“Come on, smile.” “Why don’t you be a bit friendlier?” You can’t be seen when you’re busy putting others in front of you. You can’t be heard when you let others jump in front of you in conversation. So where do you stand in the world? Do you stay quiet and politely wait your turn? Do you ever tell people no? Being a nice girl doesn’t really get you ahead. In fact, it puts you behind everyone else. People can mistake kindness for weakness and keep talking until you force them to stop. The nice girl trope is played out. It’s time to enter your bossed up era.
Tell people “No.”
You don’t always have to be the strong friend for everyone else. You can take some time for yourself without explanations. It’s imperative for your self-care routine and for other people to know how to treat you. Think about the last time you’ve taken on extra work for your job. Did you get an award, or better yet, more pay? Overworking yourself for a company that pays you less than men or other coworkers makes things better for them at your own expense. Take a good look at your schedule. Where are your non-negotiables? Do you have non-negotiables planned for your entertainment and enrichment, and do you make sure to respect the time you have blocked off for them? If you have a vacation, you don’t want to be the one on your laptop working, unless you travel for work. When you have the time blocked off, keep it blocked. Don’t let folks waste your time. They surely will take as much as they feel entitled to and as much as you’ll let them take.
Ask for what you want.
Many women have been raised to take care of others, especially if you’re the oldest child of the bunch. However, just because you’ve been taught to anticipate others’ needs and wants and to fulfill them, doesn’t mean that they’ll read your mind when it comes to your own needs and wants. People-pleasing is two-fold. You’ll have to work on not giving in when someone asks you for help if you don’t have the desire, capacity, or bandwidth. But you’ll also have to be clear about what you want and need for yourself. You deserve to have your requests fulfilled, too. You can’t have all these things on your plate, and some of other people’s at the same time.
Along with asking for what you want, you have to delegate tasks to other people. If you run a small business or media platform, you can’t be good at everything. You certainly can’t be all things to all people either. When necessary, make sure that tasks (at home or at work) that lie outside of your flow, your zone of genius, gets delegated to someone that has a focus for that task. For instance, if you’re good at writing naturally and need to spend hours learning graphic design, maybe outsource it to someone who’s already spent the hours to learn design so that you can get it done right the first time. If your coworker asks for your help on another project while you’re in the midst of one, you can turn it down. You don’t have to say yes just because they asked. They’ll probably appreciate the honesty instead of you taking on work and getting it done incompletely or of lesser quality due to your capacity. When you’re at home (whether you work from home, work away during the day, or work for yourself), if you cannot handle all the tasks for housekeeping, create a financial plan to outsource it. Take on food delivery subscriptions, housekeeping services at a regular interval that you can afford, or tell your husband to get off his ass before you divorce them. That ought to do it really. Either way, buy more time for yourself. Hold your time close to you. You only get it once.
Tradeoffs are everywhere. The worse ones are the ones you don’t know about. If you don’t ask, you don’t learn about other opportunities. First, share your goals with people if you want to learn more about what’s out there. Being nice but not engaging with coworkers about career-related things can hurt you in the end. You’ll get promoted less often and left unconsidered for other opportunities. But you can use negotiation skills to boost your opportunities. Create a numbers-based presentation to ask for a raise if you know you’ve produced the results to get paid more. Work on getting more certifications so that you can pitch yourself for new projects. Put yourself in the best position to not be ignored, which means you need to be assertive and put yourself in the driver’s seat of your life and career.
In order to stop being the nice girl who loves everyone and wants to rescue everyone, you have to unlearn the training you got as an adolescent. People can be drawn into the nice, caring nature you have and take advantage of this. You don’t have to be the mother of the group, the armchair therapist, the replacement mommy for those who seem unable or unwilling to help themselves. Even if they’re without ulterior motives, you can just draw a line in the sand for YOU. And don’t push it back based on pushback you receive. Self-preservation is more important. The Captain-Save-a-Hoe cape can come off now.