Readers Are Spellbound & Perplexed…
Dear GWBW — I’m a hard working woman. I do all right with my title and salary but would like to earn more. I think I need to become more assertive, but I’m actually worried I’ll change my personality. How do I become one without doing the other? — Speaking Up For Myself
Dear Speaking Up For Myself,
Clear the path for other women, mama! Women still earn only 77 cents annually to every dollar a man makes. Aside from all the solid reasons why women would benefit from being more proactive (not wait for someone to notice their great and hard work; that’s not how it works), straightforward and expecting more, I sense you have other conflicts in this department. So I’m urging you to: Start appropriately speaking up for yourself in life and your work voice will follow suit. Assertiveness is not the same thing as aggressiveness. Look ‘em up, Polly. Get more crackers out of life.
As for your personality changing when you learn to assert yourself more — strap that helmet on because it will, but in the best ways. Instead of worrying about this, I’d like you to make two columns headed “What I Like About Myself” and the other “What I Need to Speak Up About More Often.” Go wild, cupcake! Don’t hold back. In either column. I think you’ll have fun filling these out, but if you find you have more trouble with one than the other (or both), then that’s where you really want to take some coaching from the old children’s traffic poster and: stop, look and listen.
See if your challenge is more around not liking yourself enough (subjectively, I deem having fewer than 10 Items in your “Like About Yourself” column is way too speedy a lane to be standing in in life), or scared to “Speak Up About (More).” Note that I put that in parentheses because you may already do an OK-ish job identifying issues and speaking up for yourself, but maybe, just maybe, you could stand to just amp up the frequency (not to be confused with volume) and consistency, lil lady. Lastly, please don’t worry about losing friends or hurting others’ feelings if and when you are simply speaking up for yourself…ever.
Raise your expectations,
Dear Speaking Up for Myself,
I’m confused. In what universe does speaking up for yourself mean changing your personality? The truth is the truth, whether you speak it or not. Now you can try the passive-aggressive-never-say-straight-out-what’s-on-your-mind, but getting what you want through manipulative means seems more two faced than setting the record straight.
You want people to take you seriously in business, you better start taking yourself seriously. What you care about, what you feel is valid because you care and you feel it. If you are too afraid to speak up and share what matters to your heart, how will you stick up for an idea you have on a project, budget, new hire or fire? The ability to speak up to share what’s on your mind is a critical quality for a successful business-person.
Hard working moves beyond overtime and taking on extra duties. Hard working means showing up and participating. Participating means saying what’s on your mind. If you are not showing up, bringing all your skills and ideas to the table, you’ll only be perceived as a follower. Followers don’t get the promotions, the raises or the responsibilities.
Now remember, speaking up does not mean getting defensive, argumentative or loud. It is calmly stating what is on your mind. Remember, in an idea session, everybody can be right and maybe the answer is a combination of two ideas rather than one person’s idea over another. Practice in the mirror. Start meditation classes so you are clearer with yourself about your own information. The more you feel it is acceptable to feel the way you do (because it is. Hello nature!) the easier it will be to express those feelings without self-judgment, which should make it easier to share with the rest of the world without too much defensiveness.
Image – Alexis Biedel, Glamour Magazine
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