A question I often ask women is to rate their level of confidence. To my surprise, most rate themselves pretty high. On a scale of 1-5, the majority rate themselves between a 4-5. That is pretty darn confident.
However, it always baffles me when I ask the same women to tell me what they do well. Most struggle to answer the question.
In my opinion, a good test of a high confidence level, is knowing what you do well. Most confident people understand the importance of using everything you have to compete. Therefore, knowing their strengths is important.
Do you know what you do well? What you do better than anyone else? If you have to think about it, maybe your confidence can use a boost.
When a woman tells me she wants to work on communicating more effectively with her boss, she most likely is referring to her verbal communication. This is the number one mistake professional women make.
The more I work with women; I find that we often neglect the development of our nonverbal communication. Most of us think of communication as just talking.
Study after study has proven that body language is far more effective in communicating the right message than any words that may come out of your mouth. Therefore, using the right body language can make all of the difference in earning the respect and credibility you desire.
To help you earn the respect of your boss, below are 5 steps you can take to communicate the right message:
Always approach your boss as an equal. You must demonstrate that you have earned the right to be a prominent member of the team just like she has. Always be respectful, but think and act like you belong.
Establish good eye contact. Never look up, down or to the side when talking as this conveys uncertainty and mistrust. Practice keeping eye contact without staring by shifting eyes slightly to your boss’s forehead every now and then.
Walk tall and with confidence. When entering your boss’s office, walk all the way in. Linger in the standing position for some time, especially if your boss is seated. This will require him or her to look up at you, putting you in a dominant position and balance out the power.
Keep your hands visible at all times while seated. This is difficult for some women, as we tend to keep our hands on our laps. Use open-handed gestures to emphasize points.
Make sure you keep hands away from your face, mouth and hair. Touching any of these while conversing sends all the wrong messages from nervousness, boredom to weakness.
Try the above, and you should be off to a great start.
Remember, communication is more than just talking and is a skill that can be developed over time. Therefore, practice does make perfect.
Please share your comments and ideas. I’d like to hear from you.
Recently, at a local conference, I ran into two old friends whom I will call Betty and Carolyn. It was great to see them and it didn’t take long for us to update each other on our happenings.
After about 10 minutes of getting caught up, my friend Betty said,
“I better go and network. Business has been slow and I need to find more clients.” She gave both Carolyn and I a hug, reached in her purse for a handful of business cards and marched off.
Carolyn and I said our goodbyes as well and went our separate ways.
Later in the parking lot, I ran into the both of them again. I saw Betty first.
“How did your networking go?” I asked her.
“What a waste of time.” She replied. “I didn’t meet anyone who could help me find more clients. Everyone is looking for jobs and it seems no one wants to spend money these days.” With that, she wished me good luck and left.
Just as Betty left, Carolyn came rushing over to me with another woman following close behind.
“Jocelyn, I am so glad I caught you.” She said almost out of breath. “I’d like to introduce you to Linda. Linda and I met earlier today. She’s looking for diversity professionals to interview for a project. I thought you may be able to assist. I don’t know many people in that line of business. However, I thought you would be a good person to help.”
After exchanging contact information, Linda thanked Carolyn and told her that she was a great help.
Walking to our cars, Carolyn and I talked about how great the conference was and the people we met. As I reached my vehicle, Carolyn said,
” I’m glad I came, I helped several people connect tonight. ”
We wished each other well and said good night.
How many times have you “gone networking” and left disappointed like Betty? If this has happened to you, consider changing your perspective on networking.
All too often, I run into woman like Betty whom look at networking like it’s a job that you set out to do with only one goal in mind; meeting your own needs.
I’m a firm believer that the best way to network, is to build a strategy around helping others. Like Carolyn, helping people meet their needs is the most beneficial way to increase your return on your networking efforts. Master this approach, and you’ll be surprised by how much you’ll get in the end.
I share this story to show how different approaches yeild different results. Pass it on if you think someone else may find it useful.
What do you think? Share your thoughts and experiences.
Jocelyn Giangrand Building Confidence, Unlocking Potential
Once a client of mine was in a tough situation. She was frustrated because her team and boss had failed to embrace her. She felt like an outsider. And when she started to withdraw from them as well, her boss called her out and blamed her for not being a team player.
She was also frustrated because her full potential wasn’t being utilized and her boss started leaving her off important projects. After missing out on developmental opportunities and exposure, it didn’t take long to decide that it was time to leave. She desperately wanted off the team and her negative feelings were starting to show.
Knowing that her reputation was important and she didn’t want to blow it, she came to me for advice. My advice to her, after helping her assess the pros and cons of her situation , was to plan the perfect exit strategy.
The strategic goal: Exit with a bag full of transitional skills, information, and knowledge.
If you are miserable or looking for something new, part of your exit strategy should be to gain as much as you can from your current position before moving on. Learn to love the one you’re with until you find something better. How?… Follow the following 5 steps:
(before implementing these steps, first assess the pros and cons of your situation. If there are more pros than cons, you may want to stick it out and change your perspective).
5 Steps to Implement Before You Leave Your Current Job
Determine where you want to go next.
Outline what skills, experience, knowledge, networks, materials, etc. you will need to be competitive for the next position.
Identify what skills etc., you may be able to obtain from your current position and map out a plan to get them while you are there.
If you plan on starting a business, try to determine what skills you will need to launch that passion and see if you could get them from your current job.
Plan how to maintain a decent relationship with your current boss for a future reference. If you don’t get along, then find out who is the boss’s pet and befriend them.
Start a portfolio and begin making copies of your accomplishments, reports, products, photos, articles, etc.
Planning an exit strategy puts you in the driver’s seat. Now, you are determining what you are going to get out of the partnership.
I find that when women implement this strategy effectively, taking control makes them feel more confident. Knowing they are gaining from their current experience brings a new positive perspective on their current situation; making it easier to go to work.
Some even stay longer than they thought they would, making sure they fill their arsenal before moving on. Others find that once they realize all of the positive things their current position does for them, such as pay the bills, flexibility, great benefits, practical resources, access to information, exposure to networks, etc. they start to appreciate their situation more.
Learning to love the one you’re with, until you move on, could be a strategy to make an unbearable situation, bearable. If you are leaving anyway, you may as well make the most of it. Who knows, you may find out that your situation is better than you thought.
What do you think? Share your thoughts and experiences.
My sister Angela, wrote that quote across her bedroom wall as a teenager. Although that was many years ago, I never forgot it.
As improper as it sounds, to “be who you is”,is a profound statement. Most of us are constantly being told to change and be “who we ain’t”. We are rarely told to “be who we is”, often fighting our natural tendencies.
That statement made such an impact on me, I wrote it in my yearbook as my mantra and advice to the senior high school class. To my surprise, that statement became the mantra for my classmates as well.
My High School Yearbook Photo
Who I Is
Even equipped with my mantra, it still took me years to discover “who I was” in the corporate world. I went through phases of trying to be what I thought I should be, based on what types of behaviors I assumed would get me to the top. One of the styles I sought, was to be “Ms. Tough”.
I used to envy women who didn’t take any mess. They demanded respect and appeared to gain it. These “tough women” went through their careers not really caring about individual feelings. If you wanted to succeed on their team, you either got on board, or got out.
I on the other hand, I enjoyed dealing with people as individuals. Finding out what makes people tick always energized me. I never saw weaknesses in people, but just differences in styles, talents, and approaches. I believed that my role as a leader, was to bring out the best in everyone.
However, my approach was seldom rewarded in corporate. Many leaders tried to coach me into being more like “Ms. Tough”. They encouraged me to be harder on people and address their weaknesses instead of helping them to leverage their strengths. Although this approach was not working for me, I found it difficult to ignore the coaching of my superiors.
Soon, I found myself on a quest to become “Ms Tough.” I read every book on confidence, assertiveness, crucial conversations, etc. My mission was to trim my collaborative approach and adopt a more “stern” edge. I took on that mission with a vengeance.
Then one day it hit me! What about my mantra? “To be who I is”.
“Ms. Tough” is not who I is. Who I is, is someone who has a passion for people and learning to flex my approach to individual styles. This passion is my talent.
My quest to be “Ms. Tough” ended when I decided to stop fighting my natural tendencies and began implementing the mantra I swore to uphold back in high school. Changing me was no longer the focus. Finding the right fit for “who I is”, was.
Maybe changing “you” is not the answer, but finding a place where you can be “you”,..is.
I am a firm believer, that If you find a career that will allow you to “be who you is” you can’t go wrong. Research has proven that when you do what you are both good at and enjoy, you are not only more successful, you are happier. Most of us enjoy our jobs more when we can “be who we is”. If you are happier, you do a better job. Everyone wins.
Finding the right fit for who you are, is an important ingredient to ensure success in business. Often, we find ourselves in situations when who we are, is in direct conflict with where we are.
Whether it is a poor fit in our position, on a team, with a boss, or organization, we are faced with the choice of changing ourselves or changing our situation.
Staying in bad fit- situations too long, can be dangerous to your career. I have seen many women gain bad reputations when this occurs. As you know, once you obtain a bad reputation, it is difficult to restore it.
Today, I am happy to say, I am successful with my new name of “Ms Individualized Approach” . Like a warm and cozy blanket, I wear this name in a place where I can “be who I is” , successfully.
I like being who I is!!
Are you “being who you is”? Share your thoughts.
My sister Angela (L) and I (R) being "who we is" at her high school graduation
Last weekend I subscribed to a marketing software program. Soon after I registered, I received two back -to- back calls from a company representative. Although I did not answer either call, the caller’s messages stated that “Laura”, my personal consultant, was calling to check whether I had questions about the product’s features.
Despite her friendly voice, the calls annoyed me. The first call, caught me off-guard and left me feeling invaded. To call me at home, was too close for comfort and for the life of me, I couldn’t understand why she had not called my mobile? Moments later, the phone rang again. This time it was my mobile.
A second call?! How dare they, I thought. I was pissed!
Many thoughts flew through my head: “The nerve of them calling me twice, “ “Who do they think they are? “ “Don’t they know that people don’t like to be bothered at home?”
Then it occurred to me; I really did need help. Actually, I was struggling trying to get one of the features to work properly. However, I was determined to keep working at it until I figured it out.
Then an epiphany… What if I let Laura help me? Her assistance could save me many hours of potential grief and wasted time . I reached out and called her.
When was the last time you asked for help?
I asked myself that same question and I couldn’t remember. Here, I had spent numerous hours working on that software. Not once, did I think of asking for help.
Poor Laura, trying to do her job, had to call me on two phones to try to help.
Why we don’t ask ?
Women of color are usually the last group to ask for it. Many times we think we should solve our own problems. Coming from families where independence and self- reliance is valued, most of us have been taught to be responsible for ourselves.
We see help as a weakness.
This practice is dangerous in the corporate world. Knowing how to ask is a key attribute of a leader. A leader knows when they should seek help and how to get it. Like many sisters, my refusal to ask Laura for help was because I knew eventually, I was capable of solving the problem myself. However, did it makes sense for me to waste time working on that problem? Or would my time have been better spent doing something more valuable?
When we don’t ask for help, we risk working in a vacuum, wasting valuable time on non-strategic projects and increasing our chances of making mistakes. We may also make the error of working harder not smarter.
Asking for help is a strength.
If you do it properly, it takes the form of delegation, collaboration, development and most of all, being strategic.
Do you need help?
Could you use assistance? Is there a “Laura” out there that may be able to help you so that you may use your precious time and energy more wisely?
Think about it, reach out and make the call.
Do you have trouble asking for help? Share your stories and we can help each other.
Decisions involving jobs, promotions, demotions, salaries, perks, etc. are made based on names. So what names are people calling you?
Are you called a people-person or a “B” on wheels, a friend or backstabber, a pushover or powerful, innovative or stuck in your ways, frumpy or professional. If you don’t know, you could be in for a rude awakening.
Years ago I learned that I had been named “too nice”. I was appalled as I always saw my “niceness” (strong interpersonal skills is what I called it) as an asset that set me apart from others. Little did I know, this name would hurt my career.
Although I was “well- liked, “talented and smart”, based on a “name”, higher-ups were afraid to put me in situations where they thought I may get eaten alive. Therefore, I was not selected for specific promotional opportunities. No matter how talented you are, it is the names that determine how far you will go.
Why is it important for women of color to know what names we’re called?
I hate to admit it, but I believe names hurt us more than others. Names seem to stick to us like glue. Maybe it’s because we are in the minority and with fewer numbers, our mistakes or mishaps are never forgotten. Our professional reputations are extremely fragile and we have to handle them as such.
So, how do you find out what names you are called? Simple…You ask.
One day, that ‘s exactly what I did. During a routine supervision meeting with my boss at the time, instead of the usually babble, I decided to asked her frankly why I had hit a career road block. I did, and she told me straight; everyone liked me, but I was “too nice” for certain positions that may require you to check a bully. Just like that I had the answer. All the time, I thought it was because I didn’t have the right experience, or credentials. I never thought it had to do with being “too nice”.
How I became Ms. “Too Nice”?
To my surprise, it came from a single incident, when a “B” on wheels (excuse my French name for her) challenged me during a presentation. I was so caught off -guard by her rude approach, that I allowed myself to get off -track . After the meeting, I forgave myself for the stumble and thought that my track record would protect me. That’s where I went wrong.
Big Lesson #1 Reputations are fragile
You can spend years building a strong reputation and it can be shattered by one incident. You and your actions are under constant scrutiny. People are making judgments about you with every encounter and forming new opinions everyday. People talk and spread names throughout organizations. Therefore, you have realize that it is “show time” everyday and you must come ready to win.
Now, everyone makes mistakes. However, never let one go without putting forth effort to recover your reputation. If I had not been so self-absorbed after my mishap, I would have realized that I was being judged on how I handled the situation. I did not come prepared for the unexpected.
Big Lesson #2Be open to feedback and accept what you hear.
It is not easy to hear negative things about yourself. But if you never hear the bad things, you can’t fix them. So when you ask for feedback, stress that you want honest feedback. And take it like a women. Although appalled, knowing “my name”, empowered me to save my reputation. And that’s what I set out to do. How did I do it? Continue on. My then boss, did me a big favor. She gave me good, honest , feedback that I could use.
It is critical to see yourself as others see you. That means that you have go outside yourself and judge your actions as someone who does not know you. Make an honest opinion.
Every sister needs to know her “names” if your want to build a solid reputation. You may not feel comfortable approaching your boss, so consider peers, mentors and friends as information sources. Sometimes your saboteurs can be a great wealth of information. Most will find joy in telling you what names you have.
How do you earn names that will build a successful reputation? Comeback and let’s chat.
Do you know what names you are called? Please share your comments, stories and questions. Let’s help each other.
Jocelyn Giangrande is the founder & president of SASHE, LLC