Nice girls don’t win … or do they?

Have you ever heard the phrase “nice girls just don’t get it”? A book has even been written with a similar name.

Do you think this is true? Can nice girls win?

Apart from this statement being slightly condescending, I reckon nice girls can win. But let’s not talk about nice, let’s talk about being kind.

If you have been following this blog for some time, you will know that the values we hold dear at Emma McQueen are kindness and generosity. Notice I didn’t say “nice”. I find nice to be a “meh” word.

So did my client …

What does nice mean to you?

I was in a coaching session with Patricia, who had recently received some feedback from several stakeholders that she was “nice”. As she said the word, I could see her cringe. So, I asked her what definition she attached to the word “nice”. She told me that nice meant being a pushover, someone who wasn’t efficient, a people pleaser who couldn’t have difficult conversations.

The dictionary meaning of nice is “pleasing, agreeable, delightful”. All good qualities.

But this still bothered Patricia, and she wanted to get to the bottom of it. She felt the word “nice” had been used because there wasn’t a better word to describe her.

What happens when you are too nice?

When you are too nice, you can begin to feel invisible, as though you are being ignored or not taken seriously. Instead of working for you, it works against you.

I love this quote from Lois Frankel, the author of Nice Girls Just Don’t Get It:

“To get the things that you want in life, you need to take risks. You need to get outside your comfort zone and be willing to deal with other people’s discomfort, because if you spend your life making other people comfortable, you may feel good, but you’re not going to get what you really want.”

Patricia wanted to work on this “nice” perception her stakeholders had of her. Here is what she did to turn things around:

1. Did an audit of her diary
2. Stopped being quite as accommodating to requests
3. Took back control of her diary
4. Stopped people pleasing

Let’s unpack each step …

1. Did an audit of her diary

Patricia realised she was being asked to all these meetings no one else went to. She did some digging around and realised she did not have to be at those meetings, and her direct reports were more than capable of going.

2. Stopped being quite as accommodating to requests

Some days passed, and Patricia would wonder where the time had gone. She realised she’d been putting other people’s work priorities first and her own priorities last, which meant she rarely got to them. So, she started being more careful with the requests she took on.

3. Took back control of her diary

Patricia briefed her assistant on what she did and didn’t need in her diary so that she could get some time back.

4. Stopped people pleasing

So many women suffer from this issue. It comes from a range of places: our parents’ role modelling, what our family and friends expect of us, the habits we fall into. Patricia took a good, long look at herself and realised she was a people pleaser.

Patricia’s reality was that she needed to take control of the things she could and let go of all the rest. She looked at her past behaviour and identified a plan for her future self – someone who was efficient and kind, but not nice!

So, my question to you, dear reader, is this: Are you too nice? Does it bother you?

If so, reach out, and let’s chat!

I’m Emma, and I’m a business and executive coach who believes wholeheartedly in the potential of women. My coaching philosophy is simple- taking action leads to results- and I love working with women in business and in corporate roles to take their passion and drive and transform their professional and personal lives.

Be enthusiastic, optimistic and energetic, every day.

Em x

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