Can nice women get ahead at work?


The word "nice" often gets a bad rap, especially for women in the workplace, with studies showing that women who display acts of niceness on the job can often be viewed as less competent. Kindness — often viewed as a feminine quality — has been "systematically devalued" in the workplace, not just setting women up to fail, but also setting companies up to fail.

This has damaging ramifications for us all, argues Sara Todd who wrote an article about this for Quartz. Studies show that women who act friendly and warm in the workplace are often viewed as less competent, regardless of their actual abilities.

“For women who conform in certain ways to the expectation that women are friendly and warm, the consequence for them is that their skills can be overlooked,” notes Marianne Cooper, a sociologist at the VMware Women’s Leadership Innovation Lab at Stanford University and the lead researcher for Sheryl Sandberg’s bestseller Lean In.

Honestly, this is frustrating. We teach our children to “be nice”’, “play nice”, and “act nice”... but then it is mocked in the workplace. Why do we do this? In my circumstance or run in with this... I realized that yes, sometimes I do need to stop being nice. This is what I hear: “You know, nice just doesn’t work”...”nice guys finish last”.

Despite hearing this so much over my professional career... really, all the time.... I feel like building deep meaningful relationships with others is my secret sauce as a leader. When shit hits the fan in someone’s personal life... who do they talk to? The nice one.

It’s all from being nice and kind to others. Women in the world... if you are working on a team or under a leader that does not value playing nice... leave. Work on finding an environment where your best traits shine. Being nice is a strength and always will be.

Is it better to seem nice and be underestimated, or to seem smart and be disliked? What a bonkers concept - it’s possible to be warm AND accomplished (these are not mutually exclusive qualities).

Have you ever felt underestimated at work because people think you're nice? Leave a comment below with your thoughts!

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