Are workplaces becoming 'too nice'?

Can creating a relentlessly positive culture actually be toxic? Is the 'tyranny of niceness' undermining constructive conflict?

by Peter Crush
Is always being positive a negative?
Is always being positive a negative?

To those of a certain generation, being ‘cruel to be kind’ was perfectly justifiable. Social norms have changed thankfully, and workplaces have filtered out those managers for whom this phrase was a personal motto.

But has office life been replaced by the tyranny of niceness? Are people being relentlessly upbeat and overly optimistic, while shying away from the grittiness of errors, poor performance and failure to press for uncomfortable answers?

At social media management company, The Social Element, its boss Tamara Littleton thinks so. It was only after a doomed attempt to set up an Australian office, that she learned the rest of her team had never been behind it. But in a culture of positivity no-one felt empowered to share their misgivings. She says: “I created a cordial culture where everyone agreed to a bad decision. The ethos was too nice. We’d bred ‘toxic positivity'.”

Sign in to continue

Sign in

Trouble signing in?

Reset password: Click here


Call: 020 8267 8121



  • Up to 4 free articles a month
  • Free email bulletins

Register Now

Get 30 days free access

Sign up for a 30 day free trial and get:

  • Full access to
  • Exclusive event discounts
  • Management Today's print magazine

Join today