I’ve always said to myself before the beginning of a new job, that this time – THIS TIME – I’m going to be the chatty, confident, fabulous one.
I’m going to speak up at meetings rather than blend into the corner. I’m going to graciously share my top advice, rather than keep my opinions to myself because I worry no-one will want to listen.
I want to be that smiling, kind, ever-helpful – but also firm, not-taking-any-of-your-nonsense – woman of the workplace.
But often, it doesn’t happen.
So I’ve made a list to ruthlessly follow, while inwardly channelling all the self-assured, powerful women in the world (Wonder Woman, my mother, Gina from Brooklyn 99, Lorelai Gilmore, among others).
1.Dress to impress
At the moment, my day job is working as a PA. I type letters, file documents, sort the post. Not a job that requires looking hot-as-hell, but I make sure I give it my best attempt.
On the days I come to work with shiny hair, wearing my ‘I’m powerful’ blue heels, and with my lipstick game on point – I feel like a woman on a mission. I feel like I can conquer the world and work in any profession I desire (except perhaps the medical field – I don’t think I’ll get anywhere with my U in Biology AS Level).
Whatever works for you, workwear-wise, go for it. Men, don’t wait for that important meeting to crack out your smartest suit, those extra shiny shoes, your favourite red tie. Women, do you prefer your hair up or down? Smart grey suit trousers or bright red skirt? Wear what makes YOU feel good, and it will show.
And remember that phrase “dress for the job you want, not for the job you have”. So I’ll be dressing like a top TV journalist, thanks.
2.Get out of your comfort zone
I try and do one thing per day that gets me out of my comfort zone. The other week I was at the pub with about 15 of my colleagues, and I tried to initiate a group cheers. You know, when someone jollily goes “cheers!” and everyone else joins in and clinks glasses and merrily drinks up. Well, it didn’t go to plan.
There was a lull of quiet, and I thought, “now, now is my moment”.
“Cheers everyone! Congrats to the new partners!” I held up my glass and grinned at the circle.
Except nobody heard me. Perhaps I should have literally bellowed, or spoken with more authority, or actually got on a chair.
The closest two people (who had heard) awkwardly smiled and clinked with me in pity. It was embarrassing. But hey, I definitely was not comfortable.
I blame it on my missing power heels. It was dress down Friday and I was wearing ankle boots and a cardigan.
A few of you might disagree with me here – but I think talking loudly does help a lot. It’s very easy to not hear – or even ignore – someone who speaks in a whisper. And for those (like me) at the very start of our careers, it’s important to be heard. It’s important to stand out. Of course, there’s a big difference between getting your point across loudly and authoritatively, and shout-interrupting someone already speaking (please don’t do that).
4.Look at the top
I look at my current (and past) bosses when I think about how I want to be seen in the workplace. How do they speak, carry themselves, act around other colleagues? I think of my former editors, news editors, my current line manager. All of them are firm, authoritative, and smartly dressed. They never put smiley faces in emails (I must stop doing that).
5.Think positive, act positive
I’ve always said I’m a glass half-full person. But despite that, I often worry I’m not doing well enough in work, which leads to negative thinking. Two managers go into a meeting? They’re definitely talking about me and my progress. Someone across the room catches my eye while talking to another colleague? Me, they’re 100% talking about me.
“Get a grip, you’re not that important,” I inwardly scold myself.
Think positive, KNOW that you’re a highly capable individual with many talents, and remember, other people have way more important things to discuss than whether or not you answered the phone that one time.
Any other tips on how to be more confident at work? I’d love to hear! Comment below or tweet me @meganjanearcher