August 7, 2008
News & Opinion: Part II of Blog Hosted by: Tim Hiltabiddle, What About Nice Gals?
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What about Nice Gals?
When talking about our book, Nice Guys Can Get the Corner Office, with friends and co-workers, a female colleague sometimes asks, "What about women?! Are we excluded from your book?"
Absolutely not. The term "nice guys" is not gender specific. It applies to both men and women. And while we readily admit the three authors on our team are men - and can only know the workplace experience first-hand from the male point of view - we have gathered input from many women who took our surveys and sat down with us to share their stories and experiences in the workplace.
The bottom line is that many women suffer from Nice Guy Syndrome as much (if not more so) than men. The strategies we offer in our book are just as relevant for women. We all may struggle with finding a balance between the desire to be nice, compassionate, empathetic, and understanding with the need to be strong, decisive, and tough at the same time. In fact, because of the way they are often conditioned by society, women tend to be more predisposed to be self-sacrificing and want to please others than men. Several women told us that their maternal instincts kick in at work. They want to nurture and take care of others, which can make it extra difficult to say 'no' to a request or, even worse, fire an employee.
There is, however, one major difference in the way that men and women experience the effects of Nice Guy Syndrome - the way that others perceive their behavior. If a man tends to be overly nice and behaves in ways that are considered too agreeable, passive, and highly compassionate, he may be considered "soft" or labeled a "wuss." For women, that nurturing behavior likely wouldn't raise an eyebrow.
By contrast, if a woman is forceful, outspoken, decisive, powerful, and bold, she runs the risk of being called the "b" word, whereas a man would merely be considered a strong, tough leader.
Fair? No, but it's all too common. Regardless, it doesn't change the premise of our book - that a balance is needed between empathy and emotional intelligence on one hand and strength and assertiveness on the other. Leaning too far in either direction will inevitably lead to problems for you and for others.
Do female readers experience Nice Guy Syndrome in the workplace? Is it prevalent in your office? Do you think there is a difference between how men and women experience this problem?
About Dylan Schleicher
Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.