Category: Act Like A Woman, Think Like A Man

Are You A Confident Woman? This Is How You Can Tell For Sure

Are you a confident woman? These three questions will tell you for sure and the following suggestions will help you develop confidence. Furthermore for both professional and personal success, develop confidence.

Women are led to believe that being shy and quiet is feminine and desirable. As a result, American culture rails against competent and confident women. When we speak up or state our views emphatically, swift criticism communicates negativity. Yet in order to be successful, women must speak up.

Studies show that self-confidence indicates a willingness to succeed and create valuable work and personal relationships. “Success, it turns out, correlates just as closely with confidence as it does with competence.”  

How do you know if you are a confident woman?

  • Assess your language. Do you use qualifiers when stating your opinion or offering an idea? Those qualifiers include “maybe”, “I’m not sure”, “this may not work”, or “it may not make sense”. Language matters, as a result prepare and state your case simply with self-assurance.
  • Does the sound of your voice raise at the end of sentences? Record and listen to yourself speaking or in conversation. Your cadence can indicate insecurity. Cadence is the rhythm or flow of the sound you produce. Does your voice tone raise at the end of a sentence as if you are asking a question? This indicates that you don’t feel confident in what you say. You can change that style by practicing to change the habit of always going up at the end of a sentence.
  • Are you afraid to speak up and offer input at meetings? Learn to speak up with input that is both relevant and on topic. Ask for a meeting agenda and learn the purpose of the meeting. Develop an idea or input that is solution focused. Practice in a smaller group of colleagues and ask for their feedback.

Enhance your self-confidence with these strategies. First, stop comparing yourself to men. Understand that men have a leg-up in the corporate world because like attracts like. Comparison to men lowers your self-confidence. In her groundbreaking book “In a Different Voice” Carol Gilligan defined one fundamental difference between men and women. They develop differently. Individuals function in relationship to others. When women compare themselves to men, they do not compare favorably.

  1. Caring about relationships is fundamental to a woman’s development. Monitor how you interact at work and recognize this fundamental difference. The idea that the “good woman” is responsive to the needs of others and not her own needs creates a fundamental dilemma for women. The ethic of selflessness (not being selfish) creates a situation where women don’t speak up for themselves. Fundamentally, female scholars posit that men view the world from a position of separateness while women view the world through connectedness. This fundamental difference can skew women’s self-evaluation and hinder self-confidence.
  2. Make a list of the ways this belief may affect the way you interact at work. Because self–examination develops a thought process that allows you understand,  it helps you change the way you interact at work. After you make the list choose how you want to change those beliefs or self-perceptions. Next, ask yourself how changing that perception can increase your self-confidence.
  3. Do you have a place where you can get feedback? Create a lunch and learn group where you can discuss these issues and practice being effective at work. You can even practice your language skills in this group.
  4. Confident women have colleagues at work, not “best friends”. As a result, monitor your disclosures at work even to your work friends. It is best to save personal vulnerability sharing for relationships that are not work related. Personal struggles can undermine your self-confidence at work.
  5. Developing a belief in your competence will enhance self-confidence. Men are more likely to believe in themselves based on their separateness viewpoint. Your competence and self-confidences don’t depend on a false comparison to men. Your ideas merit consideration equally with those of your male counterparts. Owning your competence enhances self-esteem and confidence in your value as a fully participating team member at work.

In conclusion, the journey to self-confidence takes time and energy. Additionally, recognize your value and assess your self worth as it relates to your skills and talents. Recent revelations about sexual harassment, highlight the fact that women need to speak up and speak out. Consequently, improving self-confidence will pay dividends in the future of women at work.

Pat Magerkurth is a coach with over 40 years of experience in the work place. Contact her at pat@inviaconsulting.com for a free consultation to discover how you can improve your self-confidence at work and in your relationships.

Act Like A Woman, But Think Like A Man

Act like a woman, but think like a man to succeed in a male-dominated work environment.  Look no further than the presidential election to find that our culture evaluates women by different standards. For example, no one said that the male candidate needed to “smile” more.

Politics is a male-dominated work environment. As recently as September 2017 Nancy Pelosi reminded the men in a White House dinner meeting that women need to be heard as the men talked over her. She asked “Do the women get to talk around here?” Many women experience being invisible at work.

A study released by the organization Lean In found that white men occupy 67% of C Suite positions. This means women and men of color occupy only 33% of the executive levels in American companies. A study of executive positions in the public sector published by Lynne Rienner Publishers defined five characteristics of an executive position.

  • These roles “uniquely feature solitude” based on their individual actions and accountability.
  • A female leader is subject to greater external scrutiny because of her status as a female and the “great man” model of leadership. This leadership model is at odds with expectations.
  • Leaders often manage a large organizational structure which is hierarchical and may also act as a liaison with external stakeholders.
  • As a leader the executive must be both proactive and reactive. They both set the direction for the organization and react to external forces and factors.
  • In their specific role, each leader must understand a broad set of data points, be able to understand the effect of their actions on the future, and direct their organization.

What does it mean to think like a man?

These characteristics tell us what qualities successful executives or leaders possess.  Thinking like a man means being decisive, assertive, independent, willing to take a stand, and willing to take risks. Feminine attributes include being gentle, cheerful, soft-spoken, eager to soothe hurt feelings, and yielding.  These attributes come from an instrument that plots individuals on a scale from masculine to feminine and in the center is androgynous.

Sandra Bee designed the  Bem Sex Role Inventory to assess how people perceive themselves relative to culturally defined masculine and feminine attributes.  According to Forbes the number one attribute to success is being willing to take risks, which is considered a masculine trait in our culture.

A key dilemma for women in a male-dominated work environment is how to stay out of the traps set by these attributes.  For example, some underlying expectations seem to dictate that women act as the social director or caretaker (planning the social events or always loading the dishwasher). As a result, use these five strategies to think like a man at work.

Five Strategies for Thinking like a Man

  1. Be strategic with your business connections and find mentors and advisers within your field that are not in your workplace. Many successful people have mentors who can help guide them on their path. If you can find a male mentor, good for you.
  2. Speak up in meetings and contribute. At first it may feel awkward because women may not value their own ideas. When constantly interrupted, ask the interrupter politely to let you finish.
  3. Take credit for your ideas and don’t qualify your contributions with language. Statements such as “maybe you’ve tried this before” or “I’m not sure this will work”. Research your idea and prepare a solution focused approach.
  4. Be assertive and don’t let others put you down. You can respond as Nancy Pelosi did in a recent meeting at the White House when all of the men continued to interrupt her. Use light humor, but be careful not to be seen as a clown or silly.
  5. Let go of little slights. Gender bias can be unintentional. Use the interaction as an opportunity to educate your coworker in a non-confrontational manner.

Women getting ahead in the workplace dictates our need to support each other, because women have a long way to go to find parity. First be introspective about your workplace dilemmas. Ask initially what you need to do differently for a different outcome. It helps to recognize your own participation in the system.  Then proactively work to make changes where you can.

As a coach and consultant with over 40 years in the corporate world, Pat Magerkurth can help you solve some of these complex workplace dilemmas. Contact her at Pat@inviaconsulting.com for a free initial session to discuss your specific situation and goals.

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