Nice Girls Don't Speak Up or Stand Out

How to Make Your Voice Heard, Your Point Known, and Your Presence Felt


By Lois P. Frankel, PhD

Formats and Prices




$15.99 CAD


ebook (Digital original)


ebook (Digital original) $11.99 $15.99 CAD

This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around June 16, 2020. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

Discover the “must-listen for every smart, capable woman who wants to succeed”-a guide on how to communicate with maximum impact in the workplace that’s the new book in the New York Times bestselling Nice Girls Don’t series (Anne Fisher,

How many times have you asked yourself why you didn’t speak up in a meeting? Or pushed for the raise you deserved? Or agreed to take on someone else’s task because you didn’t want to rock the boat? Whether the answer is once or ten times or more, the reason is the same: It’s because you’re a nice girl who goes along to get along. But staying quiet and being ignored are not paths to achievement.

Now, in Nice Girls Don’t Speak Up or Stand Out, Dr. Lois Frankel shows you how to be an effective communicator and advocate for yourself. From the basics of speaking up to navigating sticky situations and mastering the art of influencing others, this audiobook provides step-by-step advice using real-life examples and powerful tools such as:

  • Be a broken record
  • Choose powerful word
  • Never say no
  • Enlist advocates
  • And many more — in bonus materials for extra tools in your pocket

Dr. Frankel chose the format of this new audio-first work carefully, with the mission of creating an interactive and impactful listen, interweaved with actionable recommendations, real-life anecdotes, and concrete examples of not only what to say in various scenarios, but how to say it. Nice Girls Don’t Speak Up or Stand Out dives deeply into nearly one hundred everyday challenges women face related to communication.

With Dr. Lois Frankel as your guide, you can learn how to express yourself confidently, courageously, and clearly — and start taking charge of your career.


Chapter One

The Basics

About six years ago, my beloved little four-year-old rescue dog, Ellie, died suddenly on the operating table. We brought her in for what we thought was minor surgery, but she didn’t come home. I was distraught. She was my very first dog and she taught me so much about loving and life. I needed something to distract me from the loss and don’t ask me why, but I took up baking bread of all things. It was something I always wanted to do and it was also something that required following an established set of procedures. I couldn’t just wing it. I had to learn how to do it properly.

Communicating with confidence and courage is a little like baking bread, minus the calories of course. There are basics that have to be learned that will apply across many situations and can be used in conjunction with a variety of more advanced techniques. So as Julie Andrews sang in The Sound of Music, let’s start at the very beginning. It’s a very good place to start.

This first chapter is all about the foundation for strong communication. For example, it’s so much easier to deliver a difficult message if you’ve already built a relationship with the person, and sometimes you have to listen, really listen, before you can persuasively give your opinion. So even though some of what this first chapter contains may seem fundamental to you, it forms the foundation on which all other communication can take place. Master these techniques to start and you’ll be in good shape when the going gets tougher.

Tip 1: Build Rapport

Rapport is defined by Merriam-Webster as a friendly, harmonious relationship, especially a relationship characterized by agreement, mutual understanding, or empathy that makes communication possible or easy. I think rapport is like the WD-40 of relationships. It makes everything glide effortlessly.

Think about it. When someone you like delivers difficult or bad news to you or even tries to influence you to be on their side of an issue, you are so much more likely to respond positively or at least not negatively. On the other hand, if you don’t have rapport with that person or the relationship has been contentious in the past, you’re more likely to be resistant to the message. This is what’s known as the halo effect, or a bias in how we interact with others based on our past associations with them. Rapport doesn’t happen by accident. It usually happens because at least one party in the communication has consciously or unconsciously worked at making it happen.

If this isn’t something you’ve thought of before, then in the beginning you’re going to have to work consciously at developing rapport. Over time and with practice, it will become more natural to you. You may find the model of unconscious competence helpful as you start developing this and the other techniques contained in this book. Here’s a chart to help visualize this concept:

Beginning with the box on the lower left, you have low consciousness and low competence. Let me give you an example here. A few years ago when I wanted to take up golf, I had no idea how to hold the club, how to swing it, how to address the ball, how to get the ball out of the sand trap, and so forth. In other words, I had no consciousness of what I was doing wrong because I had never done it before, so how could I be competent about something that I had no consciousness around? That’s why we call it unconscious incompetence.

Now I want you to picture the lower right-hand box. This is high consciousness but still low competence. At this point, you’re aware of the mistakes you’re making, but you still don’t know what to do about it. Using the golf example, after I’d had a few lessons, I would say to myself, “Oh, I’m supposed to be bending my knees. Oh, I’m supposed to be bringing my club back farther. Oh, I’m supposed to be keeping my eye on the ball.” Okay, now I’m conscious about what I’m incompetent at, and this is what’s called conscious incompetence, but being aware is movement.

So now I want you to move to the upper right-hand box, or high consciousness and high competence. That’s called conscious competence. Now that I’ve had lessons for a year or more and I’m playing golf and I’m doing pretty well at it, I can go out and play a whole game and I can play with other people and not be embarrassed, but I’m always having to think about what I am doing with my club. What am I doing with my body? Am I looking at the ball enough? That’s why this is called conscious competence. I can do it, but I’m always conscious of what I’m doing. You would think that that would be a good thing, but it’s not enough. It means you still have to remind yourself to do something differently, how to do it, when to do it, and so forth. And that takes a lot of energy.

But with practice over time, you eventually move to the upper left-hand box, low consciousness and high competence, and we call that unconscious competence. So now after a number of years when I go out on the golf course, I’m not focusing so much on all these little things that I have to do. They tend to come more naturally and you naturally engage in behaviors as if they were old hat to you. When you’ve practiced them, they become part of what’s known as your cellular memory, so be patient with yourself as you move through the model from unconsciously incompetent to unconsciously competent. As with learning anything new, you begin by not knowing what you don’t know, and through focus, practice, and feedback, you eventually become unconsciously competent.

Let’s go back to rapport. Someone we look to as being really good at building rapport is former U.S. president Bill Clinton. Even people who don’t particularly like him have told me that when they met him, he made them feel as if they were the only person in the room. This is a common theme among those who have interacted with Clinton. When asked how he achieved this, they report behaviors like, he looked me in the eye when he was speaking to me, he really listened to what I was saying, he asked questions about what I said, he circled back to me later and commented on something I said. These things aren’t rocket science, but you’d be surprised how many people find them hard to do or just don’t want to do them.

Following my FEME model of building rapport will put you on the path to establishing warm, mutually beneficial relationships.

One important thing to note—you should be building rapport with everyone you come in contact with. Not only those people you think can do something for you or from whom you may need something. I’m a firm believer in the maxim, “When you need a relationship, it’s too late to build it.” The easiest way to build rapport is to do it early and often. Rapport usually isn’t built through one interaction, but through a series of consistent interactions. In fact, behaving consistently is one of the best things you can do to gain trust. If you have the tendency to want to jump in and fix people’s problems, this isn’t the place for it. In fact, it can be perceived by some as intrusive. With rapport, you simply take the other person’s lead and try to connect it with a similar experience you or someone you know may have had.

Here’s an example of how it sounds to build rapport:

Lois: Pam, I just noticed that picture on your desk of a beautiful baby.

Pam: Oh, that’s my niece Amy. She’s a year old now and I can’t get enough of her.

Lois: When you say that you have the biggest smile on your face.

Pam: Oh, I know. They live up in San Francisco, so I really don’t get to see her as much as I’d like.

Lois: I’ve got a few kids in the family who I feel the same way about. How do you handle the distance?

Pam: Now that she’s getting a little older, my sister actually puts her on FaceTime and we can have a call that way and I make a point of going to San Francisco for long weekends whenever I can.

Lois: Still, it seems like it’s not enough for you. You seem a little wistful.

Pam: No, it’s not, but there’s not much I can do about it.

Lois: I hope as Amy gets older you have more FaceTime calls and visits.

Pam: Me too.

Remember, this is just one of many interactions you will have with Pam. You can build on the conversation in the future by asking about her niece and if she’s been to visit lately.

Tip 2: Talk Back to Self-Talk

Often there’s a little voice inside the heads of nice girls that warns us not to be too direct, too assertive, too demanding, too bossy, needy, greedy… or otherwise people might not like us. It could be that voice developed in you in response to feedback you’ve been given or just observing what’s happened when other women speak up and speak out. As crazy as this may sound at first, you have to talk back to that fearful voice. You have to counter the old messages and replace them with new ones in order to move forward. If your fearful girl’s voice says, “But no one will like me if I say this,” let your woman’s voice respond with, “I can’t control what people think. I can only act with the best of intentions.”

I know I have a message that I use when the nice girl is screaming, “Who are you to think you have the right to say that?” I respond with, “Not only do I have a right, but I also have a responsibility to say this.” I let the phrase repeat in my head as many times as necessary until I build the courage to stand up and say it for myself. Yes, as a recovering nice girl, even I practice what I preach.

So what should your self-talk be? If I asked you what you want to say to that voice, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Come on. I know you can come up with something. What is it you want to say to that voice in your head that tells you that you should just keep quiet? Now say it out loud.

Here are a few more phrases you can use to counter those messages that hold you back from expressing what you’re really thinking or feeling:

• I am an adult with all the privileges that accompany it.

• No one has the right to put me down. No one.

• My voice is just as important as the next person’s.

• I have the right to ask for what I need.

• And my personal favorite is a quote from Quincy Jones: “Not one drop of my self-worth depends on your acceptance of me.”

No matter what your mantra, let it be your place to go when you hesitate to say what’s really on your mind.

Tip 3: Communicate in Headlines

“There’s something I want to talk to you about. It’s about an idea I’ve had for a while now. In fact, I’ve been researching it for about eighteen months. I wanted to make sure I had all the facts before I sat down and talked to you about it. Just the research has been an interesting experience because I was able to look at the best practices that companies similar to ours have been using for ensuring their recruitment efforts are productive and targeted to the growing parts of the market, and this is something that we all have struggled with: attracting and retaining talent in the tech field. We’re always talking about it in staff meetings. Did you know that 90 percent of the graduates at the top of their classes at schools with engineering programs, like MIT, Princeton, Stanford, and UCLA, go to 10 percent of the tech companies in Silicon Valley? Isn’t that pretty amazing?”

Were you as bored reading this as I was writing it? Did you find yourself asking, “What the heck is she talking about and when is she going to get to her point?” Of course! Now, be honest with yourself. Are you the kind of person who uses more words when fewer would be better? Do you find yourself verbally tap dancing to fill in the silence? After you’ve given your opinion or answer to questions, do you sometimes lose your train of thought when explaining complex issues? Then you really need to practice headline communications.

The top box represents your headline. The three smaller boxes each represent a key point or piece of data, and the box on the bottom represents a tagline. Let’s talk about each of the boxes and what you should put in them if you want to deliver clear, cogent, and crisp messages.

First, the top box, as I said, is your headline. It’s what you want someone to remember if you were to be interrupted in the first thirty seconds of your conversation. Too often women use far too many words before they ever get to the point and as a result their messages are diluted. Sometimes people even tune them out altogether before they ever get to the point. I’m sure that’s probably what you did with my cold lead-in to this tip.

Next, the three square boxes just below the headline box are for the points that support your proposal or sometimes even your opinion. Picture the boxes numbered one, two, and three. This is important because it’s a reminder to number the points as you say them. This cues both you and the listener to listen for three points.

Once you’ve made your three points, it’s time to stop and get input. For women, this is in the form of an inclusive tagline. Men can often get away with just stopping, and they tend to be more comfortable with the ensuing silence. Women not so much. So that bottom box is your tagline. The tagline can be a call to action such as, “Do you see any reason why we shouldn’t move forward with this?” Or a call for input: “Do you have any questions or thoughts about what I’m proposing?” Or something even more assertive, such as a statement of your intentions: “You can see I feel strongly about this, so if there are no objections, I’m going to move forward.”

If you’re answering a question, a good tagline is, “Did I answer your question?” or “Do you have any questions about what I just said?” The model works equally well for answering questions on the spot, for giving your opinion, or for making proposals.

One more tip. If someone catches you off guard with a question, don’t be afraid to lead your headline with something like, “I haven’t fully thought this through yet, but off the top of my head, I would say…” then start with your headline model. This way people aren’t expecting a fully cooked response. You could always go back later and revisit the conversation once you have more data.

Let me use the scenario that I started out with to demonstrate how you could put each of these steps together to make that message so much more powerful.


“I’d like to propose that we address our recruiting challenge by implementing a summer internship for students from the top five engineering schools.

“I’m suggesting this for three reasons”:

Supporting Points:

“First, my research shows that 90 percent of those who graduate in the top of their class go to just 10 percent of the tech firms in Silicon Valley, and every one of those firms has a summer internship program.

“Second, our corporate culture with its employee-centric focus appeals to this generation of workers. We just have to expose them to it.

“And third, our business always picks up in the summer. This means we could have meaningful work and opportunities for real learning for interns.”


“You can see I feel strongly about this, so if there are no objections, I’ll go ahead and create a formal proposal for the HR team and present it at our quarterly meeting.”

You can see that the way I just said that using headlines and taglines was so much more powerful than the way that I did at the beginning of this tip. Start thinking and speaking in headlines and watch how your confidence and the confidence that others have in you rises exponentially.

Tip 4: Learn the DESC Script

This nifty little model is perfect for helping you to prepare what you anticipate might be a difficult conversation. I use it myself all the time, and it gives me time to organize my thoughts in what might be a stressful or anxiety-producing situation. What we’re going to focus on are the four letters D-E-S-C, which you can use to create your written or mental script—hence the term DESC script.

The D stands for: Describe the purpose of the conversation. What is it you want to talk about? It should be just one sentence, kind of like a headline. It might be something like, “I’d like to talk to you about something that happened in the meeting yesterday.”

The E has two parts: Explain your position and elicit feedback from the other person. What is it that happened and how did it impact you? How does the other person perceive the scenario?

For example, “I noticed that each time I took to the floor, you started checking your phone for messages. It made me feel as if what I had to say wasn’t important enough for your attention. Do you remember this?”

Now you pause to just listen. No matter what the person says, you aren’t going to argue. You’re simply going to listen and acknowledge that you heard them. The person might get defensive and adamantly say, “No, that’s not true.” Or they might be remorseful and say something like, “Oh, I had no idea you felt that way.” In any case, you’re going to give an indication that you heard them, although you don’t have to agree with them, and then you move toward what you want to see happen in the future.

It would sound like this: “I understand what you’re saying,” or “Thanks for being open to my feelings.” Both of those would be appropriate responses, and that brings us to the S of the script: Specify desired outcomes. Here’s where you specifically say what you would like to see happen. It’s not a demand but rather a request for a change. Using the same scenario, it might be, “I’d like to ask that you listen to my ideas and proposals and provide me with feedback in these meetings. You have a lot of knowledge that I could benefit from and I would appreciate your input.”

Finally, the C refers to clarify consequences, which can be positive or negative. If it’s the first time I’ve spoken with the person about the issue, I’m going to point out the positive consequences of what I’m asking for. For example: “We really have a complementarity of knowledge, and if we can support one another, we both win and so does the department.”

On the other hand, if we’ve had the same conversation before and nothing has changed, I might be a little bit more direct. In that case, my consequence might sound like this: “Given that we’ve had this conversation before and nothing’s changed, I can only assume that you don’t want to collaborate, which will in the long run reduce the overall quality of our collective output.”

No technique of communication can guarantee you’ll get what you want. The use of the DESC script, however, can increase the likelihood of it and enable you to be a powerful advocate for yourself. As I’ve already told you, as a recovering nice girl, I remind myself to use the same tools and techniques described in this book.

In fact, just the other day I used the DESC script with a friend that I needed to speak with about a somewhat delicate matter. Barbara is a woman with whom I’ve been friends for a long time and we sit on a few committees together. Over the past few years, I found myself declining her invitations to get together socially. She could sense it and it was putting a strain on what could be a great friendship for both of us. When I knew that we’d be seeing each other in a casual environment, I used the script that I had practiced to express my feelings.

It went something like this. Now I want you to look at my use of the DESC:

“Barbara, there’s something that I’d like to talk to you about that’s been on my mind for a while. When we’re in meetings or even in conversations, I feel like I never get my entire thought out before I’m interrupted. I know that you’re a fast thinker, but sometimes you jump to conclusions based on hearing only a part of what I’ve said. At other times I just feel like I’m not heard and it makes me not want to talk at all. I’m wondering if you’ve noticed when this happens.”

Now, to her credit, Barbara responded that she had no idea I felt this way and she wished that I had said something sooner, so I continued.

“I really appreciate you taking it in this manner because that’s the manner in which I intended it and in fact I did tell you on other occasions, but you probably just forgot. Be that as it may, what I’d really like is if you would listen more openly to my messages to ensure that you’ve heard my full meaning. If you can do this for me, I think our interactions will be more frequent and fulfilling for us both.”

Even if Barbara only changes her habit and interrupts me 25 percent less, it will ultimately lead to a better relationship, and she invited me to give her a sign when she’s not listening, so that’s progress, too.

Tip 5: Use Contrasting

Have you ever been hesitant to ask for something that you want or need because you’re afraid you’ll come across as too needy or greedy? Maybe someone has done a lot for you, but it’s not quite enough or not quite what you want. You don’t want to seem ungrateful, but at the same time you feel like you deserve something more or different. Contrasting is a technique that you just have to add to your repertoire. It is so simple but it works like a charm. As the name suggests, you are contrasting what you do want and what you don’t want in terms of the person’s perception of your request. It isn’t a stand-alone practice, but rather something that you use in combination with other techniques. For example, you might use it with the DESC script as your lead-in, or you might use it in conjunction with a headline communication.

Let me give you a few examples here of how this looks combined with other techniques. Let’s say you want to ask for a raise from a boss who’s been good to you in many ways, but you’re still underpaid and someone being nice to you doesn’t pay your bills. In this case, you might say, “I don’t want you to think I’m not grateful for all that you’ve done for me because I am. At the same time, I want to discuss the raise I was promised but never received.” Then you would shift to the model for negotiating for a raise that I discuss in a later tip.


On Sale
Jun 16, 2020
Page Count
336 pages

Lois P. Frankel, PhD

About the Author

Lois P. Frankel, Ph.D., is the President of Corporate Coaching International and sought-after for speaker engagements all over the world. She is a recognized expert in the fields of workplace behavior and female empowerment showing that half of the American workforce is made up of women, and they still earn 76.5 cents to every dollar earned by men.

Learn more about this author