BLISSfix Book Review – “Don’t Be Nice, Be Real” by Kelly Bryson

January 2, 2010 at 5:50 pm 1 comment

Don’t Be Nice, Be Real  by Kelly Bryson

It’s only fitting that I should start here in my 14 days of blogging on Compassionate Communication (aka NonViolent Communication or NVC), as this is where it began for me.  I had had a series of events in my life that had revealed several truths:  1) my pleasing nature wasn’t pleasing anyone  and driving me insane in the process and 2) I had been living the life of a pleaser for so long, I didn’t know how to function peacefully without it.  It was as if I was operating on the belief that I could either try to read everyone’s minds and attempt to make them happy and work overtime to give them what they wanted, or I could stand up for what I wanted and be a Bitch.  Why is it that my upbringing gave me only two archetypes as a woman… pushover or bitch?  And to be completely honest, bitch wasn’t working for me.  I wasn’t even being an aggressive bitch, but I was finding all sorts of physical and verbal conflict just by stating my opinion firmly.

It was clear I needed to do something to learn how to operate out of my old pleaser paradigm.  My first thought was to look into martial arts, so I could at least defend myself against an attacker should my words come to that.  But that didn’t feel quite right either… I didn’t believe in enemies, and I was honestly shocked that I was attracting so many just by having an opinion.   And I love that whenever I ask an earnest question from my heart, an answer always arrives… and that’s what happened when I visited COLORS Center for Spiritual Living in Charlotte for the first time and found this book in their bookstore.

It was like a light bulb went on and I thought, “Oh, a third option… nice, bitch and REAL!” 🙂

So here’s my review: I cannot speak for the entire book, as I only read half of it, because I only read books as long as they are serving me and then I move onto the next that is calling my name.  However I will speak fondly of what I did read.  Chapter 1, entitled Don’t Pay the Price of Being Nice, is covered in my pencil scratch and notes from the multiple levels of which it resonated with what I was searching for.  A way to end my cycle of being nice, only to fail those around me and myself.  He talked about how as children we are trained in school and by our parents to conform to the needs of others (namely adults) through punishment, reward and peer pressure and that this training causes many of us to be ‘other-directed’ the rest of our lives.  Bryson does a great job of pulling quotes from experts in the fields of psychology and the human potential movement and blending them seamlessly with his own thoughts and points.   As I read this first chapter I could feel how angry Bryson is that we have evolved this direction, which made me want to raise my sword and scream “FREEDOM,” too.  Although, sometimes I felt his anger clouded his vision and he would make loose points that I didn’t fully agree with, which then seemed to invalidate some of his stronger points.  My favorite thing about Bryson’s writing is his ability to bring humor into play with his well researched passion for a new way of being.  Truly, it might be the most entertaining book I’ve read in the self-help category.  It’s full of one-liners, puns, play-on-words, and comedic relief.  I scored 100% on his list of “you might be a ‘nice’neck if!”

I also really appreciate how many examples Bryson provides when teaching his concepts of NVC, because in each one I’m able to relate to the different characters and imagine myself in their shoes and sense how the situation can be changed through my compassionate responses.

In the end, the reason I stopped reading is because Bryson is an imperfect teacher.  His passionate anger and ability to make fun of these topics can sometimes seem as if he’s missing his own point.  Once Bryson had helped me see the error in my ways, I was ready for a teacher that could not only tell me about the way things “should” be, but also model it for me in every word and action.  I also felt guilty every time I judged him for it, and felt like I wasn’t living the compassion either.

In summary:

+ Bryson is humorous, a talented writer, and passionate about the topic, and the book is well-researched, full of great examples and thorough.

– Bryson in some ways fails to live what he teaches, and although 95% of his points are valid, it’s the 5% where he stretches a bit that cause the entire argument to weaken.

All in all, I would highly recommend this book to others, especially those who feel they might be a ‘Nice’neck! 🙂

MORE REVIEWS of Don’t Be Nice Be Real By Kelly Bryson: Amazon’s Customer Reviews


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A new year… A new commitment to compassion. BLISSfix loves Marshall Rosenberg

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. joycereview  |  January 3, 2010 at 12:55 am

    Heather. A fine blog and insight on a book that I might just get around to reading myself. As you and others may know…the way of martial arts has been my road for a long time. It gives a certain level of confidence to you, but inwardly builds a hostile nature (unless it is a ‘gentle’ art like taiji, yoga,etc). But if you or others that try the martial arts come to understand it, and seek to find ways within yourself of dealing with both external and internal conflict, you won’t believe the progress you’ll make.

    I’ll be coming out with a new book in February that will dive more into this, but you might want to read The Art of Fighting Without Fighting by Geoff Thompson. You can get a free downloadable copy by subscribing to his newsletter from his website (his-name-dot-com). There is some great psychology in there and at the same time, gives you a firm foundation in dealing with aggression.

    Men don’t really have to worry too much about being called a bitch… because the term switches to “assertive.” There is obviously, overly-assertive men out there… but I’ve found that women don’t get their opinion’s heard equally…for several reasons,… but one being the lower voice. Women in conversation and debate (among mixed groups) should try amping up the volume and intention in their voice, talk more with their face, hands, and body movement. If someone steps over you, don’t back down, and amp your voice a notch over the interruptor. You’ll find that the attention will be directed back to you… the prime speaker. Just something to try! Great article. -MJ (ChenCenter.Com)


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