Being a nice girl, why do I fail to take credit for my work?

Karen R Koenig

Women who are too nice have a tendency to feel grossly uncomfortable taking compliments and praise, never mind whooping it up over their achievements. While humility is an admirable quality, it needs to be balanced out with being tickled pink when you’ve done something exceptional (or even just pretty darned good). The problem stems from early training to be modest and observing female role models - in reality, on TV, in movies - who demur and hand off credit to other people (usually men) and are, therefore, viewed as sweet and humble. Poppycock! While there’s nothing wrong with sharing credit or even occasionally having an Aw, shucks reaction, as a modus operandi in the workplace, it’s a disaster for women.

Nice women are often afraid of being perceived as boastful, conceited, full of themselves, and overly prideful. Trust me, nice women do not ever have to worry about getting a swelled head. A shrunken head, yes; swelled, no way.

In a healthy upbringing, children are taught to take credit and enjoy feeling good about their achievements, but not brag and lord them over others. Parents encourage progeny to enjoy success and tolerate and learn from failure. In some unhealthy environments, parents are competitive with their children. Maybe Mom was insecure and couldn’t stand someone showering you with compliments because it made her feel diminished. To avoid competing, you learned to pipe down and shrug off your successes; worse, you learned to feel ashamed of being proud. Maybe you had siblings who weren’t as clever as you, so you had to pretend not to do well or play down your accomplishments just so you wouldn’t outshine them.

However you arrived at the place where taking credit is more pain than pleasure, you’ve got to turn around your thinking or you won’t get over your nice girl or eating problems. Somehow in your mind it’s better to come home from work and celebrate a promotion with a chunk of cheesecake than to go out and celebrate with a cadre of friends. This is not healthy behavior and, frankly, it’s not even fun. Learning how to feel proud of your achievements is one of the joys of work - and living. You’re bound to make plenty of mistakes along the way to balance out successes, so why not enjoy them while you can?

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