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“The Myth of the Nice Girl” by Fran Hauser

Published This article is more than 2 years old.

Full title: The Myth of the Nice Girl: Achieve a Career You Love Without Becoming the Person You Hate

Year first published: 2018

Number of pages: 227

Who it’s for: Women who feel they face an impossible double standard. They’re told that they can’t be perceived as too nice if they want to be successful, but if they voice their opinion too loudly, they’re labeled “bitches.”

The big idea: Formerly the president of digital for magazines such as Time, InStyle, and People, Hauser is now an investor who supports and advises female-led start-ups. She argues that the idea that nice women can’t be successful is just a myth and offers advice on how to make niceness work for you.

Five things worth learning

  1. Nice is your superpower. As Hauser says, being nice is actually an asset to you and your company. Nice women, she notices, have great people skills and pay attention to everyone’s emotions and needs. Through these talents, they are able to achieve what they want. Contrary to the stereotypes, nice women also make great leaders who can inspire others to do better.
  2. Being too nice is risky. Even though niceness can be an asset, nice women are in real danger of becoming pushovers when they don’t want to speak up in meetings or take the initiative on projects. They are also much more likely to be plagued by insecurity and impostor syndrome, which might exacerbate the issue, and to be ignored in meetings, passed over for promotions, and seen as not having an opinion. But these risks can be reduced by speaking up, being more assertive and being outgoing—all of which can be accomplished while remaining nice.
  3. Find a mentor. Hauser advises all women to find a mentor who can help them make decisions, make the necessary connections to help them get ahead at their workplaces or just offer advice. While for many women, their bosses are a natural choice, this may not always be the case.
  4. It’s a great time to be nice. People skills and connections are becoming increasingly relevant in today’s economy, and nice women excel at those more than anyone else. A recent study in Harvard Business Review from 2016 showed that the so-called extra milers, or people who contributed beyond the scope of their work descriptions can drive performance for the whole team. Moreover, nice people may have the exact skills necessary to make things work in a diverse team.
  5. Be nice to yourself, too. Caring for everyone is exhausting, and so it’s important to turn down projects that may not be advancing your career and stand up for yourself when you’re consistently asked to take care of things like making coffee or organizing snacks for everyone. Instead, protect your time voraciously. Set boundaries and make sure no one, not even your boss, oversteps them.

Quote it: “There is real power hidden in traits like empathy, kindness, and compassion that are undervalued in the business world. When coupled with an appropriate dose of savvy and ambition, these overlooked superpowers can help launch your career to the top.”

Read, Skip or Skim? If you’re a woman who has been told, repeatedly, that you’re too nice but still want to get ahead in your career while owning your niceness, it’s a definite read.

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