No matter who you are, you probably want to be taken seriously in the office. After all, you know you have valuable insights and contributions to offer, and you want them to be listened to with the respect and attention that you deserve.
However, you can’t just expect to command the room’s attention just by simply opening your mouth. Respect is something that’s earned, not just given—particularly if you’re a woman in a male-dominated field.
This is exactly where this week’s “Dear Kat” question comes into play:
“Dear Kat, I know the importance of speaking up and making my voice heard in team meetings. But, here’s the problem: Whenever I share an idea or a suggestion, I can tell nobody really gives it any serious consideration. Do you have any tips to help me be taken more seriously at work?”
Well, you already have the first step conquered: Realizing that if you want to be taken seriously, it’s up to you to make that happen. It’s easy to blame a lack of respect and attention on other people (and, sometimes that’s justified). But, when it comes to commanding respect, the ball is largely in your court. Here are a few tips that will help!
1. Have Confidence
First comes the most important part: Proving that you’re worthy of respect. Easier said than done, right? However, all this really involves is taking a deep breath before you start speaking so that you can communicate clearly and with confidence.
Combine that with the other tips below and you’re sure to command the attention of the room. Respect yourself, and others will be much more likely to follow suit.
2. Avoid Qualifiers
“This is probably a bad idea, but…”
Have you started a suggestion with a phrase like that before? We all have. But, all you’re really accomplishing is shooting down your own idea before you even pitch it.
Whether you have the tendency to say things like, “I’m no expert…” or even, “This might be crazy…” before making a suggestion, make your best effort to cut out the qualifiers. If you don’t have confidence in your own ideas, how can you expect others to?
3. Make Eye Contact
Think of the last time you were engaged in a conversation with someone, and he or she seemed to be talking directly to the floor. Did you give serious consideration to what that person was saying? Did you value his or her insights? Or, did you write him or her off as unconfident and perhaps even incompetent?
Eye contact is so important in conversations. It displays a high level of confidence, and also sends the message that you’re engaged in the discussion. So, as uncomfortable as it might make you feel at first, maintain eye contact with your conversational partner. It can make all the difference!
4. Accept Compliments
Somebody compliments you on the piece of the project you completed. Instead of graciously accepting that praise, you refute it with a comment like, “Oh, it was nothing!” or even, “Ugh, I wish it had turned out better!”
I can understand your efforts to avoid looking like an egomaniac. But, you don’t need to flat out argue with people’s compliments in order to do so.
Instead, thank them for their recognition and then pay a genuine compliment in return. There’s really no point in disagreeing with someone’s praise, and it’ll ultimately only make you look even more insecure.
5. Beware the Pitch of Your Voice
Women in particular have the tendency to raise the pitch of their voices at the end of the sentences—making them sound as if they’re asking a question, rather than making a statement.
It often happens totally subconsciously. But, challenge yourself to pay attention to how you’re speaking. Avoiding the trap of raising the pitch of your voice will make you sound that much more confident when making an assertion—resulting in a greater amount of respect from your colleagues.
6. Stand Up for Yourself
While most people demonstrate a certain level of common courtesy in the workplace, occasionally you’ll come across someone who’s nothing short of condescending and blatantly rude.
In certain situations, you might determine that the best thing to do is just let it go. But, if you’re being repeatedly disrespected? Don’t hesitate to stand up for yourself. Nobody deserves to be offended, insulted, or put down in the office. And, if you are? Speaking up is a surefire way to command the treatment you deserve.
Everybody wants to be taken seriously. But, it’s not something that’s going to happen by closing your eyes and clicking your heels together. Use these six key tips, and you’re much more likely to make your voice and your ideas heard.