Women have it harder than men when it comes to getting ahead in their careers. The term “glass ceiling” exists for a reason. Many times, the problem is sexual discrimination – whether purposeful or unintentional. However, women can unintentionally derail their own careers. Let’s look at 4 ways you might be unconsciously sabotaging your career.
#1 Not sitting at the table
In many workplaces large meetings are scheduled in a conference room that has a table. Additional chairs are placed around the wall of the room. The expectation is that key players will sit at the table. Attendees who come to “listen in” will take to the chairs on the perimeter.
Have you ever been a presenter who showed up to such a meeting room, but took a chair off to the side? You just told all your coworkers that you don’t think you are important. Why should they think differently? Next time, strive to be early and position yourself confidently at the table.
#2 Not taking up space
Watch the successful men in your company. They take up space – a lot of it. When they sit or stand, they spread their legs apart. They make broad gestures at key points. When sitting they often lean back, throwing their arm across the back of their chair or the chair next to them.
Now watch the women. The fold their arms across their chests. They cross their legs when they sit (and sometimes while standing). It’s like the women are afraid they are bothering everyone by taking up room.
It will take time, but work on developing a more open body language. Perhaps you start by kicking the habit of folding your arms across your chest. Then you move on to making confident, controlled gestures at key points during discussions.
#3 Having office friendships
You should absolutely be friendly in the office. The talents, skills, and interests that brought you to the office might lead to close friendships with like-minded people at work. You gain a friend and a powerful ally at work – it seems like a win-win.
However, in some offices managers are unlikely to promote people who are friends with their coworkers. If you get promoted above your friends, will you be able to be impartial? Will they respect you?
If you do find that you are close friends with a coworker, do your best to keep your friendship under wraps at work. Keep conversations at work geared toward professional topics. Skip discussions about after work plans – use text or instant messages to coordinate during office hours.
#4 Never saying “no”
Are you the office lackey? Does your boss pile your plate high with tasks while your coworkers are surfing the internet all day?
This is likely a compliment. Your boss trusts you to get things done. However, the workload isn’t balanced. When it comes time to promote someone, your boss might be hesitant to promote you. After all, nothing will get done without you!
The next time your boss gives you a new assignment, suggest someone else who can handle it – or ask to offload an existing task to a coworker. This seems counterintuitive at first, but shows you understand how to delegate and prioritize. These are important skills for moving up the ladder.
Which of the above is the hardest habit for you to break?
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