It is 6 p.m. on a Friday. You are about to head out the door, anxious to get home after a long week. Suddenly, an email pops into your inbox. It is a client, asking if you have time to proofread a 27-page document. What is your next move?
If you are like I was, you let out a sigh, drop your bag and sit back down at your computer.
Because you feel obligated? Because it is urgent and cannot wait until Monday? Or is it because it is the “nice” thing to do?
There is nothing wrong with being a kind person. Kindness means considering the feelings of others, caring for sick family members and being there for friends during tough times. But I have come to realize that being “nice” in business is a different beast entirely, and until recently, I allowed the pursuit of it to seriously stand in my way.
When you stop worrying about being nice and start putting your needs first, incredible things can happen for your career.
1. People start to respect your time.
It is the basic principle behind the scarcity value—people value something more when it is less available. The same goes for your time. When you stop making yourself available at all hours, people respect the time they do have with you more.
Set boundaries for when you are and are not available to clients—and stick to them.
2. You make more money.
If I had a nickel for every time I avoided asking for more money, it would be highly ironic, because I would make a lot of that money back in nickel form.
It is not rude to ask for what you are worth.
I repeat: it is not rude to ask for what you are worth.
When you are worried about being too presumptuous or appearing greedy, you do not ask for more money. The majority of the time, you cannot make more money without asking for it.
Figure out what you are worth, put together a strong case, and ask for the raise.
Related: How to ask for a raise and get it
3. You work on more interesting projects.
When you are worried about being nice, you say "yes" to things purely out of obligation.
When you start saying "no" to projects that do not interest you, you free up time for those that do—and you will do better work as a result.
4. You have more time for things that matter.
Oh, the time suck that comes from always saying "yes!"
When you stop being nice and start weeding out those networking events, PTA bake sales and baby showers for your third cousin once removed, you will find you have more time (and energy!) for the activities that are truly important to you.
5. You attract the right kind of clients.
We all want clients that who respectful, appreciative and easy to communicate with. When you find a great client, it is natural to want to do a good job.
But when you set a precedent for bending over backwards for a specific account, that kind of behavior starts to become expected as the norm.
Set yourself up for a healthy client relationship from the start by clearly communicating your work process: times you work, times you disconnect, the process for changes and approvals, etc. When you set clear boundaries before a contract begins, you’ll be more likely to end up working with clients who respect them.
6. You feel more in control of your life.
It is true what they say: You have to look out for yourself, because no one else is going to do it for you.
When you stop being nice and start making your time, career and interests a priority, you will feel empowered to take even more proactive steps in the direction of your goals.
7. You accomplish your goals faster.
When you prioritize your goals rather than someone else’s, an incredible thing happens: You actually accomplish them, and on a shorter timeline to boot.
Not checking emails after 5 p.m. Taking your kids on a week-long vacation. Launching the business you have been dreaming of. How could your life change if you stopped worrying about “being nice?”
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