In The Myth of the Nice Girl, Fran Hauser deconstructs the negative perception of “niceness” that many women struggle with in the business world. If women are nice, they are seen as weak and ineffective, but if they are tough, they are labeled a bitch.
Hauser proves that women don’t have to sacrifice their values or hide their authentic personalities to be successful. Sharing a wealth of personal anecdotes and time-tested strategies, she shows women how to reclaim “nice” and sidestep regressive stereotypes about what a strong leader looks like. Her accessible advice and hard-won wisdom detail how to balance being empathetic with being decisive, how to rise above the double standards that can box you in, how to cultivate authentic confidence that projects throughout a room, and much more.
The Myth of the Nice Girl is a refreshing dose of forward-looking feminism that will resonate with smart, professional women who know what they want and are looking for real advice to take their career to the next level without losing themselves in the process.
Author: Fran Hauser
I’m describing a woman who cares deeply about other people and who wants to connect with them, who is guided by a strong sense of values to do the right thing. She is considerate, respectful, and kind. There’s a warmth and magnetism about her that draws people to her side and makes them feel good in her presence. At work, she’s fair, collaborative, and generous. Instead of competing against other women, she elevates them by sharing the credit for a job well done. She has a deep, unshakable confidence that there are plenty of opportunities to go around.
There were a few points in the book, however, where I feel like the advice was rushed and shallow. For instance, when speaking about owning your accomplishments, she says, “Why not submit yourself to be included on an appropriate list or even for an industry award? This is a simple strategy you can use to get credit for your hard work that can potentially lead to a host of opportunities.” To me, submitting myself for some sort of industry award doesn’t feel simple at all. It feels like a long shot and a lot of work for very little chance of success. That doesn’t mean it isn’t a good idea, but it’s certainly not “simple.”
One point Hauser made that resonated with me was the idea of offering to help. I am an empathetic person, and I find myself asking coworkers who seem to have a lot on their plate, “Is there anything I can do to help you?” I always thought this was a good way to offer my help and show that I’m a team player. But Hauser posits that to be truly helpful, you should ask if you can help by completing a specific task you know they need done. Otherwise, finding something for you to do becomes just another task they need to complete: “Offering to help is nice, but without volunteering to take on a definite and specific task, it puts the onus on the other person.” This stopped me in my tracks. I’ll be adopting this technique going forward.
I also liked her advice on confidence vs cockiness:
True confidence is not something that you are simply born with. It’s a skill you can develop by paying close attention to your successes in life and how you accomplished them. This purposeful self-reflection will result in the type of evidence-based confidence that does not come across as arrogant or pushy. On the other hand, when someone is full of self-importance and walks around believing that they are just generally wonderful without seeming to need real evidence to back it up, well, that’s not confidence—that’s just ego.
She went on to provide some techniques you can use to help reflect on your past successes when you most need it. I love this idea, too.
The book is full of nuggets like this, it just takes a bit of digging to get to them. In the end, I do recommend it for young professional women like me.