Despite considerable gains in the last few decades toward greater equality in the workplace in terms of pay and opportunities, women still lag behind men at the top levels of organizations. For example, according to the Center for American Progress, even though women make up 44% of the overall S&P 500 workforce and 36% of first- or mid-level officials and managers in S&P companies, they make up only 25% of executive- and senior-level managers and hold just 20% of board seats and 6% of CEO positions.
Many observers argue that confidence can be a part of the problem, but confidence can be a double-edged sword for women. Come across as too confident, and data show women will often be less liked. Show too little confidence, and it’s hard to stand out and impress.
In an article for the Money section of U.S. News, Robin Madell looks at some basic tips to help women avoid some common confidence pitfalls.
Remove Qualifiers from Your Speech
When people add qualifiers to their speech, it certainly doesn’t make them seem confident. Saying “I’m not positive, but … ” or “I’ll have to double-check, but … ” conveys a sense of uncertainty.
Be aware of the language you’re using, and take steps to avoid such statements. Replacing them with direct, positive statements can convey confidence.
Own and Defend Your Point of View
When you take a position, make sure you are ready to defend it. Anticipate the types of challenges and questions you might face, and be ready to respond, not just with your opinion but with whatever relevant facts and data that can be used to strengthen and support your point or position.
Stop Waiting for the Perfect Moment
Innovative ideas drive business success and competitiveness. But innovative ideas often languish when staff are hesitant about sharing their ideas.
Waiting for the “perfect time” to share an idea or worrying that you don’t have enough information to support an idea not only impacts how you may be perceived but also serves to reduce or eliminate important opportunities for your department, division, or company. There is rarely a perfect time or perfect moment to make a point.
Articulate Your Differentiators
Many women—indeed, many employees in general—are too shy when it comes to promoting themselves and their skills. Don’t be afraid to toot your own horn when praise is deserved. After all, even the most engaged managers aren’t likely to make note of every contribution an employee makes. You need to tell them!
Confidence is key in succeeding in any environment, and the business world is a prime example. Don’t let a lack of confidence hold you back. Follow the advice here to help you convey a more confident attitude in the workplace. Your career will benefit from it!