Book Review: The Myth of the Nice Girl

The Myth of the Nice Girl is for anyone who has ever received the backhanded compliment, "You're too nice!" The book could just as easily have been titled "The Celebration of the Nice Girl" because author Fran Hauser believes that women who genuinely care about others have a super power, and she's here to help them own it--beginning with five great responses to somone whose idea of "nice" is either too vague to be helpful or contrary to your values:

  1. "I know, and it's really served me well."
  2. "Don't mistake my kindness for weakness."
  3. "You say that as if it's something negative."
  4. "I've come to realize that it is actually possible to be nice and strong. They are not mutually exclusive."
  5. "It's better than the alternative . . . who wants to deal with a jerk?"

Practical advice like this list is one of the best things about The Myth of the Nice Girl. Hauser even includes the exact wording of a networking email that caught her eye in her inbox! You'll also find:

  • ideas for taking credit
  • strategies for speaking up
  • ways to approach decision-making with confidence
  • tips for negotiating (spoiler: it's not "like a man")
  • a framework for setting boundaries

Hauser shares actual mistakes she made, from bulldozing a colleague to being a people-pleaser. Her discussion of the distinction between "nice" and "people-pleasing" is invaluable.

Finally, ardent followers of Nice Girls Don't Get the Corner Office don't have to give up their best practices. Myth and Corner Office actually complement each other.



Corner Office focuses on the "girl" in "nice girls", i.e., being grown-up rather than girlish, while Myth focuses on the "nice", i.e., being successful while caring.  Both books insist that the secret to success is not acting like a man, and they cover many of the same issues (stepping up, speaking up, taking space, etc.). Corner Office is written from the perspective of an outside coach, while Myth is written from the perspective of a woman who has risen through the ranks and wants to mentor others coming after her. In fact, if you've been looking for a good mentor, you can't go wrong with this 189-page mentoring session with Fran Hauser!