Listening to my girlfriends discuss the challenges they have working with other woman only re-enforces for me the truth about women in business… sometimes, we can be our own worst enemies.
We all want to be treated with respect and be seen as capable, confident business people but ask yourself this – when was the last time you had an issue working with a woman yourself?
Did she react emotionally to something in an inappropriate way? Did she avoid your calls and not respond to texts? Have you ever done it too? Almost all of us have – myself included, particularly when I was younger and just starting my career.
20 years of experience teaches you certain lessons. Younger women ask me all the time what my one tip for them to succeed would be – there isn’t just one. If I had to make a short list it would come down to these six things:
1. Guy it Up
It can take a woman FOREVER to say something… and then even not really know what she said. Men are direct and women are indirect in the way that they communicate. In business, women need to learn to Guy it up!
Be clear. Be direct. Be concise.
Don’t type an email that is longer than a few sentences if you can help it. No one has time to read crazy long emails that include a ton of unnecessary chatter. Get to the point in as few words as possible without being rude.
2. Don’t Take Anything Personally
Direct communication can sound offensive to the ears of us feminine types, however most of the time it is not intended to be. And, even if it is, reacting emotionally has no place in business transactions.
Take a deep breath, remove the emotion and manage the logistics. Don’t lose time because of an emotional reaction, and don’t withdraw emotionally in response either. Count on yourself for your own sense of value and don’t allow others to take your confidence from you… It’s your confidence – they can’t have it.
3. Be Professional
Get your job done with efficiency and confidence. Be conscious of everyone’s time and respect it. Never be late. Never discuss confidential work issues with others.
Build your career with results and great work ethic. Never date inside the office. Ever. Dress like a woman but never use your cleavage as leverage. People love doing business with people who are great at their jobs and are drama free. Make it easy for others to work with you.
4. Under Promise and Over Deliver
Women tend to be pleasers and as pleasers we can make promises on what we want to be able to deliver as opposed to what we know we can deliver. Be realistic and accurate.
Do not set expectations that you can deliver something you are unsure of. You will never get repeat business when you miss a delivery deadline, or worse – if you don’t get it done. Instead, make promises you can keep and have the confidence to say “no” when you are being asked for something that you’re unsure of or don’t want to do.
5. Know Your Value
Do not undercharge for your services. Too frequently women will discount their prices in order to get business when they don’t have to. By discounting too quickly that shows a lack of confidence and a lack of value.
Do your research – know what others charge for what you offer and set your pricing appropriately. Taking on work that you feel you are being underpaid for is nobody’s fault but your own (if you do it). And if you do do it, and then you treat the client or job as less important and don’t work as hard – you are damaging your business, your brand and your reputation. Instead, know your value and charge appropriately in the first place.
6. Be Positive
The value of a positive attitude is almost unparalleled. Being pessimistic, doubtful or negative about yourself, your job or others is negative to be around. Elevate those around you by setting the example with a positive mindset. Be tough with your negotiations and then be nice when they are done.
And – be positive to other women in your wake… Treating other women in a way that is intended to make things tougher for them or to make them question their confidence is despicable.
At some point I would bet all of us have had another woman give us a hard time just to be difficult. Lets not persist that behaviour. Instead, do your best to make it easier for other women – they battle back and forth from hot mess to success just as much as we do.
We are all in this together, and we can help each other.