I was recently invited to speak at a women’s conference on the topic of What Women Do To Sabotage Their Career. I have worked in the corporate industry as an etiquette expert and leadership trainer for over 15 years and have had the opportunity to witness first-hand what otherwise strong, successful, women in business do to undermine their professional power. Review the qualities described below and commit to a few simple adjustments.
Business Etiquette: Five Ways Women Sabotage Their Career
- Preoccupied with looks over results. There is research to support that attractive people have an advantage in business. However, a person you may have originally found striking can quickly lose her (or his) shine once you get to know them. A pretty woman with a shallow mind will quickly be viewed as vacuous by her peers and supervisor. An empowered woman knows the importance of a sharp skill set, credibility and reciprocal support from her team.
- Speak without thinking. Speaking out of turn about a coworker who is not present shows a clear lack of judgment. It is also a surefire way to lose the respect of your peers. Gossip is seen as an attempt to hurt another person’s reputation and does the most damage to the person spreading the rumors. Keep your conscience clear and your credibility in tact by avoiding office hearsay.
- Say yes to every request. I am constantly amazed at women who make million dollar decisions, yet are afraid to say no to the request of a donation or speech. Unless it’s something near and dear to your heart, and a service you would be happy to offer, respond with, “Thank you for the opportunity but I am going to pass. I wish you the best of luck on your search.” When you agree to every “free” request, your value is often perceived equally. When someone attempts to persuade you with, “It’s a great marketing opportunity,” the reality is that it probably is not. How many times were you hired after you made a free luncheon speech? How many widgets did you sell after giving one hundred of them away at a fundraising event? Exactly!
- Apologize for an opinion. When offering input or a suggestion, some women will apologize before they make their statement. “I’m sorry if I’m off track here, but I feel like we would be better served to cut the freight cost and interview other vendors. Is that a crazy idea?” Own what you say and speak with authority. Keep your hands away from your face and hair when you speak. Your voice should project strength and confidence
while you maintain eye contact and deliver your message in a pleasant, yet self-assured tone of voice.
- Dream small. “I wish I would have …” is not an acceptable mantra. If you are not yet professionally where you want to be, don’t settle … go for it! In the book, The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho, he writes “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” I find great inspiration in this quote. While I don’t believe you achieve success by sitting back and wanting something to happen, I do know that you can have immeasurably more than you can imagine if you dream big, work towards accomplishing your goal(s) and believe in yourself. Don’t get discouraged if you fail – there are valuable lessons in defeat. As you continue to search for opportunities, you will find that other possibilities will also find you. Perhaps in a direction that you wouldn’t have dreamed when you first started.