Q: At 5-foot-3 I find it very difficult to command attention as a new manager in a very male-dominated office space in downtown Toronto. Not to be mistaken with self-doubt of my own qualifications or my ability to do the job, I’m simply experiencing some challenges around getting my voice heard on a consistent basis. Some tips on articulation or simply on how to better assert myself would be really helpful. In case you are wondering Jill, I’ve already purchased some really high heels as well. Thought you’d like my humour and thanks for your help.
A: Kavita, thank you for writing in and yes I did appreciate your sense of humour. Ironically, at 5-foot-10 I’m often looking for fabulous professional flats or kitten heels! The truth is, and as you’ve recognized, working on our presence, articulation and assertiveness at work takes a lot more than a trip to the mall. Your best investment might be to consider working with a workplace communication and interpersonal behaviour specialist.
Gloria Pierre, president of Clearly Speaking (www.clearlyspeaking.ca) is offering a four-hour workshop specifically for women on both March 17 and 24 that you might find particularly interesting.
Pierre has worked with a long list of students and employees — including CEOs and government officials — who needed a little language and communication rejuvenation. It might be somewhat surprising to think of CEOs or government officials needing help asserting themselves, but then all we’ve got to do is speak to some of their employees to realize just how much lack of clear communication and poor decision-making skills can impact daily operations.
I’ve had the opportunity to observe how many women in senior positions operate and I must say the ones I admire the most are the ones who give clear, concise and commanding instructions. Now don’t mistake this with being stone faced or unapproachable — neither of these qualities command respect or signify strong leadership. However, the female leader who always apologizes or disqualifies her ideas by saying “I think” accompanied by a nervous giggle won’t gain respect either.
Here are some other resources you might find helpful because part of becoming more assertive is surrounding yourself with those who have already mastered it.
- The Women’s Executive Network (www.wxnetwork.com)
- The International Alliance of Executive & Professional Women (www.tiaw.org)
- The Business & Professional Women’s Clubs of Ontario (www.bpwontario.org)
- The Canadian Women’s Directory of Resources & Information (www.womennet.ca)
Jill Andrew — CYW, BA, BA (Hons.), BEd. Please include your full name, address and telephone number when e-mailing. All letters are subject to publication.
jill’s tip of the week
Many people miss out on applying for a great job because they’ve missed the deadline by a few days or their skill set isn’t exactly what the company is looking for.
The truth is, if you really want the job, apply anyway! Deadline dates are not usually the day employers actually review applications, plus many times employers will create first, second and third piles of potential applicants after reviewing resumés. You never know, it might just be your lucky day to at least snag an interview.
Also remember that even if you do get an interview, but don’t get the job you applied for you might be pegged for some other position in the company. It never hurts to apply and get your name out there.