This IS mah nice face!
Here at Cranky Fitness we ipso facto don't advocate people being too damn cheerful. (Notice how I slipped a little Latin in there? That's my way of trying to make the blog look classy and impress people.)
Warning: more Latin phrases (quasi-Latin, anyway) will be appearing shortly.
But there's a difference between "too damn cheerful" and "negative to the point of being hurtful." We advocate a Zen approach to fitness: the middle path between obsequiously nice and vitriolically mean. (Or at least that's what I mean by a Zen approach on Tuesdays. On another day, the definition might be different.)
You'll find a lot of good advice on ways to deal with people who have a negative mindset and believe in sharing misery. When it's overt behavior, that's easy enough to deal with. But what do you do when you're surrounded by people who are "Nice"? Not all types of "Nice" are positive-minded or genuinely helpful -- they can even be harmful, all the more so because they operate under the cover of kindness. You need to be prepared.
There are many sub-categories, but here are the basic 7 Types of Nice:
sincerely nice [Latin: Niceous Sincerei] The really irritating thing about this type is that you can't find any reasonable reason to be irritated with them. They really want to help you if you're having a hard day, and if you're ever in a bad situation, you can count on this one to cover your back. Just avoid them first thing in the morning and everything will be fine. (They're invariably chipper in the morning.)
wannabe nice [Latin: Niceous Aspirei] Though he generally thinks you're an idiot, this person takes the time to answer foolish questions (often found in software companies working with ignorant technical writers). Will help at the gym with adjusting weights or explaining how to use a tricky piece of equipment.
because it's expected nice [Latin: Niceous DeRigeurei] She'll bring a hostess gift to a party, even if it's a potluck, because That's The Way Things are Done. Note: according to experts, it is not advisable to wear white shoes after Labor day if you are going to be in this person's vicinity.
so long as it's not an effort nice [Latin: Niceous StatusQuois] The type who would help a little old lady cross the street, so long as he was going to cross the street anyway. Will hold the door open for you if he's going into the gym right before you. Won't hold the elevator if he's in a hurry.
Watch out, anything below this line is potentially harmful.
passive-aggressive nice [Latin: Niceous Backstabi] This type acquiesces if you ask them a favor, but underneath they hide a seething cauldron of resentment that can spill over into acts of petty irksomeness when you least expect it. Superficially can resemble Niceous Sincerei, but can be distinguished by morose silences, hurt sighs, and the response "No, nothing's the matter." Siiiiiiigh.
whiplash nice [Latin: Niceous D'Escalieri] This type specializes in double talk that doesn't sting until you've left. You'll be driving home after the party, and suddenly think "Oh, that's what he meant."
Often recognized in the wild by the silence created when you walk into the room and the averted glances ("Who me? Talk about you? Never! Nice outfit, by the way. Those lycra bicycle pants really cover your stretch marks, don't they? You can hardly see them at all.") Typical retort: "All I said was..." accompanied by a hurt look.
Best way to deal with this species: Take their words at face value. They'll either think you're too stupid to appreciate their wit (and do you really care what they think?) and leave you alone, or they'll get frustrated into evolving into an even nastier type of "Nice." Or maybe, just maybe, they'll modify their behaviour and become a nicer person. It's possible that this behavior can be the result of a habit that degenerated from attempts to be witty. (Cf. the upcoming blog post, Types of Witty.)
emotional-sniper nice [Latin: Niceous AK47ei] When this one speaks, be wary. The words seem nice. On paper, the remark would seem harmless, or at least not-ill intentioned. But there's a look in the eyes, the 'accidental' probing of a sore spot while watching you intently, that's more like an emotional sniper looking for a vulnerable area. Never found in the vicinity of Niceous Sincerei, but has been known to associate with Niceous D'Escalieri.
Most experts recommend not engaging this type at all, if possible. If an encounter is inevitable, you are advised to treat questionable comments as humor. Nothing disconcerts this type so much as a trill of laughter and the words "Oh, you and your sense of humor!" or words to like effect. Warning: Do not show weakness, as they become remorseless at the tiniest whisper of a whimper.
It's important to distinguish between these types because they're out there... right now... maybe even lurking on this site, who knows. There have been confirmed sightings of Niceous D'Escalieri at backyard barbecues ("Are you having another piece of chicken? How wonderful to be able to eat anything and not care...") or Niceous Backstabi at the gym ("No, I don't mind if you change the channel to Wrestling ... even though it tends to make me feel ill ... don't mind me... of course, you will explain things to the paramedics when I faint, won't you?").
You might have noticed that there aren't any expert opinions on how to approach passive-aggressively nice types. That's because the experts were evenly divided between a gag (applied to the 'nice' person) or earplugs (applied to the victim). Neither sounded particularly useful to me, so I thought I'd ask the expert readers ... um, I'm looking at you ... how they deal with this type of person.
Yes, I did mean you over there. Who else would I ask?