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Do you consider yourself a nice person?

Most people do. After all, our society, especially in the current politically correct and culturally sensitive era, puts a premium on being nice, and no more so than in the workplace.

It’s good to be nice—considerate, pleasant, cordial—and most of us can pull it off without overdoing it.

But if you’re a people-pleasing perfectionist who craves affirmation from co-workers and bosses, if you’re constantly putting other people’s needs before your own, if you always say yes and almost never utter no, then it can be tough to change your behavior. If anything, when others are full of praise for your always-willing-to-help attitude, those tendencies only get reinforced.

I should know. For most of my career, being nice has been part of my M.O. I’ve viewed being a good guy as a big part of who I am. What’s more, I’ve also felt that being nice was interwoven with my professional success.

It’s kind of like a job interview when you ask a prospective employee to identify her biggest weakness and she responds by saying that she works too hard. That ostensible liability is instantly moved over to the asset column.

The problem is that sooner or later being too nice is not only unsustainable, it’s downright detrimental, preventing you from taking a stance, from respectfully disagreeing, from even prioritizing a myriad of to-dos. It’s also fertile ground for miscommunication and resentment of others and yourself.

As they say in 12-Step programs, putting your own interests first is not selfish—it’s about taking care of your own business rather than being responsible for someone else’s. When I was a young eager pup at work, I was in need of constant pats of praise. As I get older, I berate myself for not catching this bad habit earlier.

Granted, it’s often easier to spot in our personal lives, where being too nice can be seen as weakness: being indecisive or too accommodating is a turnoff not just in dating, but also in long-term relationships. It’s a lot tougher to correct at work, because the dynamics are not always equal, and being nice is critical currency that everyone needs to spend on a daily basis. Being nice to bosses, clients, or customers is part of the job, but not all of the time.

Asking for a raise, requesting that an invoice be paid, clarifying that certain work is out of our scope, demanding that workers do a better job—these and other occasions are no time to be too nice. Respectful, yes, but overdoing the niceness can be a slippery slope in the wrong direction.

But what are the specific signs in discerning if you’re being too nice at work?

Are you a boss who gives raises and bonuses to others before you give them to yourself?

Do you usually end up just picking up the tab for drinks or lunch even though the other person offered to split it?

Are you an employee who cancels personal plans even though your boss gave you a last-minute assignment that can truly wait till tomorrow?

Are you an entrepreneur who would never dare miss meeting payroll for your employees, but will dip into personal savings, even money set aside for your kid’s college tuition, to fund the company through tough times?

Are you an entrepreneur who takes on an assignment that is not profitable, but you convince yourself that it is a good and noble cause?

Do you meet with people looking for work, sometimes a friend of a friend of a friend, because it’s the right thing to do, turning yourself into an unofficial career counselor?

Do you take calls and meetings from clients and spend too much time giving them free advice, allowing them to milk your connections?

Finally, do you network with people professionally and suddenly realize there’s little to no reciprocity?

The fact of the matter is, there is a quid pro quo in the work force. In the words of a late and beloved colleague from the advertising agency BBDO, Bruce Liebowitz, you need to make withdrawals from and deposits into the favor bank.

If you do all of the above, like I have at various points, you might be a nice guy. But it can also make you an angry guy, mostly angry at yourself for letting other people always be the priority. You often sacrifice your mental and physical health, and those you love most, for the random requests of strangers.

When you’re too nice to your kids, you’re described as a parent who’s spoiling their children. But in America, there’s no real word in our vocabulary to describe being too nice on the job. There should be.