Is Being "Nasty" Really the Key to Being a Successful Woman (or Person for that Matter)?
Disclaimer: Before the arguments start and the accusations fly, I do not support either presidential candidate. I find the GOP and Democratic candidates to be among the most vile, objectionable candidates ever to be slated. This country should be ashamed for even putting them on the ballot. The election is NOT the subject of this post.
That said, as a human being I am intrigued by the notion that just because someone can be the first person of X type to do something, that they are the right person to do it, regardless of how nasty, cruel, or hateful they are. In her article “Are you a ‘Nasty Woman’? I Wish I Were One Too”, author Minda Zetlin says “We are long overdue for a female president.” Not the main premise of her article, but it was the line that got me thinking about this.
(Really? I think we are long overdue for a good one, genitalia notwithstanding. At what point did a vagina and breasts become qualifications for anything other than childbirth and nursing? They are no more qualifications for any job, let alone the presidency of the United States of America, than a penis is. Period.)
Zetlin seems willing to overlook multiple crimes and a hateful demeanor just to get a woman in the Oval Office. She goes on to lament being nice and being labeled the “Queen of Diplomacy” in her professional circles. WHY? She is clearly successful. Even though she said avoiding conflict contributed to the American Society of Journalists and Authors suffering during the first months under her tenure, the inference is that it got better. Truthfully, most organizations suffer after transition. Was it because of her diplomacy or were there other factors?
Why would anyone want to be nasty? Hillary Clinton (like Donald Trump) is where she is because she destroyed nearly everyone in her wake. She verbally assaulted and humiliated the victims of her husband’s sexual assaults. She left Ambassador Stevens and his detail to die in Benghazi and asked “What difference does it make?” She can’t even be bothered to be civil to the men and women who guard her with their lives.
Donald Trump is an equally vile, hateful human being, though to my knowledge, he has no bodies lying at his feet. WikiLeaks will eventually correct that if he does. (Lord knows our media won’t.) He is bigoted, judgmental, and an arrogant jerk to boot. His “locker room” conversations about women are disgusting and indicative of a misogynistic personality.
My question is why would anyone want to be like that? Who wants to be the Leona Helmsley of anything?
Here’s a newsflash: Being nice is the right thing to do regardless of your gender. It is polite, something far too rare in society today.
There are plenty of successful women who are also nice. Nice does not equate to being a doormat. If you’re a doormat, that’s your problem, not society’s. Grow a spine, get some self-esteem, and start speaking up. Assertive and confident is not the same thing as nasty and rude.
Nasty women do not help other women succeed. I’ve spend a great deal of my professional career dealing with comments like “we’re so glad you’re not b*tchy, like so-and-so. You’re much easier to work with”. I’ve had to work twice as hard because of nasty women to overcome the stereotype that I’d rather step on someone while I climb the ladder than bring someone with me. Everyone, women included, assume that most women in business are “nasty” and therefore can’t be trusted.
I’d have never succeeded as a business analyst if I were as rancid as Hillary Clinton or as repugnant as Donald Trump. My job depends on people cooperating and working toward the same goals. They must trust me. Do you trust nasty people? Would you trust either candidate with your life? With your career? Or do you know that they would sacrifice you in a heartbeat to advance their own power grabs?
Does being nice mean I don’t speak up in meetings? No. It just means I am calm, polite, and self-assured when I do. I’ve also usually carefully weighed all sides and have justifications for my assertions.
Does it mean I won’t defend myself when called for? No. On a few very rare occasions, I’ve had to go toe-to-toe with nasty people. None of them won because when it came down to it, I had reason on my side and people trusted me.
Does it mean I am all sweetness and light all the time? Definitely not. I can swear to make a drunken sailor blush. (That drives my mother batty.) My daughter says I’m not an aggressive driver, I’m just offensive if you’re forced to listen to me while I’m driving. I’ve been known to colorfully verbally eviscerate the few people stupid enough to be cruel to my friends and family.
Nice means you say “please” and “thank you” to the barista at Starbucks. It means you say “hello” and “have a nice day” to the security guard who lets you in every morning. It means you say “excuse me” when you walk between two people having a conversation. It means you let someone finish their sentence before interjecting. None of that is weak. It is polite.
What do I get in return? My drink is usually waiting for me by the time I get to the register at Starbucks. I get far less hassle coming through security than the guy who b*tches at the guards every day because he must take his belt off. My co-workers know that I will treat them with respect and courtesy and treat me that way.
Besides, nice people have more fun and are ultimately more successful and happy. It’s been said over and over in human resource studies that people would rather have a nice boss than a pay raise. I left an employer and took a substantive pay cut to get away from a “nasty woman”. The benefit? I got great bosses, a great client, enjoyable work, and happiness. Nice wins. Nasty people are mean and mean people suck.
It’s your turn…
Would you rather work with a nasty person or a confident, nice person? Do you think that only nasty women are successful? What would you do if you worked with a nasty person?
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All thoughts and opinions are my own. They do not represent those of any current or former employers or clients.