If you work nonstop without a break...worry about offending others and back down too easily...explain too much when asked for information....or "poll" your friends and colleagues before making a decision, chances are you have been bypassed for promotions and ignored when you expressed your ideas. Although you may not be aware of it, girlish behaviors such as these are sabotaging your career!
Dr. Lois Frankel reveals why some women roar ahead in their careers while others stagnate. She's spotted a unique set of behaviors101 in allthat women learn in girlhood that sabotage them as adults. Now, in this groudbreaking guide, she helps you eliminate these unconscious mistakes that could be holding you backand offers invaluable coaching tips you can easily incorporate into your social and business skills. If you recognize and change the behaviors that say "girl" not "woman", the results will pay off in carrer opportunites you never thought possibleand in an image that identifies you as someone with the power and know-how to occupy the corner office.
About the Author
Lois P. Frankel, Ph.D., is the President of Corporate Coaching International. She is a sought-after speaker. Her websites are www.drloisfrankel.com; www.gr8speakers.com; and www.corporatecoachingintl.com
Read an Excerpt
Nice Girls Don't Get the Corner Office
By Lois P. Frankel
Warner BooksCopyright © 2004 Lois P. Frankel, Ph.D.
All right reserved.
Chapter OneGetting Started
Here's your first coaching tip: Don't begin reading this book until you've learned how to use it to your advantage. You'll only end up thinking everything applies to you in equal proportions when in fact you're probably doing better than you think. You know how we women can be-more critical of ourselves than necessary and reluctant to take credit where it's due. When I coach women, I often tell them that changing behavior is much easier if they can understand where it comes from and what purpose it serves. All behavior serves a purpose-take a few minutes now to understand what purpose yours serves.
From the outset I want you to know and, even more important, believe that the mistakes impeding you from reaching your career goals or potential don't happen because you're stupid or incompetent (although others might want to make you think so). You are simply acting in ways consistent with your socialization. Beyond girlhood, no one ever tells us that acting differently is an option-and so we don't. Whether it's because we are discouraged from doing so or because we are unaware of the alternatives, we often fail to develop a repertoire of woman-appropriate behaviors.
As an executive coach to both men and women in organizations of all sizes around the world, I've had the opportunity to gain insight into why some people move forward fluidly in their careers while others stagnate, never fully reaching their potential.
Although there are plenty of mistakes made by both men and women that hold them back, there are a unique set of mistakes made predominantly by women. Whether I'm working in Jakarta, Oslo, Prague, Frankfurt, Wellington, or Detroit, I'm amazed to watch women across cultures make the same mistakes at work. They may be more exaggerated in Hong Kong than in Houston, but they're variations on the same theme. And I know they're mistakes because once women address them and begin to act differently, their career paths take wonderful turns they never thought possible.
So why do women stay in the place of girlhood long after it's productive for them? One reason is because we've been taught that acting like a girl-even when we're grown up-isn't such a bad thing. Girls get taken care of in ways boys don't. Girls aren't expected to fend for or take care of themselves-others do that for them. Sugar and spice and everything nice-that's what little girls are made of. Who doesn't want to be everything nice?
The virtues of girls are extolled in songs. "I Enjoy Being a Girl." "Thank Heaven for Little Girls." "My Girl." "The Girl from Ipanema." Who wouldn't want to be a girl? People like girls. Men want to protect you. Cuddly or sweet, tall or tan, girls don't ask for much. They're nice to be around and they're nice to have around-sort of like pets.
Being a girl is certainly easier than being a woman. Girls don't have to take responsibility for their destiny. Their choices are limited by a narrowly defined scope of expectations. And here's another reason why we continue to exhibit the behaviors learned in childhood even when at some level we know they're holding us back: We can't see beyond the boundaries that have traditionally circumscribed the parameters of our influence. It's dangerous to go out of bounds. When you do, you get accused of trying to act like a man or being "bitchy." All in all, it's easier to behave in socially acceptable ways.
There's only one problem. When we live a life circumscribed by the expectations of others, we live a limited life. What does it really mean to live our lives as girls rather than women? It means we choose behaviors consistent with those that are expected of us rather than those that move us toward fulfillment and self-actualization. Rather than live consciously, we live reactively. Although we mature physically, we never really mature emotionally. And while this may allow us momentary relief from real-world dilemmas, it never allows us to be fully in control of our destiny.
As I said in the introduction, observing, coaching, and facilitating workshops for professional women have enabled me to learn firsthand how acting like a girl gets in the way of achieving your career potential. Missed opportunities for career-furthering assignments or promotions arise from being reluctant to showcase your capabilities, feeling hesitant to speak in meetings, and working so hard that you forget to build the relationships necessary for long-term success. These behaviors are only magnified in workshops at which men and women are the participants. My work in corporations allows me to facilitate both workshops for only women and leadership development programs for mixed groups within the same company. Even women whom I've seen act assertively in a group of other women become more passive, compliant, and reticent to speak in a mixed group.
The Case of Susan
Let me give you an example of a woman with whom I worked who wondered why she wasn't reaching her full potential. Susan was a procurement manager for a Fortune 100 oil company. She'd been with this firm for more than twelve years when she expressed frustration over not moving as far or as fast as male colleagues who'd commenced employment at the same time she did. Although Susan thought there might be gender bias at play, she never considered how she contributed to her own career plateauing. Before Susan and I met one-on-one in a coaching session, I had the opportunity to observe her in meetings with her peers.
At the first meeting I noticed this attractive woman with long blond hair, diminutive figure, and deep blue eyes. Being from Texas, she spoke with a delicate Southern accent and had an alluring way of cocking her head and smiling as she listened to others. She was a pleasure to have in the room, but she reminded me of a cheerleader-attractive, vivacious, warm, and supportive.
As others spoke, she nodded her head and smiled. When she did speak, she used equivocating phrases like "Perhaps we should consider ..."; "Maybe it's because ..."; and "What if we ..." Because of these behaviors no one would ever accuse Susan of being offensive, but neither would they consider her executive material.
After several more meetings at which I observed her behavior vis-à-vis her peers, Susan and I met privately to explore her career aspirations. Based on her looks, demeanor, and what I had heard her say in meetings, I assumed she was perhaps thirty to thirty-five years old. I was floored when she told me she was forty-seven, with nearly twenty years' experience in the area of procurement. I had no clue she had that kind of history and experience-and if I didn't, no one else did either. Without realizing it, Susan was acting in ways consistent with her socialization. She had received so much positive reinforcement for these behaviors that she'd come to believe they were the only ways she could act and still be successful.
Susan bought into the stereotype of bein' a girl.
Truth be told, the behaviors she exhibited in meetings did contribute to her early career success. The problem was that they would not contribute to reaching future goals and aspirations. Her management, peers, and direct reports acknowledged she was a delight to work with, but they didn't seriously consider her for more senior positions or high-visibility projects. Susan acted like a girl and, accordingly, was treated like one. Although she knew she had to do some things differently if she were to have any chance of reaching her potential, she didn't have a clue what they would be.
I eventually came to learn Susan was the youngest of four children and the only girl in the family. She was the apple of Daddy's eye and protected by her brothers. She learned early on that being a girl was a good thing. She used it to her advantage. And as Susan grew up, she continued to rely on the stereotypically feminine behaviors that resulted in getting her needs met. She was the student teachers loved having in class, the classmate with whom everyone wanted to be friends, and the cheerleader everyone admired. Susan had no reference for alternative ways of acting that would bring her closer to her dream of being promoted to a vice president position.
We're All Girls at Heart
Although Susan is an extreme example of how being a girl can pay huge dividends, most of us have some Susan in us. We behave in ways consistent with the roles we were socialized to play, thereby never completely moving from girlhood to womanhood. As nurturers, supporters, or helpmates, we are more invested in seeing others get their needs met than we are in ensuring that ours are acknowledged. And there's another catch. When we do try to break out of those roles and act in more mature, self-actualizing ways, we are often met with subtle-and not-so-subtle-resistance designed to keep us in a girl role. Comments like "You're so cute when you're angry," "What's the matter? Are you on the rag?" or "Why can't you be satisfied with where you are?" are designed to keep us in the role of a girl.
When others question our femininity or the validity of our feelings, our typical response is to back off rather than make waves. We question the veracity of our experience. If it's fight or flight, we often flee. And every time we do, we take a step back into girlhood and question our self-worth. In this way we collude with others to remain girls rather than become women. And here is where we must begin to accept responsibility for not getting our needs met or never reaching our full potential. Eleanor Roosevelt was right when she said, "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." Stop consenting. Stop colluding. Quit bein' a girl!
Managing Your Anxiety
I can see by the looks on women's faces, and from their comments, that anxiety and confusion are part of the learning process. My 1989 audiotape, Women and Power: Understand Your Fear/Releasing Your Potential, and my book, Women, Anger & Depression: Strategies for Self-Empowerment (Health Communications, 1991) contain now dated examples, but the content related to the process remains on target. More than a decade later, when the suggestion is made to embrace their power, women reject the notion of being perceived as too masculine, aggressive, or uncooperative out of fear. It is so counter to our socialization that we dismiss it out of hand. The notion that we must be for others rather than for ourselves is implanted so strongly that we are reluctant to explore the alternative.
The irony is that women act powerfully all the time, but in ways different from men. Relying on our "girlish charm" can be just as influential, but less direct and less confrontational. In other words, we wield power less directly than men. We've learned to be less direct so we will not be perceived as taking too much power away from men. This is at the core of our difficulties with gaining increased influence skills and organizational visibility.
Each time a woman directly asserts herself, however, she is essentially saying to the men in her life (whether they are husbands, sons, bosses, or other male authority figures), "I want something from you. I want what is rightfully mine. I expect my needs to be met, too." With each assertion we frequently feel guilty. We equate taking control back with taking something away from someone else.
More than simply getting what we need, deserve, or want, we are forcing others to give back what we have been giving away for so long. The reactions we get are difficult to cope with. Others don't really want the situation to change-they already have everything they need, so why should they change?
Resistance to change is normal. It is to be expected. Like the alcoholic in recovery who finds others colluding to bring him or her back to a place of intoxication, the girl who moves toward womanhood will find herself faced with people who want to continue to infantilize her. This is what you must keep in mind if you want to achieve your goals.
What's a Girl to Do?
Here are some specific coaching tips-a prelude of what is to follow. Take them one at a time. Don't try to do them all at once- you'll only set yourself up for frustration. Choose one or two on which to work, then come back for more. Give yourself permission to move from girlhood to womanhood. It may seem like a simple idea, but it's one that is often resisted for all the reasons mentioned above. Have a good, long talk with yourself. Tell yourself that you are not only allowed, but entitled to act in ways that move you toward goal attainment. Try the mantra I am entitled to have my needs met, too.
Visualize yourself as you want to be. If you can see it, you can have it. Picture yourself in the role to which you aspire. If it's in the corner office, see yourself at the desk with the accoutrements that go along with it. Consider the behaviors in which you will engage to warrant this position and the ways in which you will act. Bring them into your reality.
Talk back to the fearful voice inside your head. This may sound crazy at first, but you must counter the old messages and replace them with new ones. If your fearful girl's voice says, "But no one will like me if I change," let your woman's voice respond with, "That's an old message. Let's create a new, more empowered one."
Surround yourself with a Plexiglas shield. The Plexiglas shield is designed to allow you to see what is going on around you, but not be punctured by the negativity of others. I suggested this to a client, who later told me she thought it sounded a little crazy but decided to try it-only to find that it worked! In difficult situations she would picture herself encapsulated in a Plexiglas bubble that protected her from the disparaging remarks of others and allowed her to remain in a grounded, adult position.
Create the word on the street. A routine exercise we do in leadership classes is to ask participants to write a twenty-five-word vision statement of how they want to be described, then list the behaviors needed to get them there. You can do the same. Write down what you want others to be saying about you, then follow it up with specific actions to make it happen. In short, accept the responsibility of adulthood.
Recognize resistance and put a name to it. When you find others resisting your efforts to be more direct and empowered, con-ider first that their responses are designed to keep you in a less powerful place. Rather than acquiesce, question it. Say something like, "It seems you don't agree with what I'm saying. Let me give you the rationale for my position and then perhaps you can tell me what it is you take issue with."
Ask for feedback.
Excerpted from Nice Girls Don't Get the Corner Office by Lois P. Frankel Copyright © 2004 by Lois P. Frankel, Ph.D.. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Getting Started 1
Chapter 2 How You Play the Game 19
1 Pretending It Isn't a Game 20
2 Playing the Game Safely and within Bounds 22
3 Working Hard 24
4 Doing the Work of Others 26
5 Working without a Break 28
6 Being Naive 30
7 Pinching Company Pennies 32
8 Waiting to Be Given What You Want 34
9 Avoiding Office Politics 38
10 Being the Conscience 40
11 Protecting Jerks 44
12 Holding Your Tongue 46
13 Failing to Capitalize on Relationships 48
14 Not Understanding the Needs of Your Constituents 50
Chapter 3 How You Act 53
15 Polling Before Making a Decision 54
16 Needing to Be Liked 56
17 Not Needing to Be Liked 58
18 Not Asking Questions for Fear of Sounding Stupid 60
19 Acting Like a Man 62
20 Telling the Whole Truth and Nothing but the Truth (So Help You God) 65
21 Sharing Too Much Personal Information 68
22 Being Overly Concerned with Offending Others 70
23 Denying the Importance of Money 72
24 Flirting 74
25 Acquiescing to Bullies 76
26 Decorating Your Office Like Your Living Room 78
27 Feeding Others 80
28 Offering a Limp Handshake 82
29 Being Financially Insecure 84
30 Helping 87
Chapter 4 How You Think 89
31 Making Miracles 90
32 Taking Full Responsibility 92
33 Obediently Following Instructions 94
34 Viewing Men in Authority as Father Figures 96
35 Limiting Your Possibilities 98
36 Ignoring the Quid Pro Quo 102
37 Skipping Meetings 104
38 Putting Work Ahead of Your Personal Life 106
39 Letting People Waste Your Time 108
40 Prematurely Abandoning Your Career Goals 110
41 Ignoring the Importance of Network Relationships 113
42 Refusing Perks 116
43 Making Up Negative Stories 118
44 Striving for Perfection 120
Chapter 5 How You Brand and Market Yourself 123
45 Failing to Define Your Brand 124
46 Minimizing Your Work or Position 126
47 Using Only Your Nickname or First Name 128
48 Waiting to Be Noticed 130
49 Refusing High-Profile Assignments 132
50 Being Modest 134
51 Staying in Your Safety Zone 136
52 Giving Away Your Ideas 138
53 Working in Stereotypical Roles or Departments 140
54 Ignoring Feedback 142
55 Being Invisible 144
Chapter 6 How You Sound 147
56 Couching Statements as Questions 148
57 Using Preambles 150
58 Explaining 152
59 Asking Permission 154
60 Apologizing 156
61 Using Minimizing Words 158
62 Using Qualifiers 160
63 Not Answering the Question 162
64 Talking Too Fast 164
65 The Inability to Speak the Language of Your Business 166
66 Using Nonwords 168
67 Using Touchy-Feely Language 170
68 The Sandwich 172
69 Speaking Softly 176
70 Speaking at a Higher-than-Natural Pitch 178
71 Trailing Voice Mails 180
72 Failing to Pause or Reflect Before Responding 182
Chapter 7 How You Look 185
73 Smiling Inappropriately 186
74 Taking Up Too Little Space 188
75 Using Gestures Inconsistent with Your Message 190
76 Being Over- or Underanimated 192
77 Tilting Your Head 194
78 Wearing Inappropriate Makeup 196
79 Wearing the Wrong Hairstyle 198
80 Dressing Inappropriately 200
81 Sitting on Your Foot 202
82 Grooming in Public 204
83 Sitting in Meetings with Your Hands under the Table 206
84 Wearing Your Reading Glasses around Your Neck 208
85 Accessorizing Too Much 210
86 Failing to Maintain Eye Contact 212
Chapter 8 How You Respond 215
87 Internalizing Messages 216
88 Believing Others Know More than You 219
89 Taking Notes, Getting Coffee, and Making Copies 222
90 Tolerating Inappropriate Behavior 224
91 Exhibiting Too Much Patience 228
92 Accepting Dead-End Assignments 230
93 Putting the Needs of Others Before Your Own 232
94 Denying Your Power 234
95 Allowing Yourself to Be the Scapegoat 237
96 Accepting the Fait Accompli 239
97 Permitting Others' Mistakes to Inconvenience You 242
98 Being the Last to Speak 244
99 Playing the Gender Card 246
100 Tolerating Sexual Harassment 249
101 Crying 251
Appendix Personal Development Planning and Resources 255
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Nice Girls Don't Get the Corner Office 101 by Lois P. Frankel is a book that all women should receive upon graduation from college. It is amazing what we, the female gender, do to undermine ourselves without realizing it. Many of us, who come from homes that were supportive and definitely didn't pigeonhold us into the subservient female role, would never imagine how much we have picked up from the social cues and trends around us. Though, until recently, I would have not realized that I suffered from "nice girl syndrome", nor would I have connected it to ill health in my professional (or personal) life for that matter, I have now received a shocking education. Like jumping into a lake much colder than the tepid waters you were expecting, Nice Girls startles you with realization, while you emerge more refreshed because of it. If Nice Girls was a friend, it would be the one who says, "yes, you really do look fat in that outfit, but here's another that will accentuate what a wonderful body you actually have." See, it is not mean; it is truthful with gems of coaching advice. Frankel does not leave you hanging; she will tell you outright how you are shooting yourself in the foot, but then she will remove the gun from your hand and replace it with bandages and antiseptic. I have borrowed this one from the public library, but will be adding it my personal library. This is too valuable of a resource to not own and be able to refer back to until these life changing tips become healthy habits. As we change and grow our areas that we reference to in this book will also change, and I would like to have the ability to take and retake the questionnaire, that guides you through the book, as often as I like. Frankly, I'm not sure I know more than three or four women who don't need to read this book. (originally posted on www.coconutlibrary.typepad.com)
As a young 24 year old female working in a man's field, i originally thought this book was absurd and didnt apply in the least bit. Struggling to gain respect from the 10 men at least 10 years older than me that i supervised, i continued to troop through this book. I took the quiz as instructed, and followed the book as designed. I dont work in an office, so i was already discouraged. I worked on two suggestions a week, realizing that they did somehow pertain to me. Minor changes, how i stand, discipline of employees, showing sympathy, down to how i tie my hair, or packing away my cutesy earrings have lead me to great respect and success in an amazingly short time frame. It has also taught me how to interact more with pushy or angry customers and to keep control of the situation. Did i turn into macho butch chick? Absolutely not! Even practicing simple suggestions and watching peoples reactions is amazing. Ive suggested this book numerous times, bought it paper and ebook, and a year later still cruise through it. Its not a miracle worker, but great motivation and simple steps for a lady looking for success. You will have to apply the rules to your own life and atmosphere, remember the author is writing generally. I highly suggest this book! Make sure you read it as designed!
I loved this book b/c it really taught me something about myself and what makes me tick. It also really helped me figure out ways to work on my weaknesses.
I bought the book thinking it would have some 'new' information. It didn't. Mostly common sense things - like don't share personal info at work. In all honesty, I have not finished the book. However, I will because I don't like to waste money. I suggest getting it from your library first and then if you really like it buy the book. Otherwise, don't waste your money.
This book hit the nail on the head! I bought this book as a 'just in case' guide to be sure I wasn't acting any way I shouldn't. I felt I had respect from my male peers, but not enough. I started reading this book, thinking, 'I certainly do not do any of these things! I'm not a typical woman.' But sure enough, she hit on some points that I found myself guilty of. I believe there is not one woman out there who could not benefit from at least one of her rules. It has changed my work career and state of mind drastically! It's a career-saver.
This is a great read. I was able to apply so many things to my own life.
I bought the audio bundle of this product, which includes "Nice Girls don´t get the corner office", which I found substantial, and "Nice Girls don´t get Rich", which was totally a waste of time, as the author is not a financial advisor and the content was full of common sense and fillers. I do reccomend Nice Girls don´t get the corner office for everyone, even high schoolers. It is a must read for the ones entering the workfore or the ones are not satisfied with their career success.
I saw all the positive reviews for this book and thought "why not give it a shot?". I did not buy it for myself but for my wife who is a corporate attorney. She loved it. Along the same lines, I also suggest another book titled "The Career Journey" by author Ram Iyer. For some reason, that book is not listed here but I ordered from Amazon. It is really one cool book with a lot of practical suggestions and tips on how to excel at your current work environment and rise up the corporate ladder. Unlike this book that is more tailored for female, "The Career Journey" is more unisex and much more practical.
Excellent ideas,easy read. Every girl in her early twenties should read this before getting her first job in the big world. It is so true and would save a lot grief by breaking these bad habits early! Really liked it wish I had read it 20 yrs ago.
Great tips on real life business situations and the attitudes that women can bring to the table unknowningly. A confidence builder.
This book has been so helpful in my personal and business life that I purchased multiple copies to give out to my female family and friends.
This book was an excellent read, one every woman, no matter her success level, can gain insight and value from. This would be a book, however, that one may need to reference or skim through again- for every advice or tip can't be memorized. I am a young woman in her early 20s just starting her career, and I am glad I bought this book now and not later.
I was about to pass this book up because the title didn't catch my attention. As I looked at the back cover,I thought to myself, "I do plenty of things to further my career, I don't need to look at this book!" Now that I've finished reading the book, I am so glad I gave this book a chance.It helped me to see how women, myself included, act in certain ways which ultimately prevents us from furthering their career or obtaining their career goals. Frankel starts in chapter one by noting that although this book lists 101 mistakes that women make in reference to their career,all women will not make all the mistakes listed in the book. After stating this fact, Frankel then presents a self-assessment chart for the reader to fill out to determine where she needs the most work to change her female behavior. Since each part of the assessment focuses on a particular weakness,each chapter following the assessment focuses on how women play the game, act, think, market,sound,look and respond. When using describing female behavior, Frankel means the behavior that girls have been taught through society as well as in their own childhoods.She feels that women have been taught to be less outspoken, to be nurturers and providers, and to cater to their male co-workers. For example, I will admit that at my job, I sometimes do the work that is assigned to others. This is because I feel if I don't do it, it won't get done; Frankel label this behavior as mistake #4: Doing the work of Others.According to the book, I can resolve this problem by only doing what I am assigned to do and if I feel guilty for saying no to others,use self-talk to replace feeling guilty. What I like most about the book is that she provides the mistake on one page and then on the opposite page, she provides coaching tips. Since she works as an executive coach, she provides lots of tips. She also provides real like experience that she had with clients in reference to each mistake and discusses the problem that each women faced as well as how with her help, they were able to come up with a solution. Overall, I feel that this is a great book for any women whether she is woman at a Fortune 500 company or at Burger King. If we as women are to be more active in the business women, we need to learn rules so we know how to play the game. Also, we need to realize that although our past behavior worked for us at one time, in order to fully obtain our career goals, we need to learn to not cater to other but instead, we need to focus on the the highest level of success possible.
This book has been all that I hoped for and more. The book, in a nutshell, basically says that to get ahead in life, in career, in everything, women need to stop acting like little girls.Replete with examples from Ms. Frankel's consulting clients, this book gives practical, no-holds-barred evaluations of such behaviours as feeding people at the office, working too hard, asking questions instead of making statements, and "asking permission." That last was a revelation to me. As Ms. Frankel points out, we are all raised in a society that says you should get proper approvals before taking a step---any step. But men learn when to ask and when to just go ahead. Men learn how to apply the rubric "It's easier to get forgiveness than to get permission." Ms. Frankel pointes out that children, not adults, ask for permission to do perfectly rational things. I had never considered how detrimental to my career the habit of asking permission had been. But I decided to give Ms. Frankel's suggestions a try. They worked!If you are feeling frustrated by the glass ceiling, if you feel stuck and can't figure out why you can't get further in your career ambitions (and if you're a female), this book is definitely worth the investment. It opened my eyes to things I did that I never even thought about, things that presented an image of an incompetent child---not a competent, composed, and capable woman. My image is now improving, and yours can too.
This book is a good resource. It's easy to read with short chapters and action steps. Something like this should be in every professional woman's library. Even if you're doing a lot of things right, there are probably a few things that can be improved. I am going to buy copies for a few of my friends.
Greatest advice ever,period.