Career Tips Over Coffee:  Pause Before Being Nice

Blog Post created by susan.hodge Champion on Jun 8, 2015

The idea for this post came from a comment by Julianne Mahler last week about the “double bind” for women: we’re expected to be friendly and nice but if
we’re too friendly and nice, we’re not strong enough.  Women are socialized from a young age to “be nice”.  When we find ourselves in a business
situation where someone is not “being nice" to us we’re in a conundrum as to how to react appropriately.  Combine that with our tendency to take business

personally and we can often react in a way that doesn’t serve us well.


I recall a situation where I had to deal with a builder of our home. We had issues during the construction process (as every homeowner
does).  When I confronted him, he was condescending, patronizing and outright untruthful. I had plenty of evidence that he didn’t
respect women and certainly didn’t want to deal with them in his business.


Yet, I still found myself “being nice” to him…wanting to be “liked”.  I even realized I was doing it at the time and kicked myself for it.


It’s hard to overcome the natural tendency to “be nice”.


In the classic Steven Covey book, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, he states “There is a gap between stimulus and response.”

He was talking about how the brain works, but his point was this:


When something or someone comes at you, you have time to choose how you respond.


This simple insight was eye opening for me.  I could take time to choose my responses.


If you’re in a situation where the voices in your head are telling you to be nice yet you’re not feeling so nice, use “the gap” to pause and give
yourself time to come up with a calculated, intentional response.


“I’ll think about that.”




“I’ll reserve judgment for now, but I don’t consider this final.”


“That’s an interesting perspective but I don’t necessarily agree with it.”


Or for more impact if someone is really being tacky, "Did I just hear you say xxxx?  Hmmm..."


All are unemotional comments that give you time to decide how to best respond.  Maybe you'll be nice and maybe you won't.