By Lynne Schinella, conference speaker and speaker coach
Lynne Schinella asks whether being nice can get you places.
Bright eyed and bushy tailed, in my red power suit, my new white Swatch, and my big, big hair, I remember my first interview when I was asked why I wanted to get into the travel industry and I gushed ‘Because I LOOOVE people!’
Look I do, really. I used to. My point here is that apart from the fact that travel really does get under your skin and into your soul, many of us get into the industry originally because we do like people, we love to help and it’s natural we end up in a service industry.
You know who I’m talking about. The nice ones. The ones who genuinely care about the other people in their team. Who organise the birthday cakes, notice when someone is a bit out of sorts, who offer to make the tea, or sit with the sun in their eyes in the meeting room.
They’re the glue in a team. With bucketloads of empathy and kindness these people thrive when everything is harmonious and they’re a part of a successful team. No one services a client like they do.
But like anything there is a dark side to all this loving. It takes time. And that means a phone call, a sales call or chatting at a trade show can often take longer than it should. In fact, those suffering from HUGE amounts of nicety can develop the quite common ailment of “overservicitis”, which we all know can waste time and cost money.
Unexpectedly, the niceness can work against these people. From someone who used to be nice, let me tell you how it works.
You say yes to everything. You like to be able to help, all the time. But others just see you as a pushover.
You’re happy to go with the flow, because you like to be accommodating. Others may see you as indecisive.
You don’t like conflict, so you prefer to walk away, thinking you are being grown up. Others may see you as weak.
And then they take advantage of you.
Finally, you spend so much time caring for other people that you run out of time to care for yourself. Maybe you don’t get enough sleep, don’t have time to exercise, to eat well or indulge in a favourite pastime. And when that happens this little whingey, victimy voice inside starts complaining that it’s not fair!
At one point in my journey I must have got this, because I decided I had had enough doormat practice and needed to take a bit more control. I’m not saying to stop being nice, to stop being you. I am saying there can be a better version of you.
Know when you’re over-servicing and when your client is already super happy. Talking about your respective families for 45 minutes goes beyond relationship building; you’re wasting time. What’s your time worth per hour?
Start saying no. Saying yes to getting that report in, picking up someone else’s kids or talking on that extra project to help out might feel good at the time. But when your workload is already top heavy all you’ve done is commit to a lot of extra stuff that maybe you won’t get to and in the end you’ll let down the very people you were trying to help out. Start saying no today. People will still like you.
Speak up more. Face the loud ones, the confident ones, the sometimes scary ones. You’re not giving them a chance to respect you, let alone build a productive relationship until you start standing up to them. You have an opinion. And if you keep it inside, the business is missing out on all your awesome ideas.
Finally, because you’re saying no, you’ll have more time. So save some niceness for you.