Tips for Women: How to Be Taken Seriously
In an ideal world, everyone would be treated fairly in the workplace. Unfortunately, certain professions and fields are dominated by certain characteristics, leaving little room for others to grow or feel comfortable. This is very common for women in the corporate work environment.
Though things have come a long way, women still struggle to "climb the corporate ladder." Plenty of studies have been done to address these biases and issues, yet they still persist. Here's why it's important to learn about the little ways you can be taken seriously if you are a woman in the workplace.
Keep in mind that gender discrimination does go both ways, but it is no secret that women have a hard time being taken seriously in male-dominated work environments, especially if these environments don't hire progressive employees.
Does How I Speak or Talk Matter?
How you communicate and whether you do so effectively does matter when it comes to being taken seriously. You should come across as smart and confident or strong and inspiring (depending on your field, this will vary). There are certain rules you can follow so that when people hear you talking, they want to stay engaged.
How to Communicate Effectively
Here are some important tips to follow to be a good communicator:
- Don't let your nerves show: It's easy to talk fast when nervous, but slow it down. Imagine as though you are speaking to a friend. If you naturally talk fast, slow it down and try lowering your vocal tone. Rambling too much or talking too much will make people stop listening, so keep it short, sweet, and friendly, and deliver on your main points.
- Make your point: After you get to your main point, follow up with a few strong backup statements to drive your main point home.
- Don't use "sorry" or apologize: Save "sorry" for the big mistakes and remove "sorry" from your vocabulary. Many women use this far too casually.
- Don't ask permission: Don't ask permission to do things that other people never ask permission to do. It may come across that you are timid or submissive.
- Don't put yourself down: Don't downplay your achievements or accomplishments or make fun of yourself unfairly for mistakes. There's no need to put yourself down. Be proud of where you are at and what you offer. Make others believe it, too.
- Avoid using qualifiers: Speak in statements and don't use words like "maybe." While there are some qualifiers of certainty, like "I guess," "I think," "I know," and "I am absolutely certain," try making statements instead. It makes you sound more confident and sure of yourself. So instead of saying, "I think it would be great if you helped out with this project," say, "It would be great if you helped out with this project."
- Work with your shyness: If you are shy, start by saying one or two things in a meeting each week. Make your presence known in whatever way that makes you feel comfortable. Start small and build your way up.
Be Authentic and Believe in Yourself
No matter what, stay true to yourself. Don't change too much to try to be accepted. If you really are up against a wall despite your qualifications, you might want to look for a work environment, field, or job that celebrates your achievements and accomplishments. You may want to stick it out and fight for other women in the field, and you can do this too.
When it comes to being respected, it takes having a strong backbone. You will need to be able to face all kinds of things, like people wanting to bring you down, point out your mistakes, or make you pack up and leave. Don't fall for jealousy or sabotage. Always keep your head high and be proud of the work that you do. Your hard work will pay off, even if the road is rough. Continue to keep high integrity and values, be honest, and always be fair. The right employer will notice and give you a chance based on your qualities. You've got this!
Avoid Certain Words and Expressions Such as "Like" and "Um"
You will want to avoid certain words in the workplace because they can downplay your credibility. You don't have to be "one of the guys" to be taken seriously by men in your field, but you can tone down areas of your language that don't serve you. Saying words like "like" and "um" express uncertainty in your statements, so think about pausing instead or cutting out their frequency. You will also want to stay away from swearing. Swearing often isn't necessary, especially if you are in a leadership role. While swearing is okay with friends, swearing in a professional environment doesn't make you look good. Save it for off-the-clock time.
Does How You Dress in the Workplace Matter?
Though looks shouldn't matter and qualities should, there are certain ways you can use your body language, posture, and fashion to be taken seriously by male colleagues. In an ideal world, women would do as women want to do without consequence, but it's very true that certain clothing and behaviors can make male and female colleagues take you less seriously. Here's what to do and what not to do:
How to Look Confident and Competent
- Have good posture and look confident: Keep an open, friendly posture. Don't sit with your arms crossed or your back hunched - this makes you less approachable. Keep your back straight and take up as much space as possible while focusing on looking friendly. This will help you to look confident.
- Cut your bad habits: Ditch your bad habits—when you get nervous, don't bite your nails, play with your hair, or twiddle your necklace. Tapping your foot, too, gives away that you're nervous. Keep it cool.
- Don't tilt your head when speaking: Don't tilt your head while speaking. This type of behavior is unfortunately seen as submissive.
- Sit comfortably: If you have to sit on the floor, don't sit on your foot. Instead, take up as much space as possible without looking funny doing so. Rather than crossing your legs, try something else. If you are wearing pants and not wearing a skirt, sit with your legs open. Just don't do the splits.
- Keep eye contact: Eye contact is key to being taken seriously. Never look down when you are talking to people. Always keep a strong but friendly gaze.
- Dress appropriately: Appropriate dress is a good rule to abide by for all gender identities, but dressing to your field is key. If you work in tech, publishing, law, or fashion, the rules will vary. Keep it stylish but professional. Make sure your clothes are taken care of, no matter how casual. Don't try to look super-sexy. Look competent.
- Do your research: Take a look at what other female leaders are wearing and replicate their style. You can mimic their hair and clothing or anything else that inspires you.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2020 Brynn B Lewis
Jacob on September 17, 2020:
Jesus Loves you. Have faith in Jesus. He will be with you always and take care of you. Blessings
Abubakarjamalomar on September 12, 2020:
Nice article keep up