In speaking with hundreds of women business owners and professionals, I find a recurring theme. BEING TOO NICE! Women in general are concerned with hurting other people -- we worry about how saying “No” or asking for things in writing may be perceived as offensive or worse ... hurtful! We cost ourselves time and money because we are too nice to look out for our own best interests. I get it, I’ve done it and if you’re a woman, you’ve probably done it too.
Let me clarify my point by saying being nice isn’t the problem, selling yourself short is! Considering other people’s feelings is not wrong, however, when you overpay for a service, give away your products or time or commit the cardinal sin of not requiring a contract all because you don’t want to put people off, that’s more than a problem -- it’s a detriment!
I myself have learned these lessons the hard way! When I first started my business, I just wanted customers. I bartered and I severely discounted and I admit it, I even gave my services away. Not anymore. It had to end. Here’s what I realized: When I don’t have the money to buy something, I don’t buy it. Why should others get things for free? You’re doing yourself a disservice and you’re paying customers as well. Plus, once someone gets something for nothing, in my experience, they often want more! Please don’t let others dictate your value.
I have also had a hard time saying “No” to sales people. I used to think of the least painful way of letting someone down and then when it came to doing so, I would change my mind at the last minute all in the name of preserving someone’s feelings! I know a woman who sells promotional items and doesn’t utilize testimonials because she’s afraid of hurting her competitors’ feelings. Another successful woman went in on a handshake deal to help sell a property and after finding the buyer, she was never paid because the commission arrangement was not in writing. I too have felt the consequence of a verbal contract gone wrong. Let me say this, it’s not fun. I used to worry about a person thinking that I don’t trust them if I’m asking for a contract. Now, my only concern is making sure the contract is practically bullet proof.
Here are some great questions you can ask yourself to help you get over “niceitis”: Have you ever been rejected? How many “No’s” have you encountered? Do you think your competitors are worried about your feelings? Do you try to get something for nothing? Would you rather people say that you’re nice or that you’re professional?
Ultimately, it’s up to you and as always, it’s never too late. If you realize that you are attracting the wrong customers, hiring the wrong people, not firing someone who should be fired, buying products you don’t need, crossing your fingers about a deal you made on a handshake or using the services of attorney A when you believe attorney B would do a better job, it’s time to stop.
Stop worrying about how doing what’s best for you and your business will be perceived. Stop doing the things that prevent you from getting to the next level. Stop being the person everyone thinks they can get whatever they want from because you’re such a nice person.
Bottom line, you can reject people nicely and save yourself and the other person time. You can state your requirements (contracts, pricing, terms) and do it respectfully and negotiate in a respectful manner. All the while, you will earn a reputation of being a smart, savvy and strong professional. Now that’s NICE!