Nice Girls Don’t Finish Last


As women in business, we often hear different points of view on the right demeanor to portray at work to get ahead – be ruthless and stoic! No, be likeable!

At the 16-year mark of my career, I subscribe to the idea that you can be nice and successful. I have been in roles during which I’ve felt like a personality chameleon – speak first, loudly and often with this team; listen, reflect and carefully offer strategic counsel with another. Ask this manager about his kids; never, ever bring up your family with this employee. While I recognize that it’s always important to consider your audience when delivering a message or selling in an idea, I believe that no matter the “room,” emoting a vibe of friendliness and collaboration can help vs. hurt. Likabilty in business can get you ahead, and I certainly believe that it has helped me advance in my career.

Susie Moore, a life coach in New York City, wrote a great piece on Huffington Post about 7 reasons why likeable people succeeded last year.

My favorite line: “Likeable people are more fun to work with, inspire loyalty amongst their peers and are ‘lighter to lift’ within any team or organization.”

Newsflash: women don’t have to be a bitch to be successful. Perhaps some nice girls finish last, but I won’t be one of them. I want to live my values, all day and every day, not just when I’m with the people I love most. I want to be myself, and I’m most comfortable with a smile on my face.

But let’s take a step back and remember what being nice is not: being a pushover, shying away from persistence. Instead, you can be nice while being assertive, you can be nice while advocating for your initiatives. And, odds are that by lifting up your peers and employees, you in turn will be lifted and rewarded.

On the days when I feel that not everyone subscribes to the idea of comradery, for perspective, I read this view of success, often attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson, which is taped to my monitor at work:

To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child,
a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded.

So, ladies, keep fighting the good fight, but play fair and sleep well at night.

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Christina Klenotic

Christina Klenotic believes that you can be nice and successful in your career (screw mean people). She also doesn’t believe in having more kids than arms since she’s frequently toting both of her toddlers around Cleveland’s neighborhoods. Or, biking with them both on her mamacycle (baby seat in the front, tandem in the back).

2 CommentsLeave a comment

  • I agree with your favorite line from the Huffington Post article mentioned above that,

    “Likeable people do inspire loyalty amongst their peers.”

    I never really quite understood the magic-like quality that a likeable person could have on someone before I started my career in the corporate world. By taking just taking a few minutes out of your daily routine to be nice to people and take a genuine interest can make a world of difference when working with others, especially if it’s 5 o’clock on a Friday and you need a favor.

    In my opinion, nice people definitely don’t finish last, they finish together.

    Also, what a great, motivational quote. I think I’ll be adding that to my desk flair as well.

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