How to keep your instinct to “play nice” in check

Deborah Sweeney | May 23, 2012 | Comments (1)

Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation. A graduate of Pepperdine law & business schools, she is also a mother, wife and small business owner. Follow her on Twitter .

Unlike men, when a woman makes the conscious choice to join the business world she must also make the conscious choice of what sort of woman she wants to be in the business world.

If on the job a man has ‘softer qualities’ he is perceived as a pushover sort of person. Though if a woman possesses softer qualities, it is widely assumed she is the way she is due to her natural femininity. So, a man is soft because he is a soft person, a woman is soft because she is a woman.

To be seen as a strong woman or a smart woman or a strategic woman, and not just a “woman in business,” a female person must make some choices.

I have always been seen as a nice woman, not only in business but throughout my schooling and in my personal life as well. Surprisingly, this is one quality I wish wouldn’t have followed me as hard as some of my other more ‘business friendly’ qualities, such as strong-willed, or business-minded.

Don’t get me wrong, being nice is great when going through school or getting together with friends, but the quality should be used carefully in business, especially when coming from a woman.

Women are more biologically nurturing and concerned about how their actions affect other people naturally, so it’s important to keep that particular characteristic in check.

Here’s why:

If you are successful in whatever it is your business does, of course people are going to be drawn to you and want to do business with you; they want to share in your success. But if you are a particularly ‘nice’ person it will almost always be expected of you to sit through hours and hours of lunch pitches if you have the time—and why wouldn’t you? You’re successful and you’re nice!

However, these lunches tend to add up time-wise and eight times out of ten you don’t need whatever is trying to be sold to you.

In the past I have always said yes to lunch pitches. Though lately I have really been feeling the weight of the above-mentioned problems that come along with lunch.

Here’s a tip for saying no to lunches and taking a step toward getting rid of that ‘overly nice’ perception you’ve accidentally been slapped with:

Simply say you have a no-lunch policy. You don’ t have the time; you eat lunch at your desk anyway so you can work (which is in fact how I spend most all of my lunches—when I hear ‘lunch’ and ‘work’ I think ‘Tupperware’ automatically).

Of course if a lunch offer comes along that seems as if it is answering one of your many business prayers, make the exception. You’re a smart and successful business woman- you’ll know where they differ!

Tags: , , , lunch, men, MyCorporation, ,

Category: Women@Work

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  1. I would recommend the book ‘Sharpen Your Heels – Mrs. Moneypenny’s Career Advice for Women’ for more on this topic. It’s an important one and a difficult area for many women to navigate as most of us are still raised to be people pleasers.