So, you’re a Nice Guy…
If you’ve been doing some online research about Nice Guy Syndrome, or maybe read Dr Robert Glover’s book No More Mr Nice Guy (or similar), you might be starting to consider getting some support for making the changes you want to make.
Identifying that you have Nice Guy Syndrome is half the battle, but if you’re like most guys, the idea of recovering from this problem may seem daunting and overwhelming. Odds are, you’re suffering from a number of chronic issues that are so regular and frequent that until recently you just thought they were normal.
- Avoiding confrontation and conflict
- Suppressing emotions and pretending to be OK all the time
- Seeking approval and validation from others, and needing their feedback to feel good about yourself
- Self-sacrifice; giving up your preferences to suit what others want
- Being passive and submissive in your romantic relationships, and finding your partner is increasingly unsatisfied with you as a husband or boyfriend (or struggling to even start a relationship)
- Getting bullied by your bosses, parents, and even your friends
- Feeling intense build up of resentment, sometimes leading to rage outbursts
- Performance anxiety in the bedroom
- Perfectionism, and having your self confidence rise and fall depending on your successes and failures
- Using manipulation to get what you want due to fear of rejection
- Lack of integrity and honesty
- A sense that people wouldn’t like you if you weren’t impressive, funny, helpful etc.
- Being surrounded by friends you don’t really like
- Loss of self identity – not really knowing who you are because you pretend so often to be someone you’re not
- Believing that it’s your job to keep everyone happy
And this is barely scratching the surface! It can seem like too much work to undo all of these habits and patterns, and there can be a fear that this is who you really are.
The idea of completely changing how you engage with others – changing who you fundamentally are – is intimidating and might feel impossible. However, it can be done with the right support.
Coaching is the most effective way forward
I know I’m biased in saying this, given that I’m a coach who works with Nice Guys, but honestly I believe that recovering from this issue is incredibly hard on your own, yet fairly reasonable and realistic with the right coach or mentor to guide you.
I did most of my recovery work on my own, because back when I was working on this there really wasn’t any support out there for guys like us. Psychologists and therapists generally don’t understand Nice Guy Syndrome, and coaching is what’s needed more anyway – therapy focuses on finding causes and understanding trauma, while Nice Guys really need to focus on changing their behaviour.
I see my clients make the same progress in 3 months that it took me 7 YEARS to do on my own. Yes, you can do it all on your own with books and courses and trial-and-error. But it’s Hell, honestly. You can skip so much pain and confusion and wasted time by getting coaching support.
And it’s especially important to get support if there are urgent high-stakes situations, like you’re about to lose your wife or job due to people-pleasing, or you’re crashing emotionally, or you’re starting to get too old to waste time learning how to connect with others for dating, etc.
What happens in coaching?
Obviously it depends on the coach, but I can tell you what it’s like with me.
Firstly, we investigate exactly how Nice Guy Syndrome manifests specifically in your life. There are different types of Nice Guys and this syndrome plays out slightly differently for everyone. We need to first identify your unique version of this, what issues and pain it causes you, what strengths you have, and what most needs to change.
Then we will use each session to slowly replace your people-pleasing beliefs and behaviours with confidence and integrity. This means identifying how you see the world and challenging ideas that make you think you must be nice to get your needs met, then setting up “homework” style behavioural experiments to try new ways of doing things.
We will work with your specific levels of awareness and courage. You will slowly peel back the layers of your mindset and discover your core values – the principles you wish you lived by – and then set you up to change the way you behave, which will be uncomfortable but not terrifying.
Along the way you’ll learn meta-concepts, like how to figure out what is the right thing to do in any situation, how to become consistently more courageous over time, how to handle conflict and manage your emotions, and how to let go of your attachment to other people’s approval.
The sessions themselves will consist of a reflection over what’s happened most recently, and from there we will identify the next issue that needs to be addressed. As you engage in behavioural change, whatever most needs to be worked on will make itself known quite obviously. The story basically writes itself.
We might also occasionally do some “training” style sessions, where you’ll learn specific skills. This includes things like managing manipulation from others, connecting deeply with people through powerful honesty techniques, effective confrontation tactics, leadership principles in the workplace, and creating a career that is aligned with your values.
Will it be hard?
If the coaching is done right, you can expect to experience more discomfort emotionally than you’re used to. But it should never be too hard for you to handle. The coach should match you in terms of pace and intensity, so that you’re always making progress without being overwhelmed or confused.
One of the worst elements to Nice Guy Syndrome is the desire for a “smooth problem-free life”. This can extend to coaching, where a Nice Guy hopes to somehow quickly recover from this syndrome and become a powerful man without experiencing any pain, frustration, rejection, failure or confusion.
Sorry, but that’s just not a reasonable expectation!
You will have to face your fears in real-life interactions. You will have some people react “badly” to your new behaviours. You might lose some bad-fit friends, or even have to consider a career change. You will have some mind-altering insights that question things you’ve strongly believed in your entire life.
So yes, it will be hard. In the same way that physical workouts cause sore muscles, the earlier stages of the coaching can feel like your life is getting “worse” rather than better, even as you witness progress in your confidence, social connections, and overall lifestyle.
But you must remember: you’re already extremely uncomfortable on a regular basis! You already feel depressed, anxious, lost, rejected and alone most of the time. Whatever coaching puts you through won’t be worse than that, just different.
How long will it take?
Firstly, it’s hard to say. Everyone is different, which is why I do a monthly subscription model, allowing clients to change the frequency of the coaching or quit whenever they feel is right for them.
Some of my clients are fully “sorted” in about 3 months, because they only have a light version of the syndrome, and/or they have great support from their partner, and/or they’re bold action-takers who enjoy accelerated progress, and/or they just want one specific issue solved (e.g. erectile dysfunction or a relationship break up).
Others do intensive work for a while, then take a break to work on their own, and then come back to me periodically to solve new issues as they arise.
And I have other clients who have been working with me for a year or more, either because they njoy the accelerated progress and accountability of always having me in their corner, or because they have a severe degree of this syndrome and need intensive foundational work that just takes time (e.g. traumatic childhoods, comorbidity with ADHD and autism, extremely difficult living environments etc.)
All I can say for sure is that you should always be in full control of how much coaching you do and how much you invest. I never pressure my clients to do anything, however I do give honest opinions on what they should expect (once I’ve gotten to know their case and can make a diagnosis).
What results can I expect from the coaching?
The coaching is aimed at essentially replacing Nice Guy beliefs and behavioural patterns with healthy masculinity, social confidence, and most of all, integrity.
This means you can expect to witness certain changes that all clients have, and then specific changes unique to your situation.
General improvements most clients experience:
- Increased bravery and ability to endure emotional discomfort
- Comprehensive understanding of your unique core values
- More honesty and integrity, leading to healthier connections
- Higher levels of confidence and self-respect
- Improved romantic relationships, more genuine friendships, and stronger boundaries with work colleagues
- Clarity and certainty about who you are, what you’re doing with your life, and what matters to you
- Reduction of contact with toxic people
- Healing of childhood trauma wounds
And you might have improvements that are more specific to your situation, such as:
- Set strong boundaries with dysfunctional family members
- Cure erectile dysfunction
- Successfully repair your marriage or bring it to an amicable conclusion
- Learn how to approach and attract new people for dating and friendships
- Leave current job to start new career path or your own business
- End addiction to substances, porn, gambling or other harmful coping mechanisms
It’s again different for every guy, as everyone has different values and wants to focus on certain changes more than others.
But whomever the coach is you hire, you should feel that there is no doubt that you’re getting your money’s worth, and that you can accurately measure the improvements in your self-worth, social relationships, and career success.
How can I explore coaching without taking a big financial risk?
Again, I can’t speak for other coaches, but with me I use a couple of tactics to keep my clients safe.
Firstly, I have 1 or 2 free trial sessions with new potential clients. I don’t sell coaching, I just coach them as if they’re already a client. The coaching should speak for itself. I also insist on measurable homework actions that allow us to see if you’ll actually change your behaviour so that we know you’ll make real progress (to avoid being fooled by the good feelings of a coaching session).
Secondly, as I’ve already mentioned, I don’t sign people up to “programs” for a set amount of sessions. The most they’re committed to is 1, 2 or 4 sessions for the next month, and they can end it at any time. I generally don’t work with people that I’m not 100% sure will benefit from the coaching, but if I mistakenly end up with someone like that, they can just quit, and if it’s early on I usually just refund them (early quitters are rare because I carefully screen potential clients for compatibility).
Thirdly, I’m happy to connect you with current and previous clients for private conversations where you can ask them questions and get a sense of whether I’m right for you.
And lastly, we will frequently and regularly measure your progress as objectively as possible, to ensure real improvements are taking place. This often takes the form of “I used to do X in this situation, but now I do Y” to show that your behaviour is transforming into something you’re more proud of.
There are lots of Nice Guy specialist coaches out there, so if you don’t want to work with me there are still plenty of options. That being said, I’ve been doing this since 2013 and am a Nice Guy in recovery myself, so I generally get the job done pretty well. I feel confident in guaranteeing satisfaction if you’re currently in the right mindset for some brave changes.
If you’d like to explore further coaching with me, check out my application form here: