What three “gifts” would you give a 20-something if you were a “Forty-Godmother”? Here 40-somethings share three wishes to help a 20-something get a head start on the confidence to make decisions that are right for them (not their parents, friends, teachers or society). No more woulda, coulda, shoulda.
Today’s three wishes are from Fran Hauser and her book, The Myth of the Nice Girl: Achieving A Career You Love Without Becoming A Person You Hate. I just love that sub-title. I see so many women struggle with being kind at work versus the sense that to assert themselves they need to develop a tough demeanor (that doesn’t always feel like themselves). I believe we shouldn’t confuse being assertive with being a bitch and we shouldn’t be called a “bitch” for being aggressive. It’s a fine line women have to balance (that we shouldn’t have to!).
That’s why I loved Fran’s book so much. This is the one type of having it all that I can sign up for: being nice and strong, being kind and powerful, being ambition and vulnerable. For more on Fran and key takeaways from the book check out this great post by Karin Eldor: here.
Here are my three favorite takeaways (excerpted from Karin’s post)
People pleasing is not the same as being nice. People pleasing is not kind: in fact, veering into people-pleasing territory is a form of self-sabotage.
By being afraid to give feedback to your team (to avoid confrontation), delaying check-ins with your boss before an important project (to avoid bothering your manager), or saying yes to unmanageable deadlines (to avoid disappointing your boss or client), you are “sweeping things under the rug to avoid making waves.” Use your voice and be assertive, to make the right kind of waves.
Nice = empathy + abundance. Nice seems like a generic, simple word, but it stands for a whole lot more. One of Hauser’s goals with the book was to unpack the term. “Being nice means being empathetic, collaborative and having confidence that there are enough opportunities to go around. Because that makes you generous, right? That’s more of an abundance mentality.”
Nice leads to long-term wins. When you are genuinely nice and walk the talk by showing empathy and gratitude, you cultivate relationships. And as a result, people will want to work with you and help you. It’s the basis for networking, a key factor that can propel your career.
Hauser explains: “Sometimes, when you play that game of the ‘Mean Girl’, you might get the win in the short-term, but you may end up burning bridges that will hurt you in the long-term. Also, I really want women to feel that they can bring their whole self to work. Why should we have to check qualities like kindness at the door?”
Thanks to Fran and Karin! I particularly love the idea of empathy and abundance as it relates to long term relationships. When someone challenges you, there’s a tendency to protect your ground and defend…especially when you work in a male dominated field and are trying to prove yourself. Sometimes taking a moment to understand where the challenge is coming from and think about what if you were in that person’s shoes…..what approach could build a new bridge rather than burn it?