a little bit of Wendy the Wimp in all of us. You know what
I'm talking about. Sitting quietly through a meeting. Pretending
to be absorbed by your pen when your boss asks for volunteers.
Or refusing to speak up when someone else is taking credit
for your idea.
Think back to the last time you pitched an idea in a meeting
– how well was it received? Did anyone ever act on your proposal?
Do you think people would've greeted your plan with more enthusiasm
if someone else had pitched it? If you feel you're not getting
the recognition you deserve at work, it may not be what you're
saying, but how you're saying it.
Too many people unknowingly invite failure when they propose
an idea because their approach is wrong. We all know that
hard work alone is not always rewarded. If you really want
to get ahead, you have to make your presence felt. So if you're
fading into the woodwork, ditch that wallflower persona and
start acting like a meeting-room diva.
For starters, if you want people to start taking your ideas
seriously, you need to present them seriously. Don't undersell
yourself with weak words or modifiers. Consider the following
"I'm not sure if this is
relevant, but I was wondering if we might
be interested in conducting a competitive analysis before
we move forward?"
"I strongly recommend conducting
a competitive analysis before
we move forward."
matter how brilliant your idea is, don't undersell yourself
with a weak pitch. By qualifying your statements with comments
like I'm not sure if this is a good idea or I'm just new here
but, you're inviting people to argue with you. And don't use
weak words: kind of, maybe, or perhaps all lessen the effectiveness
of your statement. Instead, use strong statements like strongly
believe or highly recommend. It's generally women who opt
for a weaker vocabulary, so be especially aware of this tendency
if you're a woman working with a group of men.
Another fatal flaw is posing a statement as a question. Again
you're inviting people to argue if you ask a question rather
than making a statement. Keep in mind that raising your intonation
at the end of a sentence makes it sound like you're asking
a question, even if that's not your intent. Similarly, speaking
too high, too fast or too quietly all signal nervousness and
negate your credibility.
During a discussion, don't be afraid to take credit for your
work or ideas. Use I not we when appropriate. But be careful
about excluding others who genuinely deserve recognition.
And don't let other people steal your thunder. If you're in
the middle of speaking and someone interrupts, try saying
something like, "Excuse me Nick, I was still speaking. Please
hold your comments for just a minute."
Remember that the majority of our communication is non-verbal.
Unconscious actions send their own messages to your audience.
Keeping this in mind, don't fidget. It looks unprofessional
and can be incredibly irritating to those around you. And
whatever you do, don't primp – playing with your clothes,
make-up or hair is the ultimate professional faux pas.
Make eye contact when you're speaking. It may feel strange at
first, but direct eye contact signals confidence and control
– exactly the traits you want to convey in the meeting room.
And even though it feels polite, don't nod or smile too much
while others are speaking. It looks insipid. Save your nods
for those points you strongly agree with.
So there you go – being a diva is really not that difficult.
And with a little luck and a lot of practice, you'll be well
on the way to getting the recognition you deserve.
How to Assert Yourself in a Meeting