Fran Hauser is debunking ‘The Myth of the Nice Girl’

When it comes to business, “nice” often seems like a dirty word. Few know that better than Fran Hauser, who’s co-authored the forthcoming book The Myth of the Nice Girl: Achieving a Career You Love Without Becoming a Person You Hate. Hauser, the former president of digital at People magazine, was often asked “How can you be so nice and still be successful?” by younger women in her field, and the false idea that these two traits were mutually exclusive stuck with her.

“I was spending a lot of time talking about this,” she says, “and when I looked around to see if there were any resources on the topic, all I found were books about how nice girls don’t get the corner office.”

The first thing to consider when the book idea came to her was a definition of “nice” in a work context. She came up with something rather extensive and holistic.

“A woman who cares deeply about other people and who wants to connect with them, who is guided by a strong sense of values to do the right thing,” she says. “She is considerate, respectful, and kind. There’s a warmth and magnetism about her that draws people to her side and makes them feel good in her presence. At work, she’s fair, collaborative, and generous. Instead of competing against other women, she elevates them by sharing the credit for a job well done. She has a deep, unshakable confidence that there are plenty of opportunities to go around.”

Now, Hauser believes, is the right time for a broader conversation around not just how women can be more successful while still true to themselves, but how everyone can operate in business more effectively. Hauser cites studies that say women apologize more than men and that teams at work are more successful when everyone feels “psychologically safe.”

“I believe nice is a superpower because at the end of the day business is all about people,” she says. “It’s about being able to influence people, get the best out of your team, have productive conversations when the message you’re delivering is difficult. It is easier to do all of this when you’re kind to people and create an environment of trust and respect.”

“It’s also helped me build my personal confidence; the loyalty of those who've worked with me; and a strong, trusting, faithful network of colleagues, mentors and mentees,” she continues. “It’s my capital – it’s truly my biggest asset.”

Before the book is released on April 17, you can hear what Hauser has to say when Knotel’s Women’s Knetwork brings her to 655 Madison Avenue to provide guidance to any woman worried her “niceness” isn’t paying off.