I just finished reading the article ‘Nice girls don’t ask’ on Harvard Business Review. Research has shown that both conscious and subconscious biases contribute to the problem of men and women still being treated unequally at the workplace, but one subtler source of inequality is that ‘Women often don’t get what they want and deserve because they don’t ask for it!’
So true! I’m living proof of the fact that I haven’t got what I wanted or really deserved professionally as I’ve never assertively asked for it. I’ve always firmly believed that let my work do the talking, people will judge me through my work, their acceptance of my capabilities is enough to make me feel happy about myself. I try and look at both sides of the story, form my own opinion but only voice that which is politically correct. I openly offer advice and support if people ask for it or even if it’s only a conversation, without for a moment thinking, what’s in it for me? Should I really be doing this? How will the information be used? Does the other person really deserve my help? Wasn’t this the same person who’d stabbed me some time ago?
Yes, this stance has helped me to gain credibility, create a niche for myself and build a strong network of contacts. Sometimes, it’s made me seem unbiased and objective.
But, now I strongly believe that amidst this, people have come to take me for granted – the general feeling is that she’s a ‘nice’ person and very helpful. She’s adaptable so will accept whatever is doled out to her. Perhaps some feel she’s just too naive (read stupid). In fact, a contact recently told me, ‘if you don’t have an opinion, you don’t count!’
There have been numerous occasions when I’ve wanted credit for something that I’ve truly done but never pushed for it or simply preferred to remain in the background. Happy and satisfied, internally, that I made it happen. People have individually come to says thanks but it’s rarely ever been in public. Reading the HBR article, I felt like I’d let myself down. I should have been more assertive.
I can think of many reasons for being this way but I don’t want to give myself any excuses today!