The problem with “Nice Culture”

Photo by  Caleb Woods  on  Unsplash

Photo by Caleb Woods on Unsplash

I saw this funny video the other day where two adult friends catch each other on a run one day.

The conversation goes a little like this:

  • “Oh my god, it’s so good to see you!”
  • “We should hang out some time”
  • “Yes! When are you free?”
  • “Ugh I’m so busy this week, but I’m definitely free next week”
  • “Shoot, the next six months are CRAZY busy at the office”

And so on.

I laughed my ass off, because it’s happened to me so many times. And that’s fine! But what is the underlying message being said here? What is each person trying to communicate here?

Essentially each of these people are trying to say:

  1. I’m important, look how busy I am
  2. I want to signal that I care about the relationship, so I don’t hurt your feelings
  3. But also that you’re just not that high a priority to move my schedule around for

It’s a really comfortable thing to say, because saying the truth of “I don’t want to catch up with you unless it’s convenient” is really hard to say if you are a part of nice culture — where it’s better to be nice, than to be honest.