I’m not that nice! (No surprise there.) I just took the “Nice Girls Just Don’t Get It” self- assessment and I am “neither overly confident nor too nice.” And that’s a pretty good thing because according to Carol Frohlinger, author of the new book, “Nice Girls Just Don’t Get It,” nice is highly overrated. We call it the good-girl complex – that ingrained behavior we’ve learned from trying to be first a good daughter, then a good student, a good friend, a good employee, a good wife, and a good mother. And it can hold us back.
“Relationships should be reciprocal,” says Frohlinger, who also wrote the book “Her Place at the Table: A Woman’s Guide to Negotiating Five Key Challenges to Leadership Success” and co-founded Negotiating Women, Inc. And that reciprocity won’t happen if you’re more concerned with pleasing others than with addressing your own needs.
The challenge is silencing the dialogue in your head telling you to be a good girl that probably started in childhood and has been playing ever since. “Turn it off,” says Frohlinger, “and then end it.” Easier said then done. But if you have a clear picture of what happens when you change your behavior, it gets easier.
The opposite of nice isn’t bitch, despite what many want you to believe. “Others have a vested interested in maintaining the status quo,” says Frohlinger. No, the opposite of nice girl is “winning woman.” Frohlinger defines a winning woman as, “Someone who feels good in her own skin, values relationships, works hard to make sure relationships are solid, but not at her own expense.”
One step in becoming a winning woman is getting crystal clear about your non-negotiables. For me, time with my family and maintaining this blog are not up for discussion. Knowing these non-negotiables allow me to say no to anything that would interfere with the time I choose to spend at home or on my laptop. For example, my job requires me to attend events outside of the office and I enjoy the occassional night out with friends. But I limit myself to no more than two nights out per week. Period. No discussion. Also off the table: weekend getaways with friends – I can do that when the kids are grown, and volunteering at school events that I prefer to attend with my kids. In lieu of helping with PTO events, I run a fundraiser at the beginning of the school year. It’s something I can do on my own time -after the kids are in bed-and it allows me to make a contribution on my own terms.
You wouldn’t believe how many times during the school year I hear other mothers say, “I should really volunteer at that event. I feel guilty I haven’t helped this year.” Or maybe you would believe it. If you choose to volunteer at school – because it’s what you want to do – thank you. I appreciate how hard you work. If you don’t, let it go and figure out what will make you a winning woman.
Lest I sound preachy, let’s go back to the assessment. Remember, I am not too nice, but I’m not overly confident either. While I have no problem letting dirty dishes stay unwashed so I can do the things I like to do, I still hate to ask for raises, I often over-service my clients, and I lower my professional rates too easily. But I’m working on it.
Becoming a winning woman isn’t easy, but its doable. Start with the area of your life where it’s most comfortable and then go from there. Even learning to accept a compliment is an important first step says Frohlinger. “”It help you over time to build your own self esteem.” Taking credit at work is another key step. For more coaching on how to shed your niceness, check out, “Nice Girls Just Don’t Get It.”