The working lady's guide to being confident
7/12/2011 7:14:30 PM -
Not all women are alike, but some of us aren't the best at asserting ourselves at work. We don't say no, we don't ask for raises and we smile, even if we're cracking a little inside. Learn to get what you need -- and deserve -- from your job.
JoAnn Corley, speaker, career and management coach, and co-author of Ordinary Women, Extraordinary Success and Wisdom at Work, helps explain why and gives the working girl tips to help make her career more successful.
Why we're not so great at asserting ourselves at work
The fact is, many women are less likely than men to assert themselves at work. Corley explains that there are two reasons for this.
First, social conditioning makes women less likely to assert themselves at work. "We are conditioned at an early age to be more accommodating and compliant," Corley says.
Women are more relational and men are more transactional." Women hear more messages about not hurting other's feelings, getting along and not rocking the boat. We are taught to be sensitive, to socialize and to get along.
Second, Corley says that many women have personality types that make it difficult for them to assert themselves. "Two of the four personality types do not have a bias for action," explains Corley. "For example, people who have a need to connect have the hardest time saying no at work. The very word 'no' disconnects."
To be assertive in any situation, you sometimes have to disconnect from the group -- and put yourself first. "For many women, we are conditioned not to do that -- to feel bad or guilty about it -- and it's a huge emotional discomfort," concludes Corley.
Learning to assert yourself at work
Women can take a few steps to learn how to assert themselves at work.
* Discover the reason. Try to determine why you're not asserting yourself at work. If you know the reason, you can work to change it. If you have no idea, you're less likely to make a change.
* Consider the consequences. "You can't give out of an empty wagon," says Corley. This means that if you're not asserting yourself and getting what you need at work, you're eventually going to hit a point where you're unable to give anyone what they need.
ow to assert yourself at work
A few key areas exist where women need to really assert themselves. Consider the following:
1.Asking for a raise
Corley points out how women will assert themselves to get a job, but once they have it, they stop. "If you start a job in your early 20s [and remain until you're 30] and don't assert yourself for raises, you've undermined your salary earning potential over the long run," explains Corley.
It makes sense -- your subsequent employers will review your past salary history when making an offer. If you've made no efforts to increase your salary over the years, new employers will offer less money. So what do you do? Corley offers the following advice.
* Understand what's holding you back. Analyze your perception of yourself, how other people perceive you and how you relate to your colleagues.
* Decide what is most important to you.. People make decisions based on value.
* Cultivate healthy boundaries. "A boundary means, ultimately, I'm in this job to be employed and this is a business. I'm here to help this business make money. That's the purpose of employment," explains Corley. Women often turn co-workers into their second family and close friends. "Then, when it comes to making business decisions, i.e., earnings and promotions, those take a back seat," Corley notes. "A boundary is: 'I'm drawing the line -- these are my friends, but the bottom line is this is still a business. I need to be productive, I need to make money. I'm building a career.' "
Use the following tips to learn how to say no.
* Value yourself. "People treat you based on how you value yourself," says Corley. "So saying 'no' is actually creating a boundary. We train people how to treat us." When you're leaning to say no, you want to be able to have a mindset: If I don't stand up for me, who will? If I don't value myself, who will? People treat you based on how you value yourself. 'We train people how to treat us. If we don't like the way we're being treated, we have to ask ourselves what are we allowing and why?" says Corley.
* Be accountable. Corley also suggests finding a colleague who will hold you accountable. Ask someone you trust to keep you in check.
* Don't take it personally. "Men tend to get further ahead because they understand that work is for business," says Corley. The female brain is generally different, so understand your personality type, be clear about what you want and then take the personal component out of it. Just say no!