I like nice people. I know you do, too. Hey, to be honest we’re just a couple of nice folks moving through each day the best that we know how. While this is certainly nice, it doesn’t always cut it if we want to achieve big goals.
Yes, there is no time like the present to be bold and strong and let your voice be heard. And yes, this is also the time we have to prioritize being nice. But do they play well together? At first blush, you may think you can’t have both. Yet in order to get ahead and get liked you need to find a delicate balance.
To help, here are four insights, and three powerful reads, from experts that can help you perfect the formula.
Don’t Sabotage Your Career: There’s an invisible line that many struggle to cross from friendship to leadership. This career advancement ladder often comes with a price. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Best-selling author, Lois P. Frankel, Ph.D. in her book Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office: Unconscious Mistakes Women Make That Sabotage Their Careers shares proven strategies that challenge the misconception of this zero-sum game. In this guide to excelling in your career, Frankel outlines behaviors that may be seemingly nice but could be sabotaging your success and how to avoid them. Along with coaching and valuable step-by-step lessons, Frankel teaches you how to move past your insecurities and confidently ask for what you deserve.
Don’t Sabotage Your Reputation: Your reputation is everything in life and business and when you sacrifice who you are to get ahead, it’s an unsustainable recipe for disaster. But there is hope and help for keeping your career reputation intact while excelling in your field. In The Myth of the Nice Girl: Achieving a Career You Love without Becoming a Person You Hate, financial investor, advocate and executive, Fran Hauser deconstructs the negative perception of “niceness” that many women struggle with in the business world. If women are nice, they are seen as weak and ineffective, but if they are tough, they are labeled a bitch. How can you find the sweet space between being nice and being firm without sacrificing your reputation and career? Hauser addresses this and other concerns all go-getters face when striving to be effective and empathetic.
Don’t Sabotage Your Self-Esteem: It all starts from within. When you’re ready to build healthy relationships that are mutually-beneficial and built on compassion and caring, then you will truly be successful. But when you prioritize pleasing everyone around you and being afraid of rejection you will always be the “nice” person who gets taken advantage of. Yes, you can still be kind and not be a pushover if you have healthy self-esteem and self-worth. According to Dr. Marcia Sirota M.D., “Being kind creates connection, happiness and success, whereas being nice leads to anger, frustration, alienation and even addiction.” In her book Be Kind Not Nice: How to Stop Pleasing People, Build Your Confidence and Discover Your Authentic Self, she teaches you the important distinction between kind and nice and how rebuilding your self-esteem is the key to a joyful, confident and successful life
Don’t Sabotage Your Voice: You have a voice for a reason. You deserve to be heard. And while being nice is certainly a very thoughtful gift to yourself and others, make sure you’re not taking a step back because you’re afraid to speak up, ask or rock the boat. Instead, find thoughtful ways to express yourself in meetings, in policies at the podium.
To be clear, I’m not saying you should ever abandon niceness for anything or anybody, but only reconsider timidity. As these authors have illustrated, there is a happy balance between nice and confident. Read these books and share your thoughts here on how you’ve maintained your niceness while still prioritizing personal and professional excellence.
Images Courtesy of Houghton Mifflin, Business Plus Hatchette & Dr. Marcia Sirota Ph.D