"Nice" vs. "Social"

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    I didn't start this piece intending to write an article about an ethical issue, but the more I think about it, the more I see it as an issue of honor or integrity or, yes, ethics.

    Let’s say I work with two nurses -- “Kjirsti” who is polite, professional and very quiet. She eats her lunch in the breakroom and listens to the conversation, very rarely contributing anything personal. After she finishes eating she goes back out to the unit to give someone else a lunch break or to take care of her own work. No one really knows much about her because she doesn’t say much. And then there’s “Sheelah” who is always gabbing to someone. Everyone knows all about her boyfriend’s failure to produce an engagement ring in the time frame she had established, and then when he did propose the details of the cut, clarity and carets of her ring, the date time and venue of her wedding, the precise description of the appliques on her wedding dress and the colors of her bridesmaid dresses and the flowers and . . . . We all know a Sheelah. Everyone loves her -- they think she’s so NICE because she’s always got time to stop and chat with them for awhile. Kjirsti? She’s the quiet one . . . kinda strange, isn’t she? We never hear about her boyfriend -- she must be gay or something. Is she nice? Well, we don’t really know because we don’t know her very well. She must not be, or she’d be more social.

    Sheelah is social -- she’s always talking and everyone thinks she likes them. Yet the minute they step away, Sheelah turns to a friend, a co-worker or even a patient’s family member and says “I don’t know what his girlfriend sees in him . . . he’s such a loser!” Or “I’m going to tell the manager what Buford said about druggies” or “That Buford is always complaining!” Or something equally snarky and probably totally uncalled for.

    The thing is, “social” doesn’t necessarily mean “nice” and often doesn’t. Often a person is social because they genuinely like people and are interested in them, but it seems that nearly as often, people are social because they’ve identified that as a way to get ahead or to be popular or to achieve some other goal they’ve set for themselves. And that’s how we get taken in by the co-workers we think are our friends who then turn around and stab us in the back. It’s natural to like people who behave as though they like US . . . but people who behave as though they like us aren’t always our friends.

    I thought Sheelah was my friend . . . we got together after work for happy hour (at 8AM), we went camping together and tried every new restaurant in town and stood in line together for the second “Terminator” movie. She “ventilated” to me about the stresses of her job as assistant manager of our unit, and I thought she was just ventilating to me because we were friends. I didn’t realize what she was saying about me behind my back. I wouldn’t have DREAMED that she’d “stab me in the back.” Yet one day Kjirsti came quietly up to me and said “I think you ought to know what Sheelah is saying about you to the other nurses . . . “

    I was angry -- at Kjirsti. I couldn’t believe that Sheelah was badmouthing me behind my back . . . yet that seemed to be the story. None of my “friends” would tell me. Quiet Kjirsti was the only one who had the integrity to attempt to put an end to the gossip or to tell me what my “friend” was spreading around the unit -- a distortion of some very real and very personal information I’d shared with her over dinner one night.

    I have never understand what made Sheelah “turn on me.” Perhaps I never will. But maybe the better question is why I thought she was my friend to begin with. Because she was “social” and we did things together? Because I thought she was nice? Coming to tell me what was being said about me behind my back could not have been an easy thing for Kjirsti to do. And why would she bother? I’m not the most “social” person in the world, and I had hardly ever talked to her. Yet Kjirsti summoned up the intestinal fortitude to come and talk to me about a very difficult subject she knew was going to devastate me. What courage. And what honor.

    When my dog died and I was heartbroken, it wasn’t Sheelah who hugged me. And when I needed rides to the oncologist or switches for doctor’s appointments, it was quiet Kjirsti who came to my rescue. Time spent chatting isn’t the true measure of friendship or of whether or not someone is “nice.” I think integrity has more to to with both . . . but it’s more difficult to see. It requires some effort to get to know someone who isn’t chatty or “social.” Worth it, though. Oh, so worth it!
    Last edit by Joe V on Jan 24, '17 : Reason: formatting for easier reading - per contest rules
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  2. Visit Ruby Vee profile page

    About Ruby Vee, BSN, RN

    Ruby Vee isn't social but hopes she is honorable and maybe, just maybe, nice.

    Ruby Vee has '40' year(s) of experience and specializes in 'ICU/CCU'. Joined Jun '02; Posts: 13,240; Likes: 55,080.

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  3. by   greenfiremajick
    I've always said that I prefer quality over quantity when it comes to having friends.
  4. by   Ruby Vee
    Quote from greenfiremajick
    i've always said that i prefer quality over quantity when it comes to having friends.
    me too!
  5. by   Davey Do
    I sometimes wonder if our expectaction of others outweighs their abilities to invest in a relationship. We invest our time, energies, and resources into the relationship and recieve in return only what they are capable of giving. Often times, our investments doesn't equal the returns.

    If we can continue to look at relationships as investments ilike in stocks, it's really up to us where we choose to place our investments. Some stocks may look really good, as some people do, but end up bottoming out, as in your case, Ruby Vee.

    I write these words for myself as much as for you, Ruby Vee. I recently experienced a similar relationship setback, so I can commiserate. In reviewing the dynamics of the relationship, I realized my pain, in the loss of the relationship, was equal to the amount of time, energy, and resources I had invested.

    In retrospect, I see that there were indicators on how much this Individual could invest in a relationship. Somehow, I thought that I was special and this Individual wouldn't short-change me. But I tell you what: If someone has a inclination to do something to others, they have just as high of a propensity to do it with anyone else. And that includes you and me, Ruby Vee.

    It's like the character Joel Fleishman said to Maurice Minniefield when Story Writer Extraodinaire Adam ditched Maurice's newspaper in an episode of Northern Exposure: "You shouldn't be surprised when the Circus Showgirl runs off with the Strongman."

    I am usually hyper-cautious on just who and where I will invest my resources. But I saw this Individual as a fellow Artist and wanted to invest in this person's show. Support the Cause, so to speak. When this person got what they wanted, I got tossed out like old coffee grounds. Now, the kindered friendship I thought I had and a relatively large sum of money are gone.

    I came to the conclusion that the relationship was more than this Person could comfortably handle. In our relqationships, we all lost, Ruby Vee. But the Other People's loss is really quite sad. They have no idea as to the height they may have ascended to in knowledge and insight. And, they have to sleep with themselves and who they truly are. Whereas, we have our integrity intact, ready to fight the Good Fight.

    And, as the saying goes, "Once you've given up integrity, everything else is a piece of cake".

    Keep fighting the Good Fight, Ruby Vee. The best to you.

  6. by   Sehille4774
    Thank You for talking about this topic

    The nice person is looked upon as a personality flaw by HR/management types nowadays. The 'popular' person is the one who is more likely considered for advancement.

    Ironic. Becasue I went to college so I wouldn't have to win a popularity contest for career advancement.
  7. by   lululucy
    Sometimes, "true" friends are very hard to distinguish among just any friends. You have to be cautious and let time reveal who they really are as a friend. Personally, I detest friends, or just anyone, stirring up gossips, and I sympathize how you must have felt when you got the news, especially from a "friend" you value so much. Some people just don't have the same friendship values as you, and we just have to accept that. =]