Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

The Curse of Being Too Nice: It Could Kill Your Career

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

The Curse of Being Too Nice: It Could Kill Your Career

Article excerpt

If you could choose just one, which word would you use to describe yourself on the job? Hardworking, perhaps? Or would it be Intelligent, Creative or Charming?

Now, what do you think would be the response of your CO-WORKERS if I asked THEM what one word they would use to describe you?

Well, over the past week I asked your co-workers that question. Nearly all chose the same word, and I deliberated whether or not to tell you what it was. Eventually I decided that it's best that you know.

The word they chose was, "Nice."

Yes, "nice."

Sorry. Sure, you feel angry and hurt. I wish I could say to you, "Don't panic," but panic is just what is called for.

You are on the fast track to the slow lane; you are headed for a life of disillusionment, unemployment, abandonment and substance abuse; or, worst case, a position in Human Resources.

So, if we are to salvage something of that day job you call a future, we'd better take a careful look at this scary notion called "nice."

First, can it really harm your career?

A lot of people apparently think so. I once wrote a spoof book advertisement for a volume I called "The Seven Habits of Highly Obnoxious People."

I filled my mock ad with silly advice like, "Learn to replace outmoded philosophies such as, `A friend in need is a friend indeed,' with new, efficient thinking - `A friend in need is one less phone call to return.' "

From all over the country, I received letters from nice people eager to buy the book and get nasty.

At first, I thought these were fun-lovers, spoofing me back.

But, speaking to some on the phone, I understood that these earnest folks were convinced that they were too kind, too considerate. They felt that if only they could be less nice, their career obstacles would vanish.

I had to explain that they were wrong.

Recently, I read the delightful autobiography "Murderers and Other Friends" by John Mortimer, the British lawyer best known for his fictional barrister, "Rumpole. …

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