Confidence is hard to come by but will help you go far. Following the wins by many young, female and minority Democratic candidates in the midterm elections, we look at how to better assert yourself in the workplace.
As the midterm results roll in across America, it’s been an election of some very special ‘firsts’.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has become the youngest woman elected to Congress at just 29 years old, and Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar have become the first Muslim congresswomen.
At 36 years old, Omar is also pretty young – compare this with 57.8 – that’s the average age of a Congress member on October 1.
Entering a new role when you’re a woman, minority or perhaps younger than everyone else in the room can be daunting. We’ve asked the experts for some tips on how to assert yourself in the workplace if you feel like you’re perhaps entering at a disadvantage.
Silence your inner critic
Imposter syndrome is real. But here’s the thing: everyone at the table has some level of it. Keep working. The work both earns the spot and keeps the spot.— Farman Syed (@farmansyed) October 29, 2018
Imposter syndrome – feeling like you’re a fraud and don’t belong – is real, and many of us suffer from it. However, you probably got this job for a reason – you’re good enough, and beating yourself up won’t get you anywhere.
"The negative voice we’ve evolved to carry around with us is more likely to tell us we aren’t worth a pay rise, can’t do that presentation or will make a fool of ourselves in a meeting," says speaker, writer and activist Natasha Devon. "Recognise that voice and tell it to shut up."
Minorities are often told they have to work twice as hard as their white male counterparts to get to the same position and, unfortunately, this isn’t far from the truth in some workplaces. Even so, try not to doubt yourself – that will hinder you from really getting down to business.
Adopt positive body language
In a hangover from the Eighties, many women feel like they need to assume power poses if men in the workplace are going to take them seriously. However, Laura Little, Learning and Development Manager at CABA, thinks there are more positive things you can do.
"For instance, try to look straight ahead rather than down at the floor, sit or stand straight with your shoulders back instead of slouching, and adopt an ‘open’ posture rather than crossing your arms or legs," Little advises. "When you meet someone, greet them with a firm handshake."
We’re not saying you should ditch power poses completely, just don’t rely on them. Instead, reconsider your body language as a whole.
We did this, together.— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) November 7, 2018
Thank you! pic.twitter.com/TywZwt2dR3
It might be a generalisation, but the sad fact of the matter is, you’re likely to be judged as inexperienced or lesser if you’re young, a woman or a minority. As disheartening as this might be, prove these prejudices wrong by speaking up and showing your worth.
Little says: "If you have something interesting or important to say during a meeting or while speaking with colleagues, don’t be shy and keep it to yourself. Your confidence will impress, while your ideas could spark off further points for discussion. Speak calmly and clearly with an even tone.
Even though it’s important to get the confidence to share your ideas, don’t be tempted to speak just for the sake of it. It’s also good to listen to your colleagues, so you can then ask pertinent questions and build on concepts.