Being a woman in business is a challenge. There are so many obstacles one must face in the business world, but the longer you are in business, the less likely you are to make mistakes. Women are capable of being real impact makers in the business world no matter how big or small the business may be.
We have come a long way indeed. So why does it feel like many of us are still making the same mistakes in the workplace?
Let us examine them further to ensure they are avoided. Awareness is the first step of any problem.
- Lacking Confidence
Show a lack of confidence in yourself and your abilities and you may be passed up for profitable opportunities. Women who minimize their accomplishments, constantly apologize, and remain silent in meetings or presentations are going to fail.
It’s essential to believe in your abilities and have confidence that you can succeed in business. Always remember the most beautiful thing a lady can wear is confidence.
- Not asking for help
If you’re stuck, if there is something bugging you or if you’re just feeling a little isolated, get out and find a friend or mentor. Talk your problems and successes through with them. Get a little external input into your problems. Two heads are almost always better than one. Get out of your comfort zone.
- Having a Poor Professional Image
A poor professional image can ruin a woman’s business reputation. Your professional image is your identity in the business world. Colleagues, customers, and clients often decide whether to work with you based on their first image or impression of you. Because of this, first impressions can give you a competitive edge or cut you out of the game.
What your colleagues think of you matters a lot. Your reputation is a key thing when you want to prosper in your sector. Verbal as well as nonverbal communication, such as posture, greeting, voice tone, gestures, handshake, attitude, and eye contact, comes together to form your professional image. When you are speaking to a group, move slowly and purposefully around the room. Smile and look directly at customers and associates as you speak. Project your voice in a pleasing yet commanding tone, and share your stories.
As a public relations practitioner, I believe your brand name is only as good as your reputation.
- Being too hard or too soft
Don’t try too hard to break the wrong perception that a woman cannot be a tough negotiator or manager. Just be yourself. Women and men don’t deal with conflict the same and there is no reason for you to try to act like one of the boys. If you need to be stern, just do it in a way that you feel comfortable and will garner respect from your employees or colleagues.
Also, never appear to be a push over. Naturally, women have a softer nature but you do not want people taking advantage of that. You are the boss of your business and the people working for you will respect you when you command respect.
- Keeping a grudge
Whether a business deal goes wrong or a business relationship goes sour, whatever reason you may have for being upset, never hold a grudge. We tend to forgive, but seldom forget and in the process we miss out on people’s talents or new business opportunities. Also there is this mantra, “women hate other women.” Most women will tell you that they have survived at least one mean lady at their work place. A woman who dismissed or put down another woman is a disgrace to the female race.
- Waiting for opportunities to come to you
Many people fear speaking up when they want something. They wait to be approached for a promotion before showing interest, minimizing their chances for success. If you’re ready for a promotion, more responsibility, or a raise, be proactive and approach your manager. Let him or her know that you have earned the opportunity. Leave the aggression and arrogance at the door, and present your case with confidence. Even if rejected, you’ll earn respect and consideration for the next opportunity.
- Forgetting the golden rule
Why do so many women who make it to the top treat their subordinates badly? It’s not very smart, because the people who surround us can contribute greatly to our success. In the business environment, everyone should be respectful of everyone else. A respectful culture helps you, as well as the people around you, produce, think and work efficiently.
As women in today’s world, we do have opportunities to excel. To do so, it’s critical to pay attention to the cues around us and embrace behaviors like networking that may not be second nature to us.
- Thinking that nice girls never say no
Many women bring their nurturing side to work and end up taking on too many tasks. While being a team player and feeling needed is gratifying, too many duties will result in failure with a lot of them. Learn your limit and when and how to say no.
By stepping into these new comfort zones, not only can we succeed, but we can help right the gender imbalance in business and be role models for a whole new generation of top women leaders.
The workplace is a place of great opportunities, but can be filled with barriers too. Believe in yourself, keep your eyes open for new opportunities and remember to enjoy what you do and where you are headed!