When executives sit down to write their memoirs, they generally focus on their achievements: which products they created, which companies they made successful, which mistakes they learned from, and so on. They very rarely spend much ink on how nice they were during their time in the sun. The problem, of course, is that women are raised to be nice — something that can hold them back later on, should they decide to become big figures in the business world.
After reading Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In, Learnvest’s Amy Keyshian isolated nine times at work when being nice isn’t really necessary, and can in fact hold people (especially women) back.
Here are a few familiar examples:
1. Accept less money.
Whether it’s billing fewer hours in order to make clients “like” you, or accepting the first salary you’re offered, women have a tendency to undersell themselves financially. One of Sandberg’s male colleagues once told her to “bill like a boy” — meaning, charge for any time spent thinking about the project, even in the shower.
2. Wave off praise.
Women are conditioned not to accept compliments. Many of us feel arrogant if we don’t at least attempt to deny that we’re worthy of praise. Instead, Sandberg advises women to acknowledge the compliment.
3. Smile, smile, smile.
If you’re female, try this experiment: walk down a busy city street with a frown on your face, and see how long it takes someone to tell you to smile. We’re socialized to expect women to be ingratiating and pleasant, but wearing a phony grin all the time wears on a person.
Instead of wearing a fake grin, Sandberg encourages workers to take a genuine interest in each other’s lives. Real connection tops fake good cheer any day.
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