Who ever thought that being nice would work against our career advancement? It’s not just being nice that sabotages us in the workplace. It’s when you are so nice that everyone else comes first and you have an inordinate need for everyone to like you.

It may be our nature because of our upbringing to defer to others and consider others before ourselves. But it’s critical to understand how this type of behavior will sabotage your career and how you will become invisible in the workplace, lose respect and that others will perceive you as not being competent. In short, the nice girl behavior will hold you back from advancing your career.

When it comes to leadership, women face a cultural conundrum. Studies show that when women adopt certain behaviors believed to be essential to successful leadership such as assertiveness, they are evaluated more negatively than men. And when women behave in more “feminine” ways, such as being nice, they are perceived as less qualified than men.

That being said, if given the choice between being nice and being effective, most experts agree that women should choose to be effective.

Some tips on how to kick the Nice Girl habit:

  1. Identify what your “nice’ behavior patterns are and put a plan in place to monitor and modify this behavior.
  2. Ask a trusted colleague for continual feedback.
  3. Envision who you want to be and act accordingly.
  4. Detach. Detach from your need to be one of them and everyone’s best friend. Detach from your emotional response.
  5. Stay fact-based instead of emotion based. Your job is not to be everyone’s best friend, but to help them achieve their career goals.
  6. Work on changing your behavior, attitude and expectations of doing a good job rather than being liked. Focus more on being respected and less on being liked.
  7. Find a balance between being reachable and letting your staff know clear expectation.s
  8. Be consistent, fair, and honest. If your employees know they can depend on you to be fair, they will recognize your “not so nice” actions are for the good of the company.
  9. Focus on “relating” skills such as asking, listening, coaching, encouraging AND “requiring” skills such as creating expectations, focusing on goals, setting controls, asserting point of view, confronting problems. If you push one skill set over the other consistently, it can hurt you.
  10. Be strategically nice. Women can use their Emotional Intelligence to their advantage and decide when and to whom they should be nice. There is a time to be nice and a time to make tough decisions and being nice can be viewed negatively at that time.
  11. Rethink your definition of nice. Nice’ doesn’t mean doing things everyone wants and never making anyone mad. ‘Nice’ doesn’t mean pretending everything is always okay and never getting frustrated with people or situations. True ‘nice’ is about being clear on your worth, being confident and in control, making the best choices you can in each situation, and acting consistently with a positive and professional attitude.
  12. Develop your true confidence and inner strength. This is key to learning how to own their power without needing to wield it over others. This confidence that comes from within will allow you to act in ways that are effective without needing to be ‘liked’ at any cost. It’s insecurities that can create an overly ‘nice’ person.

Think about this: at the root of the desire to be nice is the need to have others think highly of you because you don’t think that way about yourself.

Change how you feel about yourself, and you will no longer have the need to constantly please others and put yourself last.

BE NICE TO YOURSELF and you will stay on track for moving your career forward.