People often say to me “Oh you’re so sweet!” and whereas this should be a compliment, I’m always weary people will see this as a weakness and take advantage of my niceness. Take the other week for example.
When returning home from the last day of a Princes Trust Business course, feeling up-beat that I’d completed something for a change (though it was only a 4 day intensive course), I bumped into a man who was friendly enough to pay me a compliment. We exchanged small-talk then he asked if I’d like to go for a drink at Soho Hotel. “Well sure, why not?” I responded.
He turned out to be an interesting man, and more importantly – a potential contact! He owns a food supply business to restaurants in Soho for over 30 years, and he was in the area trying to get some money owed to him from various business (obviously comfortable enough with me to add the latter part). He answered all my growling questions as though being interviewed by a journalist (which isn’t far from what it was!) As we sipped our cocktails (I had an apple martini, him olive martini), he then indicated he’d like something more than where our conversation about the food business was going. I took offence however didn’t show it. I let him now exactly where I stood, or rather sat – it’s just a drink and nothing more. My “I’m nice but don’t try to take the p***!” attitude was up in no time. And we left the Soho Hotel going separate ways. No exchange of business cards, and certainly no chance of doing lunch which is his loss.
I’m sure I’ve lost lots of potential contacts this way – putting a guard up, however the other side is that my “sweetness” attracts the wrong sort of people, or they’dtake my sweetness for weakness or interpret it into something sexual (ugh – men, why?!) … It’s all about getting the right balance I guess.
He (I actually can’t remember his name, not that I would have shared it) gave me a whole red chilli which he took out of the breast pocket of his suite, and handed it to me. “It wards off evil” he said. We didn’t exchange cards but this action was probably worth more. The chilli hangs in my kitchen… Sweet!