I was on the phone for over an hour with my work mentee today. She was lamenting the layoffs that have happened at our company, saying that she felt like she tried so hard to be nice and kind to everyone, but in the end, it didn’t matter because she was still disliked. She still got laid off. She mentioned to me this one person at work who is a manager on the team. She clearly got there because of politicking internally, constantly advocating for herself and talking herself up every chance she got, even when she wasn’t actually the one who achieved anything. People like that in our work world get ahead. The general theme that has rang quite loud and true for me since the beginning of my career is that activity is valued more than genuine achievement. Activity is what will prevent your getting laid off, not the achievement. Because when it comes to “achievement,” even when there is hard data, real numbers, to back it up, even when you have killed your retention rates, expanded your customers by hundreds of thousands of dollars, company leadership who is against you will do whatever they can, smear you however they can, to get your job eliminated. It’s the dirty capitalistic society we live in.
I tried to console my mentee. I told her I really empathized with her, but at the end of the day, she needs to get over the desire to “be nice to everyone.” That will never get her ahead. It will never get her recognized. If anything, people would use that against her to manipulate her, take credit for her work, ignore her, gaslight her, and do anything they can to undermine her. Hasn’t that already happened here to her? This needs to be a lesson to her. “Nice girls finish last.” There’s a fine line between maintaining one’s integrity and playing the game. I still haven’t mastered it at all, but one thing I never strayed from while working at this current company is maintaining my integrity. I’ve stayed true to myself no matter what, and perhaps at times, that has costed me, but I have zero regrets. She shouldn’t have regrets either, but she needs to wean herself off the “be nice to everyone” mentality and put herself and her values first. That is such a female way of thinking that we women are taught; what BOY is ever taught to be nice to everyone and to value that above everything else…?!