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How to Get Over Nice Girl Syndrome

Women are traditionally raised to be nice, polite, compromising, not aggressive, and not pushy. Also, women tend to like people who like them, much like trying to please the cool girls in middle school. Unfortunately, that behavior can make women meek and avoid asking things even when they need, want, and deserve them.

If you’re stuck in a popularity contest mentality, it can hurt you. According to a study that compiled 20 years’ worth of data, women who were “disagreeable” in the workplace made 5% more than their colleagues who were friendlier and nicer. It’s one proof that nice girls finish last.

It’s something that comes more easily to men. They can be tough or demanding, and yet they would still be called good at business. On some days, others may call them a ballbuster, but that’s still coated with positivity.

A lot of women want to be perceived as nice. At the same time, they want to be known as smart, confident, and strong. They want to be able to ask for what they want, and still make a really good impression.

So, how do you get over your nice girl syndrome without going out of the line? Here are some tips that will help nice girls finish first.

Stick to Business and Don’t Take It Personally

“It’s not personal. It’s business.” This quote is from The Godfather, and Tom Hanks’ character quoted it about internet mail. Why do you have to remember this? It’s because not everyone you meet in your career will be a real friend. That would be nice, but it’s going to take a lot of work to happen. You would have to be pleasing everyone, and that’s exhausting and impractical.

When in business, there are a lot of things you shouldn’t take personally. It’s a business that should be managed efficiently, and that will only happen if people contribute. More often than not, women in business give people too many chances when they should have been gone a long time ago.

When you’re too nice, people can take advantage of you. Stick to business and know when it’s okay to give chances and when it’s time to let go.

Ask With Confidence

Understand and know what you want or need and ask for them with strength. Practice will help build your confidence. You can practice with a trusted friend. Speak clearly and look the other person straight into their eyes. You can be nice and confident at the same, and you don’t always have to finish last by being so.

Remember that often, it’s more about how you’re asking than what you’re asking. For example, if you want to ask for a pay increase at work, you can make a stronger case by presenting solid proof that you deserve it. You can point out how you’ve been performing in the past, so your manager can see that you’re a valuable part of the team.

When you have nice girl syndrome, you tend to postpone asking for what you want and deserve because you’re afraid to be perceived negatively. Sometimes you just have to go for it. Asking and not getting is better than not asking at all because you’ll never know. But if you ask, you have the chance to get what you want and the rewards can be much higher.

As long as you have the goods to back up what you’re asking, it’s not going to be a waste of time. Most nice girls would fidget and feel small when they meet someone who’s a “big deal.” You can overcome this when you realize that they’re like you. They have a job to do and probably little time to spare, so skip the hesitation and kissing up. Go straight to the point after you’ve introduced yourself.

Face Conflicts Head-On

Women with nice girl syndrome tend to find the nearest exit when people start arguing. Even when it’s a polite disagreement, they quickly plan for an exit strategy as fast as possible. If that’s not possible, they try to divert the topic. In other words, they hate conflict.

Women avoiding conflict is one of the classic symptoms of nice girl syndrome. It’s not a good thing to have in the workplace though if you want to get ahead. To overcome this, you shouldn’t run from conflict. You need to turn disagreements into problem-solving. You can do that by using supportive and neutralizing statements, such as “Let’s talk about how we can solve this together.”

Be confident when you approach the situation. Here are a few more quick tips from Karen R. Koenig who has been treating “nice girl” clients for years:

Talk with assertive women and ask them about how they get their needs met in the business. Learn from their experience and try to apply them in non-business situations. Eventually, you can become skilled at expressing what you need clearly and firmly.

Look for mentors at work who can guide you and help you grow into being more assertive. Ideally, you should have male and female mentors so you get the perspective of both sides.

Write down what you want to say in business situations. Practice speaking in front of a mirror until you’re comfortable with it. Take note that your posture can affect your delivery, so stand straight and lift your head.

Ask trusted colleagues to give you feedback about your behavior in meetings. Take note of the points for improvements and challenges in transforming yourself.

Review your goals and understand that unnecessary niceness can prevent you from reaching them.

You Can Overcome It

It’s a pleasant attribute to be nice, but having the nice girl syndrome can affect your career negatively. If you want to get ahead in the business world, you should overcome it. Stop running away from conflict, ask for what you want and need, and always remember that it’s business, nothing personal.

You can still be nice but confident. Start by believing that. Then keep in mind the tips discussed in this article. Start practicing, and eventually, you’ll see the difference it can make in your life.