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She Was Nice, So I Didn’t Say Anything: A cautionary tale about standing up for yourself 

By  Judy Fine

As females, our conditioning to be nice runs deep, which sometimes makes standing up for yourself hard.

This is exactly what I help female confidence coaching clients rewrite the script on. Yet, even after spending years rewriting the script for myself, I fell prey to it not so long ago. Why did I slip backwards into the "be nice and smile" pit? Because the other person was being incredibly nice. So, I didn't say anything.

Several years ago, I decided to invest more in myself and my business. This was a big decision. I was always an "I'll just do it myself" kind of person. But there is a benefit to using other people's expertise, and I decided it was time for me to do that. Based on a recommendation from an acquaintance, I hired a company to build my new membership/course website.

Warning signs were there early on. For example, the owner and I had a phone meeting where it was clear that she had not taken notes during the previous discussion because she didn't remember some very basic aspects of what I wanted to put out there via my new website. But she seemed very nice and inquisitive during this phone call, so I let it go and didn't say anything.

Eight or nine weeks later, when it was supposed to be time for the site to launch, she was out of town. 

Her team was supposed to let me know what was going on but I heard nothing for more than a day. So, I wrote to the office associate who told me they ran into some snags but were working on it and she'd get back to me. A couple of days passed with no word. But the office worker had seemed really nice. There were lots of exclamation marks in her email!!! So, I didn't say anything.

The following week, still no website launch. The owner was back and telling me there were unforeseen issues, and well, you can't predict all the problems you might run into at launch. They were working to get the set launched ASAP, and she was really sorry. So, I let it go and didn't say anything.

The site launched soon after that...

...and I informed all my current members how to log into the new site.

But then more problems arose, and I had to tell my members "just kidding!" It was embarrassing, but the owner felt "really, really bad" and promised me she was on it. So, I stopped saying anything.

The website was finally up and members could use it again. 

But it was riddled with bad links, and typos, and other problems. I sent a punch list to the owner who forwarded it to her office worker to deal with. You see, the web designers were no longer working on my project. They had moved on to more important things, I guess. 

The office worker diligently completed the punch list but didn't seem to notice that what she changed didn't look like the other pages on the website. She was still very nice (still rocking the exclamation marks!!!), so instead of saying anything. I just fixed it myself.

And that "do it myself" reflex of mine continued. 

Instead of planning and implementing marketing strategies for the new site, I spent the following weeks fixing and updating the things that I had paid for them to complete.

In a moment of frustration and disappointment, I wrote an email to the owner telling her there were aspects of the site that didn't function correctly and I didn't know how to fix them. I told her that I felt she abandoned me before the job was done. 

She called and apologized, and then told me how the poor launch triggered old baggage in her. Suddenly, we're talking about deep shit that had nothing to do with building a website.

And when the conversation was over, my abandonment resumed. She did absolutely nothing to rectify the situation. I was alone with my website again. But she had confided in me about her inner little girl. How do I complain after that? So, I didn't say anything more.

Months passed and hours upon hours of my life were spent making a great (and functioning) website myself. I did finally lay out a detailed collection of all the ways that she had wasted my time and did not provide what she promised. And she gave me a partial refund.

But...

I still wasted time and money that perhaps I would not have had I been willing to be direct (and mean!) and demand what I was promised along the way. 

What's the point of this story?

I actually debated not sharing this. But I think coaches spend too much time acting as though they are infallible. We're all human and occasionally, even we coaches, fall short of how we want to be. 

It's easy to recognize the need to stand up for ourselves when someone is being a douchebag. 

But, when they're nice, not so much. The truth is, though, she was never nice to me. She just wore a smile as she treated me like a pile of dog shit she stepped in. Nothing is nice about that.  

So, let me ask you, what are you not saying anything about right now? Who might be taking advantage of you with niceness? And are you ready to speak up?

Judy Fine


Judy Fine has been a vocal and performance coach since 2007, specializing in artist development coaching for aspiring singers and confidence coaching for everyone.

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