“Girl-Power” is a continual trending topic on all social media platforms of the day. Companies across the country are publicly displaying their efforts to ensure their workplaces are gender neutral – offering men and woman equal career opportunities, equal pay, equal treatment, and equal rights.
Have you ever sat in a boardroom full of men, being the ONLY woman present? I have and I found it extremely intimidating at first! As a young, female professional, I had to work very hard to move past the stereotype of being a cute, juvenile, and unnecessary addition to a male-dominated meeting. I had to prove myself – something that took time and consistent effort to achieve.
In the past, I have worked with some fantastic men, who treated me with respect and equality.
But I have also worked with men who treated me in a sexist and belittling manner.
Early on in my career, I decided not to let my negative experiences discourage me. I decided to create a mindset that allowed me to learn from both the good and the bad, letting them define my character.
Throughout my journey in Corporate America, I watched many women interact with their male peers, co-workers, and subordinates.
I saw things I liked and disliked, implementing the qualities that I admired into my own life.
This article is NOT a rant about equality and women’s rights (you can find plenty of that elsewhere). This is a PRACTICAL guide on how to be taken seriously as a female business professional. Although the following tips can be applicable to men as well, I am focusing this article on a woman’s actions in the workplace.
1.) Show Confidence
This was the single-most important step that I implemented in my own life.
Confidence was not a quality that came naturally to me, so I had to make a serious effort to take the steps to appear more confident.
Appearing self-assured and poised was a vital step in earning respect and credibility among my peers.
Related Article: 9 Easy Ways Women Can Project Confidence
2.) Don’t Flirt
Always remain above reproach!
Be careful when teasing your male coworkers and having “inside jokes” that only you share.
Don’t constantly touch your male coworkers. (A hand on the arm or back can convey many unprofessional things to others in the office).
Don’t make it a habit to drop by their office just to chat or send them emails that are not on a professional level.
The office gossip-vine can quickly generate a story that can damage your character among your peers.
You can be kind and have a good time without crossing the line of professionalism.
Related Article: 10 Lifestyle Choices That are Ruining Your Happiness
3.) Don’t Gossip or Badmouth
Although females are known to have a superior intuition then their male counterparts, this does not permit us to share our perceived insights with others.
Even though it can be an unfair stereotype at times, women do get a “bad rap” for spreading rumors and creating exaggerated stories.
Don’t let this behavior be something that you allow into your life.
If a rumor is passed on to you, let it die!
“I’m sure that person will improve over time,” or “If you feel this is an issue, you should go talk to them.”
Allowing gossip to become a part of your life can be very damaging to your credibility.
Related Article: 13 Successful Habits of All Happy Women
4.) Dress Appropriately
Let’s be honest! Most men love butts and boobs!
It is the man’s fault if he has a habit of objectifying woman, but it is the woman’s fault if she knowingly wears revealing clothes.
If you have the mentality of “It is his fault if he looks!”, then you are cruising towards a career of being nothing but eye candy.
Don’t let your rockin’ body be the thing that “professionally” defines you!
The first thing your peers should notice about you is your professional appearance and dedication to your work.
Related Article: 15 Successful Characteristics of a Classy Woman
5.) Don’t Allow Others To Talk Over You
This use to drive me crazy!
While I was talking, my male counterparts used to consistently interrupt and talk over me. I learned how to respond to this, watching a former female boss professionally confront a male employee who kept cutting her off.
While speaking, use a strong and confident tone. This alone discourages people from interrupting you.
If you are interrupted, do not immediately stop talking.
Continue speaking for a reasonable amount of time until either they stop talking or it becomes evident that they want to control the conversation.
Remember, you were speaking and you have the “right of way.” I
n a calm and controlled tone say, “Greg, I wasn’t quite finished” or “Just a moment.”
Also, you can calmly raise your hand to illustrate the fact that you would like them to wait their turn.
Tone of voice and professionalism are very important! You can “hold your own” without coming across as overbearing or haughty – two qualities women often get an unfair name for.
Don’t take it personally and don’t get discouraged! Time and consistent behavior can earn you the respect you deserve.
6.) Take Responsibility For Your Mistakes
“I apologize, that was an oversight on my part. I will work on correcting it immediately.”
Take responsibility! Don’t blame your mistakes on other people! This is a sign of insecurity and selfishness.
People who blame-shift lose the respect of those around them and built an environment of distrust and resentment.
The sign of a good teammate and leader is taking responsibility for a mistake and taking immediate action to remedy it.
7.) Don’t Get Emotional and Moody
I’ve been in several meetings with ladies who cried when their projects were given constructive criticism.
Don’t do that – be strong! (I know it can be tough when your hormones are wacky and you’ve had a rough day.)
Your mood should not indicate that you are on your period! (No, this is not old-school – it is professional!)
Personally, my period is absolutely horrible. It takes serious effort and some wonderful drugs to keep my mood in check!
Don’t show anger unless you are being personally threatened – aka sexual or verbal harassment. Make an effort to have a consistent and reliable mood pattern.
Related Article: 9 Surprising Signs You’re a Negative Person
8.) Be Firm and Decisive
You need to be willing to listen to other’s opinions and weigh your options. However, don’t be easily influenced by others opinions or criticism.
Be confident in your own opinion and ability to make accurate decisions.
If you are prone to second guess yourself, drown out your indecisiveness by moving forward with the decision you made.
Women are often seen as easily influenced targets. Destroy that stereotype and be confident in yourself!
9.) Earn Your Place
Being a woman does not mean that you deserve to have your voice heard.
To earn a place “at the table”, both men and women must be dedicated subject matter experts.
Over time, you can prove that your work ethic is superior and your dedication is unwavering.
As your value increases, your reputation will precede you and your opinion will gain respect.
Work hard and prove yourself! This is the tried and true way to succeed.
Related Article: 9 Serious Signs You Have No Work-Life Balance
10.) Be Professional on Social Media
Enough with the sexy clubbing pictures!
Stop posting those long, political rants!
Although your personal and professional lives should remain separate, your social media account can show people who you really are!
Be very aware that your posts may affect your co-worker’s perception of you.
When I worked in Human Resources, I was instructed to search potential employees on social media.
Don’t let your social media accounts jeopardize your reputation.
If you prefer to remain private, make it a policy not to add any co-workers to your personal accounts. This can help to maintain your private life.
To be taken seriously as a career woman takes effort and perseverance – as it does with every business professional.
When we work with other human beings, offenses and misunderstandings will happen.
You must carefully determine which circumstances you should confront or let go.
Sexual or verbal harassment – CONFRONT IMMEDIATELY!
A slightly rude comment or an interruption – probably let it go.
Over time, you will learn which tactics work best for you. Practice makes perfect and your journey of choices is ahead of you!
If you have any questions about this article, just let us know in the comment section below! We’d be happy to help you out!