Have you ever been in a situation where you felt pressured to be less than kind or perhaps overly critical in the workplace? For people that are naturally positive or optimistic this can be a horrible feeling. Many people struggle with how to navigate being kind and positive without seeming weak or naive. If you’ve ever felt this way, I have some suggestions for you.
Several years back, I had interviewed for a position which would require managing a large territory in New York City. I would be working with retail professionals across Manhattan and Brooklyn specifically. I was more than qualified for this position. However, being a nice, upbeat girl from New Jersey, there was some doubts surrounding my ability to “handle” the New Yorkers. Ridiculous!
Sometime during my fourth interview the hiring manager took a long pause, looked me up and down and said, “I want to hire you, but I’m afraid you might be too nice.” I was shocked, I had never looked at my ability to be friendly and positive as a liability for career growth prior to that moment! Whoa.
After making some charismatic comment like, “oh you should talk to my husband, I’m sure he’ll tell you otherwise!”, and then literally having to outline examples of how “nasty” I can be in the workplace, I got the job. It felt awful. It felt like I had to suppress who I was and how I managed and it was a mistake.
As you can imagine, my time with this organization was short. I didn’t fit into their culture and I didn’t share the same values as them, things that are key to loving your work, being engaged and contributing at a high level.
I can tell you, with absolute certainty, that the future of business is about being MORE connected to humanity, not less! More than ever work that matters, matters and people that care about people are leading businesses and organizations to their highest levels of achievement.
If you ever find yourself worrying that being too kind or positive could make you appear weak or naive in your workplace, here are a few things you should consider.
Suppressing who you really are is not an option!
If it doesn’t feel right, it usually isn’t right. Don’t behave or respond to situations in a way that isn’t natural to you. If that means your intuition is telling you to approach a challenge at work with positivity than by all means go for it! Remember that being positive is not the same as being naive. Use your skills and experience to demonstrate how positivity serves you as a strength. Embrace your own unique style of leadership as an asset to your business or organization. When we function as ourselves, we function at our best.
Ignore those that consider kindness and positivity as a weakness.
Forget about them! Seriously, they’re so wrong. There are tons of people out there that have to work extremely hard to develop positivity in their lives so if this comes naturally to you, consider it one of your gifts...because it is! Anyone who says otherwise is wrong and my recommendation is to ignore them and just do you. Distancing yourself from negative clients, co-workers or business associates is a way to remain clear about what you stand for. Try to avoid getting yourself in situations that would make you feel pressured to behave in a way that is not aligned with your values.
Keep an open mind.
Try not to fall victim to your own assumptions. Your strengths are the future of business and success! Now is the time to let them shine. Don’t assume that there are industries or career fields that are “tougher” than others. Sure it may appear that way at times and I get it, let’s face it, a corrections officer may have less of an opportunity to exhibit kindness or positivity in the workplace then, let’s say a kindergarten teacher. Or do they? Well, that’s up to them.
Each and every woman has a unique set of skills and talents. If one of your talents is an innate ability to genuinely express kindness or remain positive in the face of challenge then who’s to say you can’t mold that talent to fit in any business or career scenario? I believe you can!
Don’t assume there is a right or wrong way. Find your way. Success is determined by your ability to deliver a desired result. The style in which you deliver that result is up to you! It’s easiest to achieve results when you work within your strengths, and that my friend applies to any field you are in!
So get out there and let your kind, positive nature serve you well! Be who you want to be, not who think you should be.
Bio - Erica G. Craig is a career coach who helps incredible women create extraordinary lives. The foundation of her work is built on the belief that, when women do work that they love, they change themselves, their families and the world! Erica is a born and raised Jersey Girl, wife, mother of 3, and lover of all things outdoors. For more information visit her website, ericagcraig.com
You can find me on all social media as @ericagcraig :)