Do you think you should let that male coworker take the last donut? No. Absolutely not. Don't let him have it right away, anyhow. Grab that donut and rub it all over your titties — you're establishing your territory. Give it back to your male coworker, then thump your chest like a gorilla and maybe flick him off.
Okay, maybe you don't have to do exactly that. But no matter what, don't be that nice girl that shares all her jelly beans and is left with none for herself.
I was once a really nice girl. In fact, I was that stereotypical, quiet, innocent Asian girl that was too nice to speak up in class because she — I — didn't want to cause any disturbance. I just wanted to be nice. I wanted to be liked. But I was so nice, trying so hard to not be a nuisance, that I was actually too "nice" to get anyone to be my friend. I apologized all the time because I felt I was always in the way; it was like I was apologizing for my own existence. I said "sorry" when someone got in my way. Even after the few times I stood up for myself, or spoke out against something, I'd apologize.
Where did this passive, shrinking violet routine get me in life? I landed in the intersection of fuck-off and fuck-you with no friends and no respect. I always did the extra work in group projects; I was too nice to speak up for my extra effort and demand extra credit — no, no, all that wonderful work I did was a group effort, I'd insist. (By the way Mrs. Williams, that 11th grade group Shakespeare project WAS ALL ME, I DID THAT, I READ EVERYTHING.)
Obviously, eventually, something changed: I found my voice and my fire. I think the daily, gradual frustrations wore on me and, simply put, I got mad. I was tired of being a bland, nice, noodle. It’s not like I just flipped one day and all of a sudden I got my lip pierced and shaved half of my head (I did that over several years), but it was almost as if I woke up one day without the suffocating weight of niceness.
And to be clear, when I'm talking about being nice, I mean niceness in that god-forbid-you-upset-someone way, wherein you're stifling your opinions just to keep the boat from rocking. This sort of "nice" means not seizing something that you deserve because you would rather be pleasant than be right. It means apologizing for who you are because you would rather be nice than you. It means being timid, being quiet and inoffensive and unobtrusive.
Niceness and manners are not mutually exclusive. You can cut the nice girl routine and still be a helpful, decent person. Being "not nice" doesn't mean being proactively mean; it's not like I'm going to shove a door on someone's face and force them to listen to Ke$ha on the subway because I want to "be a bitch." (Also, that's just cruel.) When I learned to be a bitch, it didn't mean I started being a provocative jerk, screaming at strangers and publicly flicking my bean just to remind the world that I did all the work in group projects as a student and I'm pissed off.
"Bitch" has, historically speaking, been an insult hurled towards aggressive woman. But when the occasion merits it, what's so wrong with that? Being a bitch can be a very good thing.
Being "nice," however, can be pretty shitty. Studies — and plenty of real life anecdotes (If you're anything like me, I'm sure you have a few) — have found that being "agreeable" in the work place can stifle your chances of moving up. Women who were "disagreeable" made 5% more than those "agreeable" people, and the DUDES, oh man, you should really be "disagreeable" because there's a high chance that you'll make 18% more than your "agreeable" counterparts.
Niceness can make you an easy target as a garbage disposal for crap work that no one else wants to do. Oh, that stack of papers that needs to be filed? Throw it to that nice gal, she'll eat it up and shit out organized stacks of documents. Niceness is a huge reason why unpaid interns tend to be women (too nice to ask for more responsibilities, more compensation, more recognition).