A woman in one of my seminars asked if it were possible for her to be “too nice” when interacting with her employees. She told me that she often felt invisible with them. Since I teach etiquette, some of you may be surprised that I answered “Yes, you can be too nice.” Let me explain.
A few years ago I created The Three Faces of Communication model to help people understand their communication style. Everyone falls somewhere along the spectrum of Too Nice, Polite and Powerful, and The Tough One.
Do you know where you are on this continuum?
Too Nice: Much like the woman in my seminar, you are overly friendly with your employees, and as a result they don’t take you as seriously as they should. You find it difficult to reprimand others when their performance is unacceptable, so you postpone any discussion, sugarcoat it, or pretend there is no problem. Since you are so friendly and unassertive, you have to ask again and again to get things done. You have a tendency to smile too much, beat around the bush, use passive language (I was just wondering… Would you perhaps...), and apologize for things that aren't your fault, such as “I’m so sorry that you had a difficult time with the project.”
The Tough One: You are not friendly at all with your employees, and seldom socialize or make any small talk with them. You rarely bother to say “hello” or “goodbye.” You’re incredibly demanding, and problems can go unresolved because your employees avoid talking to you or telling you the truth. You rarely smile, yet you interrupt others, speak loudly, and curse when angry. You’re aggressive in your language, and say such things as, “Don’t bother me with your questions!” or “Find a way to do it, damn it!” (Learn the power of greetings in my book, The Essentials of Business Etiquette.)
Polite and Powerful: You are polite – you don’t yell or swear. You’re powerful – you speak clearly, calmly and directly. You don’t love conflict, but you know how to handle and resolve it. You are available to your employees, and spend some time getting to know them. You are not wishy-washy with your language, and will use assertive statements when appropriate, such as, “I need this by 3 p.m.” You want your employees to work hard, yet you are fair, and will recognize them for a job well done.
Spend some time reviewing your interactions with others. Knowing how to communicate successfully is key to your career success. Additional information can be found in my book, The Power of Positive Confrontation. Other actions to take if you want to adapt your style include taking an assertiveness class, and listening to the messages you leave on others’ voicemail (before you send them) to learn your word choices.
Pachter & Associates provides seminars and coaching on assertive communication and conflict. Contact Joyce Hoff for more information: (firstname.lastname@example.org or 856.751.6141)