for the word NICE (above) was demonstrative of the kind of person he was. So if you can’t be nice, or choose not to be nice, what’s the alternative?

If your default is to be nice to everyone, you’re probably not being true to who you are.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t mean that you should be uncivil, rude, or inconsiderate. You don’t have to go to the extreme opposite of what being NICE means to be your best self.

Being NICE is a form of social etiquette; a politeness to avoid dealing with the truth — a thinness of trust in others and a kind of disrespect, in the sense of not caring enough to speak freely.

The Oxford Dictionary defines FAIR as,

“providing an equal chance of success to



Darren Stehle

Empowering change-makers in critical thinking: Align with your values, develop self-mastery, and contribute to an equitable & just society.