Did you guys read Angela's post this morning? Go ahead, I'll wait.
After I hit 'send' on my oh so heavily edited email at midnight last night and was lying awake panicking about what would show up in my inbox today (so far nothing), I thought about how it doesn't pay to be a Nice Girl.
I think a lot of us are Nice Girls. We are hard workers, we do what we're told, we take ownership of our work, we follow the rules and we don't cause anyone any grief. If something goes wrong, we go over every detail of our involvement to see where we might have performed better, even if we weren't at fault. If we need something out of the ordinary, like extra vacation time, we have to build up the nerve to ask. It's not that we're asking for the moon, but we know all the reasons why we shouldn't or wouldn't or couldn't get what we need and we're nervous about making our case. In the end we make our cases very well- we're nothing if not thoughtful and thorough- but we never sense that we deserved what we asked for. We tell ourselves how lucky we are to be working for such flexible and kindhearted people.
Phillip spends a lot of time preparing for his annual review every year. He compiles his accomplishments, researches salaries and benefits and doesn't get all bent out of shape about the idea of negotiating. Last year I remember him telling me, "I want to be paid what I'm worth." On one hand I was proud- Go Phillip!- on the other hand that statement made me want to hide behind my hands. How cocky. How self-assured. You can't tell someone how much you think your paycheck should be, because that's what you're worth, and ever back away from it. The thought of what I would have to do to defend a statement like that makes me want to hide under the nearest rock.
It's not that I don't think I'm a worthy employee. Ask Phillip. I'd saunter around my living room spouting off my grand achievements, who sent me grateful emails, what I learned on my own that day, who I saved from a fire. But in the office I kept my head down and did my job and just sort of expected to be valued. Ha.
The email I wrote last night was quite possibly the first time I've ever really stuck up for myself. My first thought was, "Oh, of course I'll help, that's the right thing to do," even though it was the absolute LAST thing I wanted to do and, quite honestly, would not be useful at all for this situation. Phillip helped me understand that I was under no obligation to be a Nice Girl this time around. Where was that going to get me? So I said NO. !!!
It's not just work where this happens. Being a Nice Girl has put me in hard situations in church settings, friendships, school, even marriage sometimes. Often I'm so busy trying to figure out if I have a leg to stand on- if my position is worthy of defense- that by the time I'm brave enough to say something it's days later and I'd look foolish going back to the issue.
Women who have this already figured out know that 'Nice Girl' isn't the correct term. More like Pushover or Ninny or I'm Not Even Going To Bother Coming Up With A Label Because I'm Too Busy Rolling My Eyes.
Last night I sent an email that, even though I literally spent hours taking out anything that could be construed as bitchy or emotional or unprofessional or unnecessary, might make someone mad at me. I might have to defend myself further or, more likely, I will have to suck it up and live my life knowing that defending myself and saying no pissed someone off. I want to grow up and know what I'm worth, but right now I'm still sort of scared to check my email.
Aaaaand this ends this discussion. You're not supposed to talk about work on your blog! Even if you CAN'T get fired!