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Do nice girls finish last?

Career Tips By Tania Ngima
Photo: Courtesy

There’s a phenomenon called ‘The nice girl syndrome’. It comes from how we are socialised. From when we were young, the nice girls tend to be the ones who are polite, they do not speak unless spoken to, and they reinforce the norms by which society judges us. However, sometimes these socialisations hold us back from exploring our true potential and from being as great as we should be.

ALSO READ: How to take control of your career

Research that has been conducted shows a couple of conflicting things. One, that for women especially in senior positions, competence and likeability are negatively correlated. This means that for a woman to be liked by her colleagues, she needs to be perceived as less competent. The more competent she is, the less is liked she is at the workplace. This was cited as one of the reasons why, at certain points in her campaign, Hillary Clinton was viewed as unlikeable.

The research also goes into a lot of other factors and while it is not right to take the stats at face value, being cognisant of this can help you understand workplace dynamics. Another study found that women who were disagreeable at the office made 5 per cent more money than their more friendly counterparts.

It’s just business
I’ve heard this phrase. It’s not personal, it’s just business. As uncomfortable as it may make us because we are more likely to want the world to be all roses and rainbows, we have to be cognisant of the fact that some time taking things at the workplace personal have the effect of holding us back and preventing us from progressing. We continuously have to evaluate whether empathy is the right response in each scenario, and whether we are taking empathy too far, probably by keeping someone on the team who should be long gone.

Most of us would rather not handle conflict and we often skirt around it as much as we can. This is not always the right way and you must weigh the pros and cons of conflict for each situation. The workplace will always present us with difficult conversations and we must be willing to take them head on instead of letting situations fester.

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