Dale Carnegie wrote How to Win Friends and Influence People 76 years ago. While terms like “soft skills” and “emotional intelligence” were not yet part of the conversation, the associated concepts certainly were. Then and now, we are told that in order to be successful, we must develop an ability to play well with others.
That’s sound advice (don’t you wish everyone thought so!), but some people confuse being nice with being agreeable—too quick to say “yes” and too quick to concede. To have influence and impact, you must also set boundaries, speak with confidence, and be willing to risk rejection for your beliefs. You can start by implementing these two practices:
Serve yourself. If you are quick to notice the needs of others and always say “yes” to their requests, take note of how doing so may be affecting your life. Practice saying, “I wish I could help you, but it’s not possible right now.” It’s fine to be nice to others—just not at your own expense.
Stand your ground. If you have reason to believe that a doomed project can be turned around, speak up with conviction. You may not be the most experienced person in the room, but if you’re the one with a viable plan, you can still be the one who saves the day.
The bottom line? When you stand up for yourself and your ideas in an appropriate manner, you will likely find that others listen with respect. Being nice to others is well and good—just be sure to put yourself on the list as well.