If your decisions are driven by the fear of being perceived as a jerk, you’re a very good candidate for becoming the kind of person who will be perceived as a jerk.
Don’t be a jerk. But don’t be obsessively governed by the fear of being seen as a jerk. Both paths lead to the same place.
Besides the deliberate and arbitrary effort to be mean, nothing is more mean than the blanket refusal to do what needs to be done just because it might be misunderstood as being mean.
Avoid unnecessary conflict, but don’t let the discomfort of conflict stop you from seeking truth and creating change. Be judicious, but don’t be spineless. Be kind, but don’t be cowardly.