Being Nice is an Old, Sticky Habit
I was raised to be really nice. To be really nice meant not to be trouble for anyone. And not being trouble for anyone included a lot of messages about what I was and wasn’t allowed to do. Maybe you got some of these messages too:
- Don’t ask anyone to go out of their way for you.
- Don’t make a big deal about anything you need or want.
- Don’t get in the way.
- Live with what is so you don’t burden people.
- Take care of everything yourself.
I thought being told I was nice (or sweet or thoughtful) was a compliment. But I was wrong. The bottom line is that you end up feeling invisible and unimportant, coupled with a disproportionate concern for what other people think of you.
The early imprinting of these messages creates serious obstacles that stop you from:
- Showing up and sharing your innate brilliance
- Expressing your unique talents and skills
- Following your dreams
If I can change so can you. Whatever I teach and coach on – I know it works. It’s not just theory (although I know a lot of theory, having spent many years getting degrees, attending classes, teaching seminars, and reading the research, so you don’t have to.) I only ask you to do things I have personally tested and worked with myself. In other words, I put myself through my own boot camp. Whatever changes you want to make, in order to take the leap you need to truly show up for yourself in your own life, I know you can do it too.
A Personal Journey: From Wimp To WIN
Many years ago I attended a three-day training with my partner in Santa Fe. The training was held at a decent motel close to the center of town. We decided to stay in Santa Fe instead of commuting from Albuquerque. The room was small but lovely but the bed was horrible. The bed was so horrible, I woke up several times during the night. I don’t know what was wrong with the bed but my partner couldn’t sleep in it and he likes a soft bed and I couldn’t sleep in it and I like a hard bed. I think the springs were poking through. We were tossing and turning and sore and we couldn’t sleep and I was crying.
I saw it as my problem. I believed I had to find a solution that wouldn’t inconvenience anyone else. It didn’t occur to me to complain or ask for a room change because the imprinting to be nice and not make trouble for anyone else was so strongly embedded in me, I couldn’t see other options, because it meant asking for help to solve the problem.
In my mind, the obvious solution, which only inconvenienced me and also let me stay in control of events, was to check out of the motel and commute from home for the rest of the training.
In the morning, I went to the front desk and told the clerk that we were checking out. That we were attending the training but since the bed was so horrible we couldn’t spend the second night at the motel.
And the clerk said, “We will find you a bed that will be right for you. We are renovating our rooms, and I am sorry you were inconvenienced. I know we can find the right room for you.” And what do you know – they put us in a renovated room with a really comfortable bed that worked for both of us.
I regret ignoring my initial sense that the bed wasn’t going to work out when we first checked in. As soon as I saw the bed was inadequate, I should have addressed it immediately. You know how you bounce around on the bed as soon as you shut the door to the room? And how you know right away whether the bed is OK for you or not? I knew.
I regret not getting up when I was crying and going to the front desk and telling them I can’t sleep and that I needed them to solve this problem now.
Mostly, I regret not starting the conversation about what I needed when we checked in. I regret not asking for what I wanted, a room with a really good bed that will work for both of us. And asking the clerk, “What can you for us?”
Being too nice can get you a compliment. Asking for what you want can get you respect.
No More Regrets
I welcome the many opportunities to flex my negotiation muscles. It’s important to stay in shape. Staying in shape means paying attention to the everyday opportunities to ask and negotiate for what you want.
I travel frequently as a trainer and speaker. I make my hotel reservation and let the clerk know I need an early check-in. Then when I arrive, I let the registration desk know I need an extended check-out. I rarely have to complain about the bed these days because I stay in hotels that are a bit more upscale!
Find an everyday situation that you thought was not negotiable and negotiate for a better deal.
For some of you, asking for an early check-in or extended check-out at a hotel might be a good stretch.
I want you to wake up and stretch your negotiation muscles now, before you tackle the bigger stuff.
To your success,
Follow Marsha Lichtenstein on Twitter: www.twitter.com/DrMarshaTweets