Do you scare people?
Evidently, I do, on occasion. A male colleague once confided in me that when we first met, “you kind of scared me a little.” That stopped me short. Me, “scary”? I did a quick mental checklist:
- Frightening facial hair and/or markings? No.
- Tendency to growl or make other creepy noises? Nope.
- Verbal references to scary things like zombies, catastrophes, or impending doom? Nuh-uh.
So what gives?
Luckily for me, by the time my colleague shared this with me, we had established a good working relationship. I was able to follow up: “Scary, really? What do you mean?” It turns out that because I approach my work with a sense of purpose and gusto, I appeared formidable to him. My enthusiasm and ability to move a project forward was, to him, a bit intimidating at first.
I can live with that.
What I can’t live with is the way that our society often equates women who are comfortable in their power with fear. Articles like Why Successful Women Terrify Us show that both men and women have trepidations about the interplay of professional women, power and the workplace.
I don’t have a problem with being powerful as long as it’s used properly. It’s not power that’s scary; abuse of power is. Every day, you have the choice to decide: how will I use my power?
Will you use your powe
r to intimidate or to attract?
r to intimidate or to attract?
Fear-based motives produce interactions that are intimidating, which repels people. When you act with the intention to attract people – to invite them into conversation and action, you use the power of who you are to create positive, mutually beneficial work relationships.
The conversation with my colleague did allow for some reflection. Did I come on too strong in our first meetings? Most likely. Was I appropriately collaborative? Yes, but there’s always room for improvement. But I won’t apologize for being intense, upbeat and driven to action. That’s who I am. My colleague’s feedback was a gift: pay closer attention to the impact you’re having on people, Jen. At the same time, if I’m acting with integrity and positive intentions and that still scares someone, then that’s their problem and not mine. I won’t apologize for staying connected to my power.
How do you stay connected to your power?
Photo credit: iStockphoto
About the author: For 20+ years, Jennifer V. Miller has been helping professionals “master the people equation” to maximize their personal influence. A former HR generalist and training manager, she now advises executives on how to create positive, productive workplace environments. She is the founder and Managing Partner of SkillSource and blogs at The People Equation. You can connect with Jennifer on Twitter as @JenniferVMiller.
Recently I was in a meeting when a topic came up that I feel strongly about. Working in the trenches, I felt that implementing this specific procedure could present challenges for our team so when it was brought up, I spoke up. It felt natural and my argument came across as clear and well thought out.
I was successful in that moment because of a few key factors. Here are some guidelines to utilize the next time you need to speak your mind.
- Exercise your knowledge on the subject at hand. Know your topic before you make your case for or against it. If it’s a brand new issue that is being brought up, don’t immediately list the reasons it will or won’t work. Take some time to research and ensure you have thought through all sides. In my case, it was something that had been on the table before, so I had time to organize my thoughts and research how it fit in to our workplace goals.
- Make sure it’s the right place at the right time. I presented my case in a meeting with other members of management. I felt it was appropriate because the decision would have an effect on them and I wanted to give them the opportunity to add their feedback. There will be times when it would not be appropriate to bring up your side in front of a whole group. Know your audience and whether or not it would be something better discussed in a one on one meeting
- Back up your case. I acknowledged that the process did hold some value but argued it was not one that would be beneficial to roll out in a uniform manner across the organization. I highlighted the areas where it could produce an obstacle and offered alternate solutions to handle those situations.
As we progress in our careers we become more confident in our voice. Don’t be afraid to use yours.
Photo credit: iStockphoto
Often times the only difference between success and failure is confidence. It is the most beautiful attribute on a woman, and it’s necessary to be successful in the workplace.
A confident woman portrays strength, determination and persistence, and is not afraid to be herself. While we all know confidence is crucial in order to create a name for yourself in the office, actually obtaining it is another story.
Read these tips to help yourself be more confident at work, command the attention of your co-workers and gain their respect.
Redefine Your Picture of Confidence
Confidence is portrayed through more than just words. And contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t always mean being outgoing or boastful. Often it is just the opposite: meek and humble. When one is confident in their skills and abilities, they do not feel the need to continually convince others. Try instead to focus on being compassionate and eager to learn, yet strong. In doing so, you will portray power. You will show others that you have something to offer the world.
When you talk about yourself to others, what do you say? Do you continually criticize yourself or put yourself down? Or do you speak of your greatest achievements? Words are powerful, and whether we like it or not, they actually do have the power to hurt us. The things we tell others about ourselves generally become true sooner or later.
Pay attention to your self-talk. If you catch yourself harboring negative thoughts, replace them with positive ones. Remind yourself of your many strengths, talents, and achievements on a daily basis. You've worked hard to get to where you are – you earned it. You deserve the respect of your peers. You’ll find that focusing on constructive thoughts and language regularly will gradually begin to shift your self-perception.
Create an Image
Confidence is not the result of a first-class haircut or an expensive outfit. However, items that increase your feelings of self-worth can provide you with a temporary confidence boost. And when utilized enough days
in a row, the self-image will start to become permanent.
If you feel more powerful in a certain suit, or gain assurance from your favorite pair of heels, take advantage of them. Capitalize on anything that contributes to a more positive, confident you.
Take a moment to study yourself in the mirror. What does your image say about you? Do you look polished and put together? Do your eyes shine back with an intent gaze or are they shifty and downcast? Does it appear that you value your health and take care of your body, or do you seem to have let yourself go?
Even when your lips are sealed, your body is communicating hundreds of messages. Your physical appearance, posture, and mannerisms speak volumes as well. Focus on improving the shortcomings you spot in the mirror. Show others you value your body enough to take proper care of it. Practice good eye contact with yourself, and feel free to practice facial expressions as well. You may feel silly, but when the time comes to speak in front of a group, your muscle memory will spring into action- eliminating stress and anxiety.
Fake It Til You Make It
Keep in mind that no one is confident all of the time. Every single person has moments of weakness and doubt. The key is being able to recognize these moments and pull yourself out of them. When your assurance just isn’t there, fake it until you actually believe it. Close your eyes, take a deep breath, hold your head high, and smile.
Being confident at the office is often crucial to gaining respect, having your ideas heard, and improving your position within the company. Being more confident does take a bit a practice, but once you get the hang of it, it can become second nature.
Photo credit: iStockphoto
About the author: Elli Bishop is a writer for Your Local Security. She was born and raised in Colorado and now enjoys skiing, playing tennis, and hiking in the mountains of Salt Lake City, Utah. Elli speaks from experience when it comes to overcoming shyness.
This is the 9th post in our Women of HR series focusing on career. Read along, consider the advice and we invite you to comment with insights of your own.
Go into your next interview prepared to negotiate.
One can argue that a well laid plan is never a bad idea. However, when it comes to negotiating a salary—it’s a must!
I am telling you this from experience.
When on the job search a few years ago in Denver, I accepted a really low salary because I wasn’t prepared to negotiate pay for what I thought was fair. I ended up feeling stuck in a low paying job with no chance of a near raise or bonus. So I sought the advice of a personal injury attorney, who advised me on the proper techniques for negotiating a fair salary that both myself and my employer were happy with.
Going into your next interview prepared with some rough salary calculations will keep your eye on the prize. And because salary negotiations in an interview can create a lot of anxiety—the thought of confrontation might leave you feeling nervous. Or you might end up sounding either too greedy if you ask for too much or just plain pathetic if you don’t ask for what you think you’re worth and just accept the base offer. Having a range in mind can take a lot of pressure off both you and your potential employer.
Follow these 5 steps when negotiating your next salary:
1. Settle on a suitable salary range before your interview
Going into an interview, you may be afraid of the uncomfortable point when the interviewer will ask you what your salary expectations are. You know it’s going to happen, so why not be prepared with a salary range? You can settle on a suitable salary range by researching the average salary of comparable positions in the city you work in. You will get paid more for your higher education and any special skills or qualifications you might have as well. Keep this in mind: if you ask for more than you want, the interviewer will be forced to negotiate if they really want you and you may end up with money than what the employer originally had in mind.
2. Don’t bring up salary
At some point during the meeting, the interviewer will want to talk about your salary expectations. However, that doesn’t mean you need to be the one to talk money first. I recommend letting the interviewer bring the topic up, then ask about the range they are willing to pay, before you offer up an expected amount. This way, you get the upper hand by learning what they are willing to pay first (they are probably working within a budget). After that, you can aim for the high end of the employer’s range instead of guessing in the dark.
3. Always negotiate in a range
Never state a solid number and stick to it. It’s best to give the employer a high and low end to work with. This tactic is not meant to devalue your skills or education, but stating a range rather than a firm numbers shows that you are willing to work with the employer so that everyone is happy.
4. Support your worth
Your potential employer isn’t going to just agree to pay you what you want without some sort of explanation on your part. You will be expected to provide the “why?” Meaning “why” you think you deserve this range of pay. Your calculation should be based on the skills and work experience you will bring to the table (i.e., so your education, skills, expertise, professional accolades, and your years of service).
5. Remember there are bonuses to any salary
If the job is one that you know you will really enjoy, but the employer can’t pay you the money you expect, all is not lost! Negotiations as far as things like holidays, lieu days, and health benefits are still on the table. Many start-up companies and small businesses will offer employees lower salaries, but make up for it when it comes to additional holidays or bonuses until they can afford to pay employees more in salary. Remember, bonuses and holidays can bulk up your salary by almost half if you consider lieu days, reduced hours, and the option to work from home.
Learning the proper techniques for negotiating a salary means that you won’t end up accepting the base offer or agreeing to less pay than you think you’re worth. If you do, your whole job hunt could be for nothing because you’ll be unfulfilled financially and looking for a better paying job right away.
Photo credit iStockphoto
About The Author: Colleen Harding is a staff writer for a Denver personal injury attorney and guest blogger who specializes on writing about law. Today, Colleen hopes that sharing her knowledge will make us all happy, law-abiding citizens. She is also a member of Amnesty International as well as an active volunteer in her community.
When you went to work this morning, you had a job. When you came home, you did not.
Maybe you hated your job so bad, you just quit without having a new position lined up. More likely, your employer terminated you and you’re devastated. Whatever the reason, you’re back in the job market again.
If you were terminated through no fault of your own, take a day or two to recover from the shock and assess your financial situation. Determine how long your severance pay and your savings will last; be brutal in cutting out discretionary expenses.
If you aren’t already following a regular exercise routine, establish one now. Exercise is a great way to reduce stress and keep yourself in shape. Now is not the time to have health problems.
The job may be gone, but you’ve still got your skills and will be a valuable employee to an appreciative employer.
Networking is a Valuable Tool
Start networking almost immediately. Work your contacts to see if they know of any jobs where your talents and skills can be put to good use. If you want to expand your networking beyond known contacts, consider joining LinkedIn, an online networking system for business people in every field. A basic membership is free and allows you access to thousands of groups where members have interests similar to yours.
If money isn’t an immediate problem, consider setting up your own business. Many people go on to operate successful businesses after losing a job. You could be a freelance consultant in your field. It’s even possible, if you lost your job due to an economic downturn, your employer will hire you back on a freelance basis.
Temporary Jobs Can Lead to Permanent Positions
Temping is another option for finding work. Register with the temporary employment agencies that specialize in your field. It is not uncommon for a temporary assignment to turn into a permanent position as many employers like to “try out” employees before hiring them.
Above all, keep a positive attitude. On bad days, it’s easy to wallow in self-pity and feel worthless. Consider this: You got your last job because of your skills; your skills will get you another job.
Make a list of your major accomplishments at your last job, and the skills you used to achieve them. Review it whenever you feel down. The list will come in handy at job interviews and make it easier for you to adopt a positive can-do attitude before a prospective employer.
If you feel like you’ll never be hired again, it could turn out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Photo credit: iStockphoto.com
About the author: This post was contributed by Kelly Austin from highersalary.com and is geared towards helping people make specific, positive changes that will avoid mistakes and propel them toward their goals and towards success.
Recently I attended the Ohio HR Conference, HR Rocks!! As part of the planning committee, it was a great experience for many reasons.
One reason it was so great was that we told attendees they could wear jeans. Amazing how something so simple could set the tone for the week. Our committee wore tie-dye all week with our jeans and invited people to relax in our lounge filled with lava lamps, candles and incense – at an HR Conference!
One experience last week has stuck with me the most . . .
During lunch on Thursday, our 770+ attendees and our 160+ resource partners all gathered to savor the incredible Fajita Bar. Plates were loaded beyond capacity and hands were full as people approached a separate beverage station to grab a glass of water, lemonade or ice tea. The Kalahari staff were so amazing the whole week – especially here. But, even as much as they tried, the line continued to grow and grow and grow.
Before the week started, I told my Committee that I wanted to set a new expectation for us and the Conference attendees. I wanted us to serve them in ways they hadn’t experienced at a conference before. To make sure I didn’t fall into the classic HR trap of – just tell people what you expect and they’ll do it – I made sure to model this behavior.
So, I jumped in the front of the beverage line and started greeting everyone as they came up and handed them a glass full of ice. Then, the phenomenal team of Joan, Sonja and Keysha poured everyone’s liquid of choice and made sure to get more glasses to keep up with the demand. After stepping in, you started to hear laughing, see big smiles and positive comments from everyone instead of typical frustration with having to wait on service.
People said, “Wow, service with a smile!” I couldn’t resist but responding with, “Better than service with a scowl, huh?” It was the most rewarding 1/2 hours of the entire conference. We were able to serve our guests so that they could enjoy their lunch. Also, the staff from Kalahari saw that their work added immense value by meeting a simple need for others.
It’s time for HR to shift to a new approach. Instead of trying to mandate policies, force conformity and compliance at all costs, or be the function that polices vs. leads – we need to MODEL THE BEHAVIOR WE EXPECT FROM OTHERS.
We can’t keep expecting change to magically happen because we’ve come up with the next great “best practice.” Model behavior. It’s that simple.
To prove that point, Sonja, Joan, Keysha and I became tight. The rest of the week, I sought them out and they did likewise. I heard they even talked about the tall guy in the tie-dye shirt who jumped into help without asking if it was okay. They were some of the final hugs at the end of the week and I’m sure they will continue to be amazing.
Where can you change and model what you’d like to see? Try something this week and you’ll be astonished at the results!
I am a Canadian woman who is a visible minority and so proud to be part of this multi-cultural country that I call home.
I was born with an ‘ethnic’ name (Singh) and married and changed my name to another ‘ethnic’ name early in my career (Chandarpaul). When I changed my name, quite a few people (friends and family) told me not to use my new married name as it was ‘too ethnic, too long and too difficult.’ But I would not hear of it.
They told me that I would have too many barriers against me and would never succeed in the business world nor would I be considered for some jobs or given the same opportunities if I did this. This baffled me. I thought maybe I was naive.
I look back now, almost 10 years after my HR career began, and I laugh at those people. I have had the opportunity to work in my different companies, under varying lengths on contract and this meant I was quite often looking for a job at least once or twice a year. My name has never kept me back, it has never hindered me and it has never impeded my ability to get ahead, I am successful because of my credentials, what I give back to my community and the experiences I embark on and learn from.
Those cynics are the people who try and find excuses for not finding a job. If you don’t have the appropriate skills or don’t apply for jobs that fit your skill set it would be difficult to get that job regardless of what your name is.
So to all the people out there with a difficult, long, ethnic or unique name that gives them character and depth – keep moving on up!
Photo credit Deirdre Honner
About the author: Nita Chandarpaul works full time as a Human Resources Generalist with FNF Canada (a division of Fidelity National Financial). Nita enjoys balancing life as a wife and mother of a two and a half year old! Life is busy and fun and ever changing in the world of HR.
Cynical Girl Laurie Ruettiman has occasionally described HR as frumpy, an accusation I thought slightly unkind yet largely irrelevant. But when I surveyed the crowd of primarily female HR people at a recent seminar, she was right.
With a few notable exceptions, we were middle-aged, frumpy and on the chubby side.
Of course, age is just a number and heavy women can exude beauty and style. In case you don’t know, I am no fashionista; I am a tomboy with hints of thrift-store flower-child. My mantra has always been: comfort, comfort, comfort. Working in a nonprofit, I love that I could probably come to work in pajamas and not raise eyebrows. For much of my career, I wore khakis, a shapeless shirt, and shoes that can’t accurately be described as anything except butt-ugly. In other words, I was an ideal candidate for TLC’s What Not to Wear.
In fact, this show helped me see my attire in a whole new light: as a way to brand and promote myself, market my contribution to my organization, make myself feel good, and also communicate to the people in the room that I anticipate and honor our time together.
Since watching the show, my style evolution has been slow, modest, perhaps even unnoticed by others. I struggle with a proportionately small waist and curvy thighs, making it almost impossible to find pants that don’t simultaneously gap and bind. Skirts would be a great alternative except I’d have to think ahead and shave my legs. And probably wear uncomfortable shoes. Yes, I’m still a tomboy.
But then I think about those ladies at the HR event and it gives me pause. Forgive me, but I couldn’t escape the thought that, with a few notable exceptions, we looked like a convention of retired librarians.
I wondered, what image do we project to our employees when we dress like this? To our leadership, customers and constituents? Do we project confidence, boldness, vision, courage, innovation or vibrancy?
In fact, does anyone even notice us at all? Does the way we dress command attention and respect? Or do we just blend into the background where we belong while we quietly alphabetize workers comp forms or whatever else people assume HR does.
What would happen if we dressed as though we worked in advertising rather than in admin or in PR rather than Personnel?
As much as I love comfort, there will be no more HR frump in my office. I’m going to be creative, use color, explore my style and maybe even show my legs - confidently, vibrantly and without apology. Doing so communicates that I am awake. I am confident. I take pride in myself. I am aware it is 2011. I reinvent myself. I try new things. I take risks. I am my own person. I am not afraid.
After all, I am part of the HRevolution - not the HRarchives.
photo by estranelo_edessa
For decades, women have fought for the right to be taken seriously in business. They have literally shed blood, sweat and tears to earn an equal right to lead at the executive level and sit at the boardroom table. And, when they do finally sit down, it’s a hard fought, hard won victory. They made it. Sigh. Yawn. Grin. They are part of a very exclusive club.
Over time they meet another fellow conqueror who sits at another boardroom table miles away, and they bond, become friends, take walks together and are generally fabulous and kind to one another. They are role models; they share their insights at women conferences, pump their fists in the air and tell other businesswomen to fight for their dreams, to reach out to other young women and mentor.
Then one day, they return to their executive office and are introduced to young Ms. Lightning Brain, who was just hired because she is brilliant and energetic and has fabulously creative new ideas. All of a sudden, their spine straightens, their shoulders pull back and their chin dips as they look disparagingly over the rim of their glasses, and they think, Who is this young upstart with her edgy, cool clothing, her skinny body and her advanced degree? Well, I’ve got news for you little girl, you’re going to have to earn your seat, just like I did, no fast-track for you…because there is only one seat at the table.
Too dramatic? Maybe. Maybe not. It happens a lot. But what if the belief changed? What if women shifted from, there is only one seat at the table, to, there needs to be and can be several seats at the table. What if women stopped defending the one seat and started creating more seats for these young women, even showing them how to fill them?
I was in Chicago last week when a woman shared her personal story with me of how she revolutionized the dress code for women at her former corporate headquarters. She had been the rebel of her day, and now, years later, any woman wearing pants could thank her. This woman shared some great advice with me about how she had handled difficult experiences in the early days of breaking into a male dominated industry. She offered up some witty responses, insightful perspective and empowering comebacks to several scenarios, scenarios that unfortunately, too many women still encounter today…with other women. This woman is a gift, a treasure, and she gets that women have a choice…we can fight to the death for a single seat, or we can invite other women to fill the chairs beside us. Personally, I think if we focused on inviting other women to the table, it would be a lot more fun to sit there.
Women will often spend more time creating a whole new table for women to sit at than carving out another seat at their own. They’ll start women’s leadership groups, women’s entrepreneurial groups, women’s executive philanthropic groups, women’s political groups. Great, fabulous, rock-on. But…what if we also truly embraced that as women, one of our greatest gifts to other women would be to shift our beliefs and pull out another chair, and graciously offer it to the leaders of the next generation?
Photo credit iStockphoto
AmyK Hutchens, Founder and Intelligence Activist, AmyK International, Inc., is a speaker, trainer and business strategist. Follow AmyK on Twitter @AmyKinc or visit www.amyk.com .
I once participated in a team building effort for my facility’s management staff. The drive to build a more cohesive team included consultant led individual interviews, 360 degree feedback and an off-site group activity day.
During my individual interview, I wore gray pinstripe dress pants with a short sleeve turtleneck sweater. I was taken aback when the consultant offered unsolicited advice that she thought I dressed “too young.” I think what most caught me off guard was that the comment wasn’t followed up with any advice on what she thought would be suitable for the workplace.
My company’s dress code is business casual so I normally I stick to dress pants and a solid color button down shirt, throwing in some different accessories from time to time. If asked to critique my own workplace wardrobe I would say I consider myself fashionable but not “too young.”
The entire situation got me to thinking. What is the best way to handle unsolicited advice?
Considering my manager had never approached me about my attire and confident in my own abilities to dress myself as a grown woman, I decided to not put much merit into the consultant’s comment and not let it get me down.
During our careers we will all receive advice, feedback and criticism and some of it may very well be solicited and constructive. We shouldn’t be afraid to receive advice from others as it could play a part in helping us to grow as a professional. On the other hand if, and when, you do receive a piece of advice that you question, ask a valued colleague for their opinion on the matter. Finally, trust in yourself and have confidence in your own capabilities knowing that you made it this far in your career through hard work, experience and dedication.
And, when it’s all said and done, it’s your opinion that really matters most of all.
Photo credit iStockphoto