Why nice girls fail in business

Many women will find themselves faced with the same dilemma at some stage in their career. To be the nice girl, aka: the pushover, or the character from Devil Wears Prada.

This ‘either-or’ dichotomy is severely outdated, but stereotypes are hard to shake. Consider this though: let’s do away with both altogether.

We don’t need to come across ice cold to succeed, but also that so-called feminine sweetness we’ve been brought up to emulate could be the very thing that holds women back.

One of the biggest mistakes women make in business is in drawing too much from the stereotypical ‘good girl’ persona and these are the five traits that let the nice girls down, every time.

1. They assume people are always genuine

This is an awkward one. Sometimes you will have an immediate rapport with another person you meet in business; but other times, people shower you with faux niceties purely to score information about you and the company. Always err on the side of caution, trust your gut instinct and be guarded about disclosing business strategies or personal weaknesses to employees, peers, contractors and clients.

2. They complete other peoples’ work

If you are an intuitively helpful person, it is easy to become ‘that girl’ who is constantly staying back to finish someone else’s work, or even worse, taking the blame for a mistake of a colleague. It’s a nice girls’ natural instinct to reach out and assist, and in completing other people’s tasks, whether it be because they have yet another headache, or must pick up their child from daycare, you feel you are doing a good deed. But consistently picking up the pieces for your colleagues will put you at a disadvantage. People will notice this and begin relying on you to ease their own workload and will end up negatively impacting your ability to complete your own tasks – ain’t nobody got time for that!

3. They don’t gloat about their achievements

Sometimes we do fabulous work and its normal to want to talk about it. Reveling in a win at work is no different to someone talking about their hot new car, cute toddler or romantic boyfriend (all things I find less interesting anyway). If you’ve achieved a goal, or you got a great deal, tell your boss about it. It is true that your work should speak for itself, but humility is boring.

4. They want everyone to like them

This isn’t high school and there’s no award for being the most liked person in your cubicle. You will need to share an office with people you don’t mesh well with and be able to work with them effectively without taking things personally. If Jessica at reception rolls her eyes at you or Paul in accounts butts into your conversations and makes you want to cry – just snap out of it! Let it go and focus on what is directly in front of you and the people you actually do get along with.

5. They aren’t loud or disagreeable

When I was younger I would sit in meetings and listen to others and think, ‘I could have answered that’ or ‘I don’t agree with that’ but I never spoke up. Why? I was meek, inexperienced and concerned about what others would think. Bottom line, I didn’t want to sound stupid. Years of formal education and mountains of experience later, I now never hesitate (sometimes to my own detriment – but that’s ok too). It takes time to build up your confidence to the point where you are comfortable, however never forget the saying ‘You wouldn’t worry so much about what people thought of you, if you realised how seldom they do’.

About the Author

Written by Alexandra Tselios, Founder and Publisher of The Big Smoke, Australia’s newest opinion site. Alexandra has a diverse background in corporate, public and creative fields and is passionate about seeing Australian businesses become commercially viable.

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