How Being Direct Helps Women In Business

While I realize it might be interpreted as “tacky” to write about something other than Hurricane Sandy, the notion of “nice” has been top of mind for me lately. I think this is really important to address because I see the way this urge to be liked hurts women in their careers–and it’s an emergency situation.

I see women put others ahead of them. I see women who are happy to let other people waste their their time. They undercharge. They let guys (they don’t even like) take advantage of them. They do things for free. And throughout all of this they want to look pretty (to improve their likeability).

I want to help women move forward in their lives. To move forward you have to get clear on your path. You have to decide to put your own needs at the forefront of your life.

Long after I left California I learned I didn’t have to be overly nice to people. You couldn’t blame me for being overly nice. I was born in California where sunshine is a key aspect to an attractive female personality. The point I changed was the moment I started to really believe in myself.

I learned to be direct with people. I learned that being direct and clear is favorable to being vague and wordy. It’s better for everyone.

Life’s toughness also toughened me up. As an adult I had more to worry about than if people liked me or not. I worried about paying my rent and moving up in my career. With more responsibility at work I didn’t have the time to spend framing conversations (saying please, sorry, um, like and I’m SO sorry). I realized being fake nice to people I didn’t want to talk to was not equivalent of being a good person. 

So how is a woman to act? How can she be polite but not so overly polite as to attract the wrong attention? When being liked is so important in the corporate world, how can she maintain her self respect while being chosen for key opportunities?

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Once I worked for a French entrepreneur. He told me women in America smile all the time. He told me in Paris if a girl smiles at you that means she wants to sleep with you. In America if you are a woman you have been told multiple times in your life to smile.

Have you had an experience where being overly nice got you into trouble?

You don’t need to be a character from the Devil Wears Prada to succeed in business and in life. All I’m asking is that as a society let’s decide to cut the nonsense. Let’s use our common sense when we interact with people. Let’s stop being fake.

I wonder why don’t men go to the extent to please as women do. What do you think?



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