Sure-Fire Ways to be Taken Seriously at Work
Be self-confident with your colleagues
Yes, it’s 2016, but gender inequality still exists in the workplace, as too many women already know. Women have to strive harder than men in order to be taken seriously. Yes, it’s ridiculous, but it’s how the corporate world still operates in many sectors.
No matter how smart and skilled you are at your job, there are certain behaviors that will help you be taken more seriously, particularly if you are just starting out in your career. Face it. It’s tougher for a woman in her 20’s to be taken seriously than a woman in her 40’s.
LadyLUX talked to career and life coaches to get the best advice on what to do if you want to make sure you’re taken seriously at work.
Stand in your own power
It is harder for women to be taken seriously in a lot of settings than it is for men. Despite this lopsided social dynamic, women can still expect to be taken seriously if they follow a few guidelines, said RB Fast, president and CEO of Beeline Consulting.
Here are Fast’s top three tips:
- Be well-versed in the topic at hand. Read the books and news coverage of the subject and understand the jargon and terminology applicable to the situation. Be ready to speak on the concept from a variety of angles.
- Get comfortable asking questions about what you don't understand. This not only helps you learn, but it shows that you are humble (which is actually really powerful) and it gives others the chance to shine by sharing their knowledge.
- Dress like a boss. This depends on the situation, but dressing appropriately for the situation helps to command respect. While I wish it weren't true, women in particular are subject to scrutiny when it comes to how we dress. If you don't look like a person worthy of respect, it will be really hard to earn it in a professional setting.
Shaun Eli Breidbart, a comedian and executive director of The Ivy League of Comedy, is a graduate of The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and he’s savvy as to how women can be taken seriously in any industry:
- First, use your last name, not just your first name. If you answer the phone "This is Jenny" you don't sound like a manager. If you answer "Jen Robinson" you sound more like someone in a position of authority, not someone's assistant.
- Second, don't make statements that sound like questions. If you raise your voice at the end of a sentence you sound uncertain. You want to make statements, not queries, when you're not actually asking a question.
- Third, don't treat the office like your living room. I know your lunch hour belongs to you but don’t make personal calls or read celebrity websites at your desk at lunch. Keep your personal life and hobbies separate from the office.
- Fourth, men interrupt women a lot. Stop them from doing that. When they start talking, keep talking. And if they don't shut up, tell them to stop interrupting. It will take a while but eventually you'll get the point across that your ideas are important too and they need to shut up and listen.
Don’t feel the need to always apologize
“Women do have issues with being taken less seriously than men do. From my work with clients, as well as personal experiences, there are a few things that definitely help with being taken more seriously,” said Gabrielle Loehr, behavioral health coach and president of Loehr Consulting.
“Women are often apologetic or minimizing of themselves and what they say in conversation. I used to be that way too, but after I went to therapy and became more confident, I stopped doing it. Then I started noticing how annoying it was and how insecure it makes you look,” Loehr said. “Don't apologize for being good at things or for things you have no reason to be sorry for. It makes your apologies seem worthless because you apologize all the time for everything, so the likelihood that any of them are sincere is dubious. You don't have to feel confident all the time. Most men aren't confident all the time either, but learning how to project an air of competence is crucial to being taken seriously.”
Also, avoid gossip. “Women also undermine themselves by gossiping. The mostly- or all-female work environments I've been in have easily been the nastiest. Learning how to use objective, professional communication consistently goes a long way. This might mean you need to learn better ways to communicate, and that's okay. When you learn to be direct and focused, things start to get better. If you have to gossip, do it about celebrities, not people you know.”