Monday, July 24, 2017

WHAT SHOULD WOMEN (and others) DO?

Despite changing times, women still form the largest single group of professionals who may display negative overtones to their overt message. But not just women! Anyone who –because of culture, personality or gender—tends to be shy, deferential, reluctant to speak up, or is intimidated by their “superiors,” is at a distinct professional disadvantage.

Culture and social training encourage women to express themselves with a “feminine voice,” to move with grace, to attend to appearance, to defer to others, to smile and show emotion, to avoid overt competition with peers, and to not interrupt. This applies particularly to people (women and men) from East and Southeast Asia, where silence, waiting one’s turn, and “respecting” elders is important, and to Latin American and African women, who have a strong female identity and polite deference to elders and men in general.

Here then are some tips for the workplace. 
  • Speak at the low end of your vocal register. Lower voices convey confidence and authority. Simply dropping your head and chin while talking can achieve this.
  • Breathe deeply and fully for vocal power. Do not limit your breathing to your upper chest. Instead, give your lungs a full “belly breath” –like the bellows of a musical instrument, or a professional swimmer taking in as much air as possible—to help you compete with the stronger lungs of a male voice.
  • Relax your posture to avoid looking stiff and nervous. When seated, expand your arms, away from your body, and lean in.
  • Avoid tilting your head to the side, which suggests accommodation and unconditional understanding, good qualities at times, but in stark contrast to the vertical head posture of men, which lends an exacting, authoritative air of a precision-driven leader.
  • Control excessive smiling, laughing, and hand gestures, to stand out less against your relatively serious, unemotional male counterparts.
  • Dress professionally, especially when delivering a presentation. Avoid flashy or jangling jewelry, hair falling over the eyes or across the face, or clothing that is distractingly revealing.
In every case, help others to focus less on your personal attributes and more on the job at hand and your competence in handling it.