Seven Tried & True Suggestions for Success in the Workplace

We may have “come a long way, baby,” but the finish line keeps moving.

Posted Oct 11, 2018

While women battle cultural norms that support their continued subservient roles, they also must battle the inner demons that are fed by culturally sanctioned disrespect. Here are seven suggestions that offer support to women’s commitment to showing up 100 percent in all that they do:

  1. Be confident in your skills and abilities. Confidence is a powerful quality that attracts strong people to one another. Those who are afraid of a confident woman are acknowledging their own lack of confidence in who they are and what they do. Are men ever criticized for being confident?
  2. Speak up and refuse to keep silent when you know what needs to be done and how to do it. Whether it’s speaking up for yourself, your colleagues, your ideas, or what is right – don’t hesitate to state your truth and to state it with conviction. Are men encouraged to keep their silence?
  3. Do not be afraid to own the spotlight – when what you’re doing right receives notice or acclaim, don’t look down or step to the side. There’s no shame in taking credit for your work or being proud of what you’ve accomplished. Are men encouraged to let someone else “take the glory” for their accomplishments?
  4. Let go of the need to be perfect in all that you do – learn to believe that when you do your best, you have done enough. And keep telling yourself that your “best” does not have to be “perfect.” Reshma Saujani noted in TED talk that women are raised to be perfect while we teach our sons to be risk takers and aim for the top. If you spend too much time trying to perfect any one thing, you are missing multiple opportunities to achieve other things or to discover other skills you possess.
  5. Remind yourself that you wouldn’t be where you are if you were the “imposter” you fear yourself to be. The Imposter Syndrome is a pretty common experience, and many women are thought to experience due to the expectation that women grow up to be those “perfect wives and mothers.” When we are expecting perfection from our delightfully imperfect selves, we are absolutely setting ourselves up to fail. Being a leader who is able to acknowledge her strengths while also acknowledging and working to develop her weaknesses is actually about as “perfect” a leader as anyone can ever hope to follow.
  6. Learn to trust yourself and to speak up when you see something that needs to be addressed. It’s interesting how well communicated the idea of “a woman’s intuition” has been throughout time and around the globe. The irony is that while we seem to give a nod to a woman’s capacity to know, we have created a culture in which we make little space for women to speak up and out and share their knowledge. Women are often afraid to speak up for fear of being found wrong; this is related to both the Imposter Syndrome and the impractical struggle for perfection.
  7. Stop getting in your own way -- when you are guided by a mindset that suggests that women are not worthy of the professional success that men have traditionally enjoyed or when you are hesitant to speak up about your own strengths, goals, and accomplishments or speak out against inequality, male colleagues’ missing of the mark, or ways that women’s success is being thwarted, you are playing a part in keeping you and your colleagues from moving forward. Until we believe in ourselves, and are able to quiet the negative self-talk that seems inherent to so many of us through years of exposure to a climate that does not serve women well, we cannot begin to find equal footing in the world. To expect the respect of others, we must learn how to accept the respect of ourselves.

There is something wrong with a world in which cultural norms support silencing and discounting the experiences of half of the population. Decades ago, efforts to dismantle gendered double standards regarding appropriate behavior were put in motion. Tragically, it is apparent that there is still a great amount of work to be done. While many positive developments have occurred regarding women’s access to education and career choices, signaling growing presence and power in some ways, the right that some men feel they have to humiliate, disrespect, and assault women has not diminished even as women’s status has grown in many ways.

References

Miller, C. C., Quealy, K., & Sanger-Katz, J. (April 24, 2018). The Top Jobs where Women are Outnumbered by Men Named John. New York Times. Retrieved from:  https://nyti.ms/2FcgugY

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