I Was the Nice Girl: It's Not Always a Good Thing
For the longest time black young women in professional spaces have been taught to keep quiet and wait to be told what to do. We are also often afraid of coming across as angry, loud mouths or too woke (a term that can intimidate black women who dare to stand up against injustices faced by black women in the working environment).
Someone advised me to “keep my mouth shut in meetings and go unnoticed” because people do not appreciate a junior that is talkative. I was obedient until I realised that I will always be seen as "that girl" that just sits at that desk. Just another unnoticed employee.I am now learning to unapologetically take up space and not be the invisible girl.
As young black woman who just graduated and have been within the working space for almost two years, I am quickly learning that being a good girl will not get me anywhere. I am now on my second job and I have realised that being a “yes sir” or "yes ma'am" person in these spaces does not work. You would think that being shy and nice will get you on top of the corporate ladder, but it won’t. People see you as an easy target and will use that against you.
I am absolutely not saying that one should be difficult to work with, but simply saying that you should set boundaries for yourself. Yes, you are hired to add value and contribute to the growth of the company but you should also have a stamp of approval on the work that you do.
“No will build you a career faster than yes will”. I have found strength in speaking out by saying things like “No, that offer is not of fair value”, “No, that is not in my employment contract” or even “I do not like the layout”.
You deserve to be in environments that does not drown your voice. Having been led by men for the past two years of my life, I know how intimidating they can be and how they can make it difficult for women to address them, but you can still do it, even when your voice shakes!
Being nice is not a bad thing, especially in this “dog eat dog” world, it is, however, essential to not let people walk all over you for the sake of keeping a job. We deserve do work in spaces that are not intimidated by strong, courageous vocal women.
BOOKS RECOMMENDED TO YOUNG PROFESSIONALS:
- Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office 101 by Lois P.Frankel
- #GirlsBoss by Sophia Amoruso
- The Confidence Code by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman
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Mokgadi Raboshakga is a journalism graduate and a postgrad student from South Africa. She is a content creator and has covered both entertainment and inspiration news stories based on social issues.
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