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Avoid overdosing on niceness at work

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in Office Politics,Workplace Communication

Most people want to be nice as much as possible, but doing so in the office can hold them back professionally. That’s the No. 1 lesson that Amy Keyishian, an author at LearnVest, writes that she took away after reading Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.

Keyishian summarized eight nice behaviors that Sandberg says women—and men—must avoid in the workplace if they want to get ahead:

  1. Staying out of everyone’s way. No one will notice you if you’re always sitting in the outer ring of chairs at meetings. Instead, take a seat at the main table.
  2. Being modest about your shortcomings. “Fake it ’til you make it.” Go for that promotion or challenging assignment even if you don’t feel fully qualified, and then learn as you go.
  3. Following instructions exactly. Consider this example from a Sandberg speaking engagement. After she said she’d only take two more questions, some people gave up while others tried harder to get her to call on them. You should be one of the ones trying.
  4. Dismissing compliments. When you do so, you look insecure and ungracious. Instead, accept praise gracefully.
  5. Accepting a first salary offer. Explain why you’re worth more and push to be paid accordingly.
  6. Letting it slide when co-workers screw up. Instead, bring up problems in a respectful way and contribute to their solution.
  7. Waiting for someone to offer feedback. If they don’t, you’ll never know what you’re doing well and what you need to improve on. Ask for feedback, even the sort that may be hard to hear.
  8. Smiling pleasantly at all times. If you’re pretending to be happy all of the time, you’re missing out on opportunities to form real connections with colleagues. Be genuine and true to your feelings.

— Adapted from “9 Ways Being Nice At Work Is Holding You Back,” Amy Keyishian, Forbes.

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