However, there is a point of diminishing returns, especially in the workplace. Being TOO nice is a problem.
People who are deemed “too nice” may be seen as:
Looking at this list, I’m confident these aren’t words you want associated with your character.
So, where do you draw the line? How do you know when you’ve gone from “nice” to “too nice”? Here are some clues:
You Avoid Confrontation Like the Plague
Being “nice” means letting your colleagues have a bad day without feeling the need to confront every little thing. Sometimes, you gotta just let stuff roll off your back.
Being “too nice” means refusing to address important disagreements, miscommunications and other conflicts in a productive, straightforward manner. Instead, you shy away and hope these things will go away on their own, or you simply hide your feelings (from others and maybe even yourself) in order to keep the peace.
You Never Voice Dissent
Being “nice” means expressing your differing point-of-view in a tactful, respectful way that moves the conversation forward and helps achieve the best solution.
Being “too nice” means suppressing your differing points-of-view and going with the flow even when you feel strongly opposed to what’s going on. Being “too nice” can even put you in sticky ethical territory if you’re not careful.
You Give Credit to Everyone Else & Never Take It
Being “nice” means you share credit when it’s due. You’re generous with praise and vocal when colleagues have helped you achieve success while at the same time you’re able to articulate your own efforts and solicit the recognition you deserve.
Being “too nice” means giving credit to everyone else (or letting them steal it) while downplaying your own contributions. Maybe you think of it as being humble, but really, you’re devaluing yourself and letting others benefit from the fruits of your labor.
You Get Taken Advantage Of
Being “nice” means happily supporting your teammates when needed, while also recognizing your priorities. When it’s warranted, you say “no” in a way that is respectful and confident.
Being “too nice” means always saying “yes” (even at your own peril) and refusing to set appropriate limits for yourself. While it may feel like you’re being helpful, your colleagues are learning to walk all over you.
You Get Bullied
Being “nice” means recognizing that some people are just difficult and you don’t have to be best friends with everyone at work. If someone wants to be a jerk, you assume it will come back to bite them in the end. And if it goes too far, you confront the issue politely and professionally—but forcefully if needed. (Yes, you’re still a “nice” person even if you have to do that!)
Being “too nice” means you make yourself an easy target for bullies. You’re incapable of standing up for yourself so bullies just keep pushing and pushing—and you never push back. Instead, you internalize the frustration and view yourself as a victim.
So what’s the answer? If you’ve accidentally slipped from being “nice” to being “too nice”, how do you pull back a bit?
It starts with recognizing that you don’t have to bend over backwards to accommodate the people around you ALL THE TIME. Yes, you want to be easy to work with, but you’re not a punching bag. People will actually respect you more—and even like you more—when you show your backbone. When someone appears “too nice” it can come off as inauthentic too. People start to wonder if you’re secretly harboring murderous fantasies about them! And if you hold things in for too long, you might just explode—or implode.
It’s also about learning to set limits and getting comfortable speaking up even when you’re saying things people don’t necessarily want to hear. It takes a shift of perspective to understand that you can still be nice even in times of conflict. As the saying goes: You can disagree without being disagreeable.
You can also be assertive without being an a$$. It takes time to develop these skills, but it’s well worth it. Your workplace interactions and relationships will improve (for the better!). Plus, you’ll feel more satisfied and more in control of your professional world, and your career will thrive!
Written by Chrissy Scivicque, August 26th, 2013 | 2 Comments »
Every office has one: The slacker who seems to weasel his way out of anything that even remotely involves work. We pick up after him. We cover for him. In general, we all think he’s a waste of space. But, as I said, every office has one.
What if—dare I say it—you’re that slacker? Could it be possible? It might be hard to admit, but maybe it’s time to take a good hard look at your own work habits. Take this quiz and see if you need to start picking up the pace.
Read each statement and select an answer that best describes what you would do in the situation. You may not find one that describes you perfectly – so just choose the one that works best.
1. Your boss is out of town for a few days. You:
a) Take a few long lunches, come in a bit late, leave a little early. It’s no big deal. That’s what people do when the boss is gone.
b) Continue working as usual. You still have responsibilities and deadlines. Okay, maybe you take an extra coffee break here or there – but nothing over the top.
c) Keep an eye on everyone in the office and make notes when your co-workers try to take advantage. Just because the cat’s away doesn’t mean the mice get to play.
2. You head to the break room to get a snack and find that the place is a wreck! Dishes are piling up in the sink, the paper towel dispenser is empty, the counter tops are sticky, and there’s a mysterious smell coming from the refrigerator. You:
a) Plug your nose, grab your soda, and get outta there!
b) Take about 10 minutes to get the place back in shape. Everyone has to pitch in with the common areas.
c) Create a detailed cleaning schedule for the entire staff and send it out in an email detailing the unacceptable current state of the break room.
3. You’re working on a group project with several co-workers. When tasks are assigned, you:
a) Jump on the easiest one that will take the least amount of time. Hey, someone gets to do it. Why not you?
b) Offer to do whatever is needed. It’s a group effort and you want to be actively involved.
c) Make sure that everyone is doing their fair share. You don’t want to let others just skate by.
4. You have several big projects that have all piled up at once. You know that it will take staying late in order to complete everything on time. You:
a) Convince a co-worker to help out and leave perfectly on time as planned.
b) Do what has to be done in order to complete your tasks. Next time, you’ll have to manage your time more effectively.
c) Inquire with your boss about the workload of your co-workers. It doesn’t seem right that everything has landed on your desk.
5. You have a lot of organization and basic clean up that needs to be done in your office. You:
a) Block your calendar for a day in order to get it done.
b) Stay late one evening so it doesn’t interfere with the work you need to do.
c) Outline what needs to be done and delegate the job to the intern.
Count the number of A’s, B’s and C’s that appear on your list.
If A’s appear most:
Okay, let’s look in the mirror, my friend. Do you see a slacker? That face you’re looking at? I hate to break it to you. That’s the face of a slacker. Once you’ve gotten over your initial shock, sit down and let’s talk.
Being a “slacker” basically just means you’re not taking your job as seriously as you should. You’re doing the least amount of work and you’re sliding by. Maybe you’re doing just enough to survive, but you’re not thriving. Be honest: Are you pawning things off on others? Are you settling for just doing and not focusing on doing things to the best of your ability?
Take a good, hard look and see what you can do to repair your damaged reputation. First off, try stepping up to the plate. Volunteer to take on the most challenging task in a group project. Offer to assist an overwhelmed co-worker. Be the first one to clean the break room when it’s needed. Learn how to be proactive. And, above all else, show that you’re ready and willing to put the effort in to do a good job. Come on; no more slacking!
If B’s appear most:
Congratulations! You’re definitely not a slacker. You take your job seriously and you always strive to do your best. You don’t appear to be a complete workaholic though. You know how to get things done but still kick back on occasion. That kind of balance will serve you well in the long run. Continue with the good work and remember to focus on yourself. Be a team player but don’t let others take advantage of your strong work ethic. Maintain the balance you’ve created by setting appropriate boundaries and remember to enjoy yourself!
If C’s appear most:
To tell you the truth, I have no idea if you’re a slacker. The reason? You’re too concerned about what everyone else is doing! It’s time to stop worrying about who isn’t doing their “fair share” and instead, focus on doing your job. Sure, you may work with a few slackers. But don’t waste your time fretting about it. In the end, these things always come around. Focus on yourself. Remember that you can’t control the actions of others. But you can control your own. A strong work ethic goes a long way. Keep in mind that if you’re a team player, your co-workers will typically step up and support you. If you’re trying to motivate the slackers on your team, start by looking at your own work habits.
Your “stamp of approval” is precious. When you recommend someone for a job—whether a friend, family member, colleague or anyone else—your professional reputation is on the line.
Your contacts trust you and you’re essentially asking them to transfer that trust to another person. If that person loses their trust for any reason, it transfers right back to you. So your recommendation creates a bond between all of you. Don’t take the decision lightly.
Before you stick your neck out for someone, consider these five questions:
1. Does this person really want the job? Are you pushing your friend/colleague/family member to do something he or she isn’t really interested in doing? Would this person still want the job if not for your (potential) recommendation?
You don’t want this person to feel like they’re doing you a favor by taking the job. YOU are the one doing the favor. If they don’t really want it, they won’t put in the effort needed to represent you well. Make sure you aren’t putting yourself out on a limb for someone who doesn’t really care one way or another.
2. Do you know this person professionally, not just personally?
Unfortunately, people are different at work than they are at home. We have different standards for what we expect from people at work than we do in our personal lives. If this person is just a friend or even a family member, you may be sadly disappointed by their work ethic.
That doesn’t mean you can’t still recommend someone you haven’t worked with directly, but do your due diligence. What do you know about this person’s career history? Do you consider this person reliable and trustworthy? Is he or she polite and respectful? If you don’t see these traits in your personal interactions, you probably won’t see them in the workplace either.
3. Is this person really the right fit for the role and the organization?
It’s not enough to just LIKE the person you’re recommending. He or she should have the skills and character traits needed to succeed in the role and the organization. Your job is to pre-screen the person.
If he or she is missing an essential qualification, you might still make the recommendation. But you’d be smart to share that information early. The faith you have in this person could be more valuable, but you don’t want to misrepresent the facts. If this person truly isn’t the right match, you’re just wasting everyone’s time.
4. Is your relationship with this person strong enough to endure the potential challenges?
If this person gets the job, you’re now heavily invested in seeing him or her thrive in the role. Alternatively, if he or she doesn’t get the job, they may see you as a part of the problem. If either of these scenarios causes concern, think twice about your recommendation.
5. Are you willing to put your name and reputation on the line for this person?
This person is a direct reflection of you. Make sure you have absolute faith that he or she will represent you as well as you’d represent yourself—if not even better. You will be inextricably tied to this person’s professional successes and failures…at least at the very beginning. Eventually, hopefully, the person you recommend will make a name for himself and your connection will become a thing of the past. But right up front, it’s on your shoulders. Immediate problems will come back to haunt you.
Some people try to stipulate as they recommend someone that they only know them casually, hoping that the “connection” between them isn’t too strong. Unfortunately, that doesn’t work. The message doesn’t typically travel. If you’re making the recommendation, it’s assumed that you’ve done your due diligence and you’ve decided it’s a safe risk to take.
It might not be “fair”, but that’s the reality.
How to Decline Giving a Recommendation Request
So, you’ve asked yourself these questions and you’re just not ready to recommend this person. But how do you do that without hurting feelings and damaging the relationship? You have a few options:
“I don’t think I’d be the best person for this.”
I like this response because it’s non-confrontational. It puts the blame on YOU, not them. You’re basically saying that you don’t have the right pull, or authority, or reputation, or influence, or whatever to get the job done effectively. You don’t need to elaborate.
“I don’t feel I know you well enough (or have enough experience working with you, etc.) to provide a strong recommendation.”
This one requires a little more courage because you’re definitely telling the person something they don’t want to hear. Clearly they think you DO have the experience it takes to give them the recommendation they need. If you can, be honest with the person. Let him or her know the hesitations you’re feeling and why it’s important for you to practice integrity here. Perhaps you can provide this person with some helpful insight and coaching. Obviously they respect you enough to have asked for this favor. You might be able to offer some valuable professional advice, if they’re willing to hear it.
“I’m sorry but I don’t typically make recommendations like that.”
This one is straightforward and simply tells the person that you have a standard rule against doing what they’ve asked for. It subtly implies that you’ve (perhaps) been burned in this kind of situation in the past. The word “typically” provides you with flexibility should this person find out in the future that you recommended someone else.
Sometimes, the office can feel like high school. There are all kinds of cliques and gossip. Occasionally, you even run into a workplace bully—someone who constantly criticizes, aggressively points out mistakes, and refuses to be part of your team.
Of course, dealing with a bully in the office can be a real challenge. But what if you’re the one doing the bullying? Maybe you don’t even realize how devastating your words and actions can be for others. Sure, it’s important to stand up for yourself and be assertive, but you still have to be respectful and professional and well…nice.
It’s time for a little self-evaluation. Take this quiz to see if you’re being a bully in the workplace.
Read each statement and select an answer that best describes what you would do in the situation. You may not find one that describes you perfectly – so just choose the one that works best.
1. A new employee is having a hard time catching on and her mistakes are starting to impact everyone on the team. When your boss asks you how you think she’s doing, you:
a) Say she’s doing fine. You don’t want to be responsible for her getting fired. And if she doesn’t improve, your boss will figure it out soon enough.
b) Honestly let your boss know that she’s made some mistakes but that you think she’ll get the hang of it eventually.
c) Tell your boss (and anyone else who will listen) that the new girl is incompetent and should be let go. Why hide your true feelings? It’s only going to hurt the company to keep her around.
2. You’ve had a personality clash with a co-worker for years. Now, you’ve been assigned to work on a project together. You:
a) Attempt to improve the relationship by doing all the work yourself.
b) Try to put your personal feelings aside and be professional.
c) Refuse to work with this person and request to be assigned to a different project.
3. You don’t really like working with one of your subordinates. You’d like to see him leave the company. However, there’s really no reason for firing him. You:
a) Recommend him for a promotion so he can move to a different department.
b) Put your personal feelings aside and act professionally.
c) Start piling work on, hoping he’ll get frustrated and quit.
4. A co-worker asks for your help learning a new computer program but you really don’t have the time. You:
a) Agree to help, regardless of the time issue. You’ve always had trouble saying “no” to those in need.
b) Offer your co-worker a book you have that might help. You let him know that you’re too busy to go over it at the moment, but when you have some free time in the future you’ll be happy to assist.
c) Explain to your co-worker that you’re not a trainer and recommend that he go to a class if he’s having that much trouble.
5. You’re leading the committee to plan a company party and the group can’t decide on a theme. You have a great idea but no one can agree. You:
a) Carefully listen to the various ideas. You’ve contributed yours and, if no one jumps on it, there’s nothing you can do.
b) Lead the group in organizing an anonymous vote. Whether or not your idea wins, a decision has to be made.
c) Stand up and announce that you’ve made the decision to go with your theme idea. There’s no point in arguing. You’re the leader so you have final say.
Count the number of A’s, B’s and C’s on your list.
If A’s appeared most on your list:
Well, the good news is this: You’re not a bully. In fact, you’re the opposite of a bully. You’re a pushover. You hate confrontation so much; it seems you’re willing to let people walk on you instead of standing up for yourself.
Remember that you have to show strength in the workplace – that doesn’t mean you can’t also be nice. But you have to look out for yourself. Don’t be so worried about what people think of you. You’ll encounter different types of personalities at the office, and you won’t always get along with everyone. You can still work well together however, by being respectful, honest and professional. Next time you’re tempted to roll over and play dead, try standing up for yourself. Say “no” once in a while. Fight for your ideas to be heard. Be professional, but strong.
If B’s appeared most on your list:
Congratulations! You seem to have a nice balance in the workplace. You’re respectful, but strong. You’re not afraid to voice your opinions, make tough decisions, and confront difficult issues honestly and professionally. You’ve got a tough backbone but people likely admire that. You don’t go out of your way to push others around, and you don’t let others bully you either. Keep up the good work!
If C’s appeared most on your list:
Okay—simmer down, my friend. I have some bad news for you: You are (drum roll, please) a workplace bully! There’s no doubt about it. Perhaps you get some kind of enjoyment from pushing people around. Or maybe you just think you’re being efficient. Unfortunately, your cold approach may come off as rude or intimidating. I know you probably have the best interest of the company in mind. However, you need to remember that most of your co-workers do as well. You aren’t always going to agree, so you’ll need to learn to make compromises. And remember: Your co-workers aren’t mind readers. If you need to address an issue, try using some tactful communication. This will be much more effective and your working relationships will be much more pleasant.
Written by Chrissy Scivicque, December 12th, 2012 | No Comments »
There’s nothing worse than feeling like you’re being smothered, and micro-managers are really good at making you feel that way. They hover over you, constantly check in, offer instruction when none is needed, and expect you to do things their way and on their schedule. Micro-managers don’t allow you to have any freedom and eventually, work can start to feel like a prison sentence.
Truth be told, micro-managers are not a lost cause. Everyone is capable of growth and these folks are no different. Many micro-managers are new to management and don’t fully understand how to empower their team members. Some have been burned in the past and are overcompensating to keep it from happening again. Whatever the cause, you can help improve the situation by following the tips below.
Demonstrate Your Competence
Micro-management stems from a lack of trust and a need for control. Show your manager that you know what you’re doing through your actions. It’s not enough to assure her with words. By consistently performing you will eventually prove your competence and gain her trust…eventually.
Do your best to anticipate what’s coming up and act early. That way, when your manager asks you to do something, you can show her it’s already under control. This can provide a much-appreciated sense of relief on her end, and you again prove that you’re capable and don’t need constant supervision.
(Word of warning: Yes, this can backfire. If your micro-manager doesn’t like your swift proactive behavior, let her explain that. Perhaps she will hear herself and realize she’s being a little overbearing.)
Keep Her Informed
Often, micro-managers just want to know what’s happening. Provide regular updates and share challenges—preferably, share them after you’ve resolved them to show that you handled it on your own.
There are likely certain tasks, situations, projects or people that escalate your manager’s behavior. Take note of these things and be sure they get extra attention. Show that you care and recognize the importance of getting these things right. This will help take some of the weight off of your manager. You don’t want her feeling like she’s the only one who “gets” it.
Give It Time
It takes time to build trust so don’t expect it to happen overnight. Consistency is key here. If you slack off, the problem will only get worse.
When your micro-manager gives you some leeway (even just a smidge), be sure to recognize it and show your appreciation. It doesn’t hurt to also articulate how well you performed with that added level of freedom, just to reinforce it.
Ask for More
Your micro-manager might not even realize what she’s doing and how it affects you. Remain professional and polite, but call it to her attention by asking for more freedom.
One way to do this is to make it more about helping her:
I know you’re busy. Why don’t you let me take some of this stuff off your plate?
Or you can be more direct about it:
I think I can manage this on my own. Why don’t I take the lead and check in with you if I get stuck?
Or you can be even MORE direct:
I’d like to discuss my role and how I can earn more freedom/responsibility/independence.
This last one is opening a larger discussion that may be worthwhile. If you’ve been working with a micro-manager for a long time and things aren’t improving, it’s time to put together a plan to fix the problem. Notice how we say, “earn” more freedom, etc. This shows that you’re willing to take responsibility for making it happen and you’re also willing to do the work. Phrasing it this way will help ease the conversation forward.
Micro-managers can be high-strung and paranoid, but don’t let them stifle your growth or make you question your abilities. You don’t need a babysitter. You can stand up for yourself without getting defensive or angry. Be tactful and remember that you’re on the same team and you have the same goal: You both want to do a good job.