Whether it comes from years of getting picked first in dodge ball, or being voted best smile and class flirt all four years in a row, there are some things pretty people have that the rest of us…well, struggle with. After years of working in positions of all kinds, from your nighttime bartender to your full time project engineer, there is something I've learned about getting ahead. Pretty people do it better. So in an effort to steal some of their power, here are my top 7 observations on the perks of being a pretty person. And…drum roll please…you don't actually have to be pretty to pull any of them off! All you need is a little blind confidence and a solid place to stand.
1.Pretty People say NO
There is a time and a place to say yes. Most of those times are during normal business hours or in extreme circumstances. Constantly being the yes girl, might feel like a good choice in the beginning, but if you're the only one in the office crunching out numbers on a Saturday morning, no one is going to know on Monday who did the work. They're just going to know that it got done, and whoever asked you to do it in the first place is going to know that you'll say yes again…and again…and again. Meanwhile the pretty people are out of the office getting the break they need to come in on Monday morning refreshed and ready to be productive when everyone is around to take note.
Doing your fair share, and pulling your weight, after hours or with annoying tasks is totally necessary. But if you've had two months of Saturdays alone in the office you need to re-evaluate the difference between pulling your weight and being taken advantage of.
2. Pretty People Speak Up
Pretty people ask for what they want. No matter how ridiculous it seems, they go for it anyway. I once spent 5 long months busting my ass for a promotion that ended up going to a very pretty girl who worked half as hard as I did. Eventually, fed up enough with the decision, I confronted my Boss about it. His response? "You didn't ask for it."
I was dumbfounded. Of course I didn't ask for it! Who thinks they can just ask for a promotion and get it? Apparently pretty people, that's who. I've always been taught that if you want something, you put your nose to the grindstone and you work really, really hard for it. So hard, that people can't help but notice. Well turns out that's only half true. You have to work really, really hard, AND be vocal.
Being vocal about the things you need or want at work not only keeps the communication lines open between you and your boss, but it also lets him know that you're in it for the long run. It tells him that you're hoping to get out of your current company the things you need to make you happy long-term. And the more you ask, the more attention you draw to the fact that you think you deserve it. This in turn will make him more likely to think of you for promotions and big exposure projects in the future. Once you get the ball rolling, it's much harder to stop. And the only push it may need is to simply to ask.
3. If Pretty People Don’t Like Something They Make It Stop
Your mindset at work is one of the most important things to your success. If someone or something around you happens on a daily basis and distracts you from the moment you walk in the door, you're going to have an unproductive and less successful day than your counter parts. Making sure your office environment is set for success is something high on the priority list of pretty people.
I once worked with an office janitor who insisted on giving me hugs every time I walked in the door. EVERYTIME! I tried a few times to avoid him. Walk through a different door, took a different route to the coffee pots, used the bathrooms on the other side of the office, but no matter what, I always seemed to run into him before 10:00am and get his creepy, lingering too long, "It's so nice to see you, hug." And it pissed me off every day.
The thing was, he wasn't just hugging me, he was pointing out my need to be nice. My need to be liked. My need to let this happen so that I didn't come off looking like a bitch. But eventually, the hugs to say hello turned into hugs to change the trash, hugs to get a new box of tissues, hugs for this and hugs for that. Before I knew it, I was stuck in a creepy cul-de-sac of hugs and I couldn't find my way out.
One day, when I was walking three departments out of my way to really, really avoid this guy, I noticed another woman in our office say rather sternly, "I don't give hugs."
I peaked my head around the corner so fast one might have thought I was having a seizure. And there they were. Creepy Guy and Pretty Girl having a staring contest.
"Well I don't have to change your trash then."
"That's fine," she said, breaking her eye contact with him and turning back towards her desk. "I'll get Linda, to change my trash." Linda was the Project Manager and not someone who would be changing the trash, ever.
"Linda will never change the trash," Creepy Guy said back.
"No, probably not. But she'll find someone who will." With that she got up from her desk, like the bad ass she was, and walked away.
Being afraid to stand up for yourself, or tell the appropriate person that something is making your day awful will only hurt YOU and YOUR productivity. My co-worker's day was not ruined by something she was afraid to make stop. She wasn't losing productivity by walking three departments out of her way to avoid something that made her uncomfortable. She wasn't sitting at her desk "cooling off" for ten minutes each time she came in contact with this dude because he left her seeing red. She was being productive- all day, every day- like a boss.
4. Pretty People Compliment Themselves
I once worked with a girl named Laura. Laura was not the sharpest tool in the shed, but she was strikingly beautiful. Her favorite thing to say was, "I'm not a stupid girl. I mean, I'm really smart." Despite the fact that she seemed to be incapable of completing any task without it having to be redone by someone else, everyone believed her.
She would make one mistake after another, and yet still, the general consensus was, Laura, she's really smart. Bosses would make excuses for her when she would mess up, "She must be feeling sick," "She's just having an off day," "Someone must have done that before she got to work."
No, Laura is just really good at making mistakes.
But her repetitive, vocal confidence in her own intelligence, resonated in all our heads and the first thing you'd think of when you thought of Laura is, "Laura, she's really smart." Having that kind of confidence in yourself is important in all aspects of your work.
Whether you're mixing a cocktail at the local pub or solving an intense volumetric equation, your ability to believe you can do it better than the average person, plays a significant, subconscious role in how you actually perform. So be your biggest cheerleader. Internally, externally, until you, the entire office, and even the Beyoncé song on the radio believes in you.
5. Pretty People Don’t Fear Conflict
I don't know how many times I've sat in a company meeting, gotten assigned a task I was excited to work on, and then immediately had it taken away from me by my own timidness. Pretty people are not timid. Pretty people jump when they have a chance, and don't fear having to put up a fight for what they want.
"Julie, can you start the estimate on sublevels 201 through 217 and have it on my desk by tomorrow at noon?" My Boss directed.
"Sure thing." I quickly responded, excited to finally have an important role.
"Well actually, Boss," the pretty guy in the corner would start, "I've already begun working on some base level insulation estimates. If you want, I can just go ahead and do the whole thing?"
"Alright, Jack, sounds good."
And just like that…I lose my chance. Being the type to sit quietly and wait for your chance, knowing that when you get it, you'll do it better than anyone else, is as effective paddling a canoe really hard, but from only one side. Don't Do It! Fight for your chance! Don't fear conflict so much that you set yourself back. Stand up for what you deserve and make sure you get it. Try the same conversation again, but this time interjecting without fear.
"Julie, can you start the estimate on sublevels 201 through 217 and have it on my desk by tomorrow at noon?"
"Well actually, Boss, I've already started working on some base level insulation estimates if you want, I can just go ahead and do the whole thing?"
"Thanks, Jack." I'd say this time around, "I can use your estimates as a starting point and then finishing by noon should be no problem."
"I like it, work together, Julie, get it to me by noon."
With just one sentence you've backed up your boss' decision to choose you in the first place, and you've take on the leadership role of now compiling and delivering the estimate. Plus, with Jack's help, you may have extra time to get additional tasks done, positive on top of positives.
6. Pretty People Take What They Want
Pretty people treat the world as their oyster. They watch things around them, evaluate a process, see a way to squeeze themselves in, and they go for it.
As a bartender I had the unfortunate task of making milkshakes at the restaurant I worked in. Sometimes if we were feeling nice, we'd pour any extra milkshake into a small cup and give it to one of the servers or use it as a bribe to get them to do something nice for us like re-stock our olives or bring us extra plates from the kitchen. The servers knew this and would get excited at the sight of a little cup.
"Can I have this?" they'd usually ask. To which I'd say yes, or, politely tell them no, that's actually for Doug, since he took my dishes back to the kitchen. This very thing had happened one day when the pretty girl I worked with came up to the service station picked up the extra milkshake and just started drinking it.
"That's not for you," I told her right as Doug walked up. She shook her shoulders and continued slurping on the treat that was not for her. "It's for Doug," I said louder so that she'd have to respond. She shook her shoulders again, turned to look at Doug, gave him a smile and a giggle.
"Go ahead, you can have it," he said to her. And the pretty girl got the milkshake. Just like that. My advice to you⎯be the pretty girl, take the milkshake. TAKE the promotion, TAKE the seat next to the boss when you're the first in the meeting, TAKE the private meeting with the new client that's up for grabs even if you're lowest on the totem pole. Have the confidence in yourself to fill in the blanks later and take what you can reach now.
7. Pretty People Are Unapologetic
Sometimes I feel like the world rests on my shoulders and if I do one thing wrong it's all going to fall apart. Sure there are 10 other people working at the restaurant with me, but if we get one bad yelp review, it's entirely my fault. "I'm so sorry." "I really will do it better next time." "I'm really sorry."
I pick up my mistakes and carry them around with me like the crazy bag lady sitting on the corner of 5th Ave. Ready and waiting to apologize as soon as anyone even hints at the possibility of a problem. Each time I am asked to do something new, or something that I am unsure of, I check how many bags I have collected and I assess myself in the most negative way. How can I be so stupid? I am not cut out for this, I'm not good enough⎯STOP. Pretty people don't do that. They make a mistake, and they move forward.
The idea that we must be mistake free and on point all the time, is a level of perfection we cannot reach. So give yourself some slack every once and a while and drop a few of those bags. Instead of saying, "I'm so sorry," all the time, start saying, "How can I learn from this for next time?" Hold yourself accountable, but don't let it weigh you down. The more others watch you treat yourself like you're not worth it, the more they will think they can treat you like you're not worth it. And that, simply, is not true.
Now, go, get back to work! We all know you're reading this while on a "break."
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