If, like me, you suffer from bouts of ‘little girl syndrome’, you’ll understand the need to have an armoury of status-boosting techniques up your sleeve when dealing with senior male clients, colleagues or prospects.
With the gender imbalance still firmly in the headlines, it’ll come as no surprise that one of the questions I’m most frequently asked in training sessions is “How can I, as a female, get my voice heard and feel more confident when communicating with my male boss / client?” Women so often ‘shrink to fit’ their environment, dumb down how clever they are and continually undermine their opinions by using fluffy, apologetic language. Think of all those missed opportunities, those senior clients you could have built trusted relationships with, the business you could have won, if only that little girl’s voice inside you hadn’t kicked in and stopped you from speaking with authority and purpose?
It would be easy to point a big, fat finger at those males in senior agency and client positions and even easier to moan about how downtrodden us poor females are, but in truth, we only have ourselves to blame! So next time you find yourself suffering from a bout of ‘little girl syndrome’, try these status-boosting tricks to help you cut through the testosterone and start playing with the big boys:
- Do the power pose – it really works. Before an important meeting or phone-call, stand tall, place your feet firmly on the ground, pull yourself up to your full height and raise your arms in the air in a victory position. You’ll immediately feel more ‘powerful’ and ‘in charge’.
- Get straight to the point – cut out the niceties and stop trying so hard to be liked. Status players respect someone who focuses on task, not relationship.
- Avoid ‘fillers’, trailing off at the end of sentences and fluffy language – these all lower your status. Get comfortable with a pause instead. Take the time to breathe in and out instead of filling the silence with ‘ums’, ‘errs’ or nervous laughter.
- Minimise nodding – work hard at being still. Graceful and attentive stillness, versus frantic head nodding, immediately gives you greater status, authority and credibility.
- Lower the pitch of your voice – up-talking (when the note goes up at the end of a sentence and every statement sounds like a question) immediately lowers your status. Instead, work hard to drop the pitch of your voice at the end of each sentence.
- Don’t overdo it – too much power play can be off-putting, whichever your gender. Try to make sure your natural warmth still shines through and you’ll find you project the right level of authority and gravitas without becoming authoritarian.