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August 8, 2008

News & Opinion: Part III of Blog Hosted by: Tim Hiltabiddle, The Nice Guy Bill of Rights

By: Dylan Schleicher @ 4:08 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

Welcome to blog post number three from Tim Hiltabiddle, co-author of Nice Guys Can Get the Corner Office. You can find the first post here and the second here.
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The Nice Guy Bill of Rights

It was a blustery day in November of 2004 when my friend Russ Edelman first came to me with the 'nice guy' idea. The concept - which had been percolating in his mind for several months - was to come up with ways to help people in the business world who suffer from Nice Guy Syndrome.
We discussed it while sitting at a local restaurant in our hometown of Newburyport, Massachusetts. The plight of nice guys really resonated with me, but we both realized that we had to put some meat on the bones. It needed a hook; some concrete ideas to rally behind. We needed to find ways to empower nice guys and help them overcome the behaviors that limit their effectiveness.
We quickly stumbled upon the idea of a Nice Guy Bill of Rights. Instead of being passive or feeling victimized, we wanted nice guys to realize that they have the inalienable right to speak their minds or say 'no' to things they didn't want to do.
So, lacking a pad of paper, we literally asked for a stack of white paper napkins from the waiter (true story!) and started to jot down various ideas for our Bill of Rights. After many months of pruning and tweaking, we settled upon these eight strategies to help nice guys be more successful:
  1. You have the right to SELF-AWARENESS Before you can set a course for where you want to go, first you must be completely honest about where you are. A thorough knowledge of your strengths and weaknesses is extremely valuable.

  2. You have the right to SPEAK UP - Overly nice guys often struggle with speaking their minds and expressing their opinions. The ability and willingness to speak up is essential if you want your ideas to be heard.

  3. You have the right to SET BOUNDARIES - "No" seems to be the hardest word for nice guys. Frequently they choose to be the proverbial doormat instead of setting a boundary that clearly defines what they will (and won't) do. Nice guys must set good boundaries and consistently reinforce them as needed.

  4. You have the right to CONFRONT - Conflict is a challenge for most people. It is especially difficult for nice guys, who instinctively want to get along with everyone. It is very important to learn to address issues directly and overcome the fear associated with confrontation.

  5. You have the right to CHOICE - Nice guys often feel powerless, as if they have no choice in a given situation. The truth is that they frequently give away their power to choose. The key? To own your choices and, without guilt, to make the right decision for you and your organization - even if it means people will be angry or disappointed with you.

  6. You have the right to EXPECT RESULTS - Maintaining accountability sometimes makes you unpopular. Regardless, to be effective nice guys must be willing to hold others (and themselves) accountable for results, schedules, commitments, quality, deliverables, and budgets, to name a few.

  7. You have the right to BE BOLD - Taking risks is extremely challenging for nice guys. If they want to succeed at a high level, however, they must be willing to go beyond their comfort zone and be bold.

  8. You have the right to WIN – The business world is highly competitive. Nice guys, however, sometimes shy away from competition because they aren't comfortable with "winning" (and other people "losing".) While a win/win scenario is ideal, it is not always possible. Everyone is ultimately best served when the best ideas and solutions win, not when nice guys "play small." Nice guys owe it to themselves and their organizations to do their absolute best at all times and embrace winning.

Which of these 'rights' resonate deepest with you? Can you remember a time when you struggled with one of these principles?

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.