I remember back in my school days (and yes it was a few decades ago!) That I was told to work hard, to push myself to achieve higher results. The expectation seemed to be that I would always score highly in exams and that of course, I wouldn’t let my, teachers and parents, down.
Then I’d be rewarded with praise and validation, which made me want to achieve even more.
What I didn’t know at the time, was that having those high expectations. Whether they were my standards or expectations that I assumed others had of me, they were setting me up to fail.
Nobody can achieve perfect results or even extremely high expectations all the time. We are only human. That means at some point I would fail and experience my own and others disappointment. Something, I wasn’t used to or prepared for.
That doesn’t mean you should stop striving for goals or growing and learning.
It does mean, that the expectations you set yourself need to have a reality check.
It was thought that being a perfectionist drives you to deliver great work and achieve career success up to a certain level. At that point, visibility and confidence are more important and the procrastination and long delivery timescales can hold you back.
Studies have now shown that in fact, perfectionism doesn’t help you in your career at all.
Non-perfectionists can deliver at the same high standard as their detail focused colleagues. In fact, they also do it more productively as they’re not held back by procrastination, a fear of failure or spending extra time crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s.
That means that while you as a perfectionist spend time with your head down at your desk, worrying whether your work is good enough. Colleagues are building relationships, sharing successes and being visible. All the important elements for career progression.
I suggest you start to consider your expectations
Are they realistic, would you expect them of others and do they hold you back?
Ask yourself, what expectations a colleague or boss would have of your job role? Do they need your level of delivery or do you push yourself to that standard to feel secure and validated?
Instead, try setting more realistic goals for yourself, then if you exceed them it’s a bonus. That will give you time and energy to focus on self-promotion and relationship building.
Perfectionism is one of the subjects I cover in my book GOOD ENOUGH – A Career Woman’s Guide To Confidence, Courage and Credibility. It’s available for pre-ordering for the next 21 days only!
The issue of women’s confidence at work has had so much discussion in the last few years.
For example an American report in 2014 said that when women start working for a company, although 43% aspire to be in senior management, only 27% think they have the confidence to do so. After 2 years employment this confidence figure drops to a lowly 13%.
Whereas men start at a similar 28% being confident but after 2 years of experience this rockets to 55% of them believing they have the confidence to reach a senior level job.
So what exactly is this mysterious confidence that reports suggest we lack as women and is it actually important?
Professor Cameron of the University of California who has researched the issue of confidence versus competence says
confident employees are often promoted over those who are more competent, as colleagues and employers mistake their confidence for talent
The result of this is that success is shown to be more closely related to confidence than to competence. This doesn’t mean that to succeed in their career women have to have big egos or stop being authentic. They do have to have self-belief and be able to demonstrate it to their managers though.
A woman’s style of confidence can be very different from a man’s. To ensure others recognise your self-belief, keep your focus on these 3 A’s of confidence building:
Understand your own style of confidence, the situations where it is strong and where it is lacking.
Be aware of how others demonstrate their confidence and which styles you like and could incorporate into your own behaviour.
Identify your core values. This is important as it will give you the confidence to know your own intuition and stick with it.
Recognise that your opinion is as valid and worthwhile as everyone else ’s. This will give you the courage to speak up in situations you may have found tricky
If you can be realistic about your strengths and weaknesses and yet focus on the things you do really well. It will help you maintain a positive and confident mindset
Rather than comparing yourself to others or judging others accept that the important thing is for you to be the best you can be
The most effective behaviour that confident people have is to accept that they make mistakes and they won’t always succeed, yet knowing that they still take action
Accept that others may not know about your successes and contributions. That sharing them in a proactive way is not boastful or bragging
Show yourself self-compassion and love, particularly at the times when things have not gone to plan.
Be grateful for all that you have got and achieved and you will feel calm and confident.
Appreciate your achievements. Don’t put your successes down to good luck or that anyone could have done it.
If you can be aware of and work on these 3 A’s of confidence building, you will be well on the way to demonstrating both your confidence and competence at work.
You may also be interested to know that my 1st book ‘Good Enough – A Career Woman’s Guide To Confidence, Courage and Credibility’ will be available for pre-order from March 15th.
You’ll get the opportunity to preorder it and to read about the strategies and mindset shifts you can apply to your career to ensure you have confidence, courage and credibility at work.
In the meantime, if you’d like to have a chat about your specific career or what confidence-building looks like for you. Then do book a free call in on my online calendar at www.speakwithjo.com
The tradition of making new year resolutions has a well documented history. For example the Babylonians made promises at the start of the year to their gods to pay their debts and return borrowed items.
Today 40 to 50% of us still make them. What I find interesting is that any new resolutions made at the start of the year are 10 times more likely to be achieved than those made at other times of the year.
What are you planning to change this year?
The most common promises that are made at new year are:
To donate to charities more often
Try to become more assertive
Strive to be more environmentally responsible
Improve physical well-being: eat healthy food, lose eight, exercise more, eat better, drink less alcohol, quit smoking, get rid of old bad habits
Improve mental well-being: think positive, laugh more often, enjoy life
Progress career: perform better at current job, get a better job
The most common goals that my clients have are:
Stop worrying what others think
Improve visibility and recognition in their career
Believe in their abilities
Not be held back by self-doubts
Deal with conflict and difficult relationships
Do any of those resonate with you?
I’m a big fan of setting goals and personal development but, do remember that although they’ll give you a short term buzz. They won’t give you the happiness, fulfilment and contentment that you maybe expecting.
Those feelings are already inside you and you don’t need to find anything on the outside to connect with them. Then improving yourself feels light hearted and enjoyable.
I have my own goals around my fitness and business growth this year and know that whatever happens with those goals I’m still okay as the SAME ME!
If one of your goals this year is about improving your confidence in your career or your life and you’d like support to ensure you can achieve your results then do get in touch for a free Discovery Call with me by email or book a call at www.speakwithjo.com
Use This Personality Test For Ideas On Careers, Relationships And Friends
I use a personality test with many of my clients when we are building their self-awareness.
I’ve found it helps them understand more about ‘why they behave like they do’ and gives suggestions of potential careers that would suit them.
The Meyers-Briggs test is a well-known personality test that’s used by a lot of corporate companies. It’s based on Carl Jung’s Four Colour Energies and was developed by the mother and daughter partnership of Katherine Briggs and Isabel Briggs-Meyer.
Like every test the results aren’t completely accurate and you’ll find there are parts of the description that you’ll disagree with.
There are 16 different personality types based on 4 pairs of descriptions and the test aligns you to one of the descriptions in each pair. Making the final description 4 letters long
For example I came out as an ‘Entertainer’ ESFP and after reading the description I could definitely see some of my character traits. Things like; being people and feelings focused and not planning past the now and short-term pleasures.
Then there were other bits I couldn’t totally see in myself though, such as; being utterly social and all the world is my stage??!!
Here’s a simple explanation of the 4 pairs of preferences
People and things (Extraversion or “E”), or ideas and information (Introversion or “I”).
Facts and reality (Sensing or “S”), or possibilities and potential (Intuition or “N”).
Logic and truth (Thinking or “T”), or values and relationships (Feeling or “F”).
A lifestyle that is well-structured (Judgment or “J”), or one that goes with the flow (Perception or “P”).
I’m sure we can all think of someone we know who just seems to ooze confidence. Who seems comfortable in all situations and doesn’t appear to be nervous or self-doubting.
What is it that determines how confident a person is?
Confidence is multifactorial. The biggest influencers on your confidence levels are; your genetics, your upbringing and experiences, and the choices you make.
That means if you choose to take steps out of your comfort zone, if you challenge yourself and see life as a learning process you CAN build your confidence levels.
In the 10+ years I’ve been researching and studying successful and confident women I’ve been able to identify specific behaviours they avoid.
They don’t try to please everyone all the time. Being kind and thoughtful is obviously important. But ignoring your own wants and needs to keep others happy will only knock your self-esteem and confidence. It might feel easier and quicker to say yes but tune into your intuition and identify what you want, feel or need.
They don’t worry about things that are out of their control. Rather than ‘what if’ worrying about the future or being anxious about experiences in the past, which they can’t change. Confident and courageous people focus on the present and on things which are within their circle of influence. Next time you’re in a worry spiral ask yourself can I do anything helpful about this? If not let it go.
They don’t avoid new and challenging opportunities. This doesn’t mean they don’t have self-doubts or feel nervous, everyone does at times. They have the courage though to know whatever happens they can deal with it. Be curious about new opportunities that come up and be brave enough to say yes.
They don’t get stuck on self-pity. Like all of us they do sometimes feel sorry for themselves. However, even when life feels unfair they don’t get stuck in victim mode and keep looking for who or what they can blame. Instead they take responsibility for discovering how they can move forward. Do you feel that life is unfair and it’s not your fault? You might be absolutely right at this moment but don’t let that stop you from looking forward optimistically
They don’t spend time with negative people. Confident women realise how draining these people can be that constantly complain or see the negative side of life. They surround themselves with friends and colleagues who leave them feeling positive and energised. Take the time to reflect on the people you interact with regularly. Are any of them drains rather than radiators? Consider how you can reduce the time you spend around them.
They don’t need others approval. We all like to receive positive feedback sometimes, but confident women have enough self-belief and trust to make their own decisions and stand by them. Ask yourself is your need for approval meaning you put others needs before yours?
That’s a lot to take in and might feel overwhelming so, choose one behaviour you’re going to change and plan one action you can make to help you.
If you’d like to fast track boosting your career confidence ready for 2019 then I have an amazing Career Strategy Intensive Day that is perfect for you.
Work with me for an intensive day and the month following it to transform your career so you feel recognised, valued and rewarded.
Is there never a queue for the women’s toilets in your workplace?
Do you struggle to get your voice heard, often being interrupted or ignored?
Perhaps you miss having a group of females to chat with?
Many of our professional industries such as Engineering, Finance and Tech still have markedly fewer females than males and that get’s even less as you climb the career ladder.
These male dominated cultures bring different challenges with them. When I presented to Amazon UK a couple of weeks ago I was asked:
“How can I get seen and heard when I work with mainly men?”
My answer was… you don’t need to behave like a man to get recognition. But you can alter your communication style and use some strategies to build rapport and respect.
5 Ways To Stand Out In A Male Dominated Workplace :
Talk about facts and solutions – men tend to speak for power and women for warmth. That means that men throw facts at each other to assess each others competence and whether they are trustworthy. When an issue comes up they go into solution mode rather than listening and empathic mode like women. Try putting more facts into your conversations when you’re looking to build an initial impression.
Speak up in meetings even if you’re interrupted – recognise the value of your opinion and believe that what you have to say is worth listening to. If you’re interrupted and want to finish what you were saying, either ask to finish or keep speaking at a louder volume.
Play to your strengths – expertise is particularly important in a male dominated workplace so, don’t be afraid to share yours. Also play to what are known as your stereotypically female strengths. Relationship building and emotional intelligence are a key part of any team.
Practise handling conflict – whilst preventing conflict by being aware of possible situations likely to trigger disagreement is important, you can’t always prevent it. When conflict occurs deal with it immediately by listening to understand the others view point. Then keeping it professional and not personal, being direct and assertive and by not holding a grudge.
Find a mentor/advocate – develop a support network with colleagues in and out of your department, enabling you to offload and share experiences. Also find a senior manager/s who believe in you and develop that relationship. They’ll then be able to offer you advice as well as advocating for your abilities when you’re not in the room.
Do you have any thoughts or suggestions that helped you when working in a largely male environment? Do let me know or comment below.
Wishing you courage and confidence.
P.S. To get some personal support from me on your workplace challenges you can book a FREE call with me on my online calendar here.
Are you someone who works really hard to ensure every detail on a project is ‘right’? Do you hate making a mistake and see it as a failure? Maybe you procrastinate about starting a task in case it’s too difficult and you can’t do it perfectly?
These are some of the traits of perfectionism and most are founded in judgement.
We all have our own set of rules and standards that we expect not just ourselves but sometimes others to adhere to.
When we decide that we haven’t reached the required standard (usually an impossible 100%) out will come the judge and jury and we’ll be found guilty of making mistakes and not being good enough.
This harsh self-judgement results in us trying to control external factors over which we have little or no control. In fact, as a result, those factors get to control us instead!
No wonder we feel stressed, anxious and that our enjoyment and fulfilment of life is limited.
It is possible to free yourself from the rules and unrealistic expectations that drive your perfectionism
Try these 3 steps to help ease the perfectionist pressure (and don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t work perfectly!)
Drop the judgement – rather than your perfectionist traits being something ‘wrong’ with you. Focus on how they have given you the drive and motivation to achieve all you have.
Use this drive to empower you to continue achieving, but without the limitation of rules and standards. Be curious about what success you might have.
Be authentic – take the spotlight off being perfect and instead turn it on to being you. What do you value, what would success mean to you, what does a ‘better but not perfect you’ look like?
Stop judging others – When we are harsh judges of ourselves we generally are tough on others too. Look at others with curiosity and compassion instead and you’ll find you naturally see yourself in the same way.
By losing the judgement and having curiosity and compassion instead, life feels less of a battle.
If you’d like to explore your perfectionist challenges or get some free resources then I’d love to hear from you. Just reply to this email or book a free call with me at www.speakwithjo.com
What’s your childhood experience of taking criticism?
Think back, do any of these sound like situations you were criticised in?
Shouted at for breaking something or making a mess
Laughed at for not ‘being cool’ or not achieving at school
Labelled on your school report as lazy or disruptive
Undermined for your ideas and dreams
These first experiences of negative feedback can really affect how we take criticism in the future.
I remember my older brother (by 5 years) being really told off several times by my Dad. That memory was enough to make me desperately want to avoid being shouted at by him and to not take criticism well all my life.
We often interpret criticism as being a rejection of us as a person rather than a criticism of a particular behaviour or action.
Or we may think we’re being personally labelled rather than being given feedback on our behaviour. For example; being criticised for not delivering on time comes over as ‘you’re not good enough and you’re disorganised’ rather than what you did was not good enough and disorganised.
How do you react to criticism?
Get angry and defensively argue back, do you feel the need to be right or to get your own back?
Think it’s unfair and that you’re always being blamed, but rather than arguing back, act as if you’ve taken it on board? Then later subtly let your anger out in little comments and barbs
Agree that you’re at fault and apologise profusely, whilst feeling you can’t help it if you’re not good enough
You may use some or all of these approaches and the key thing to notice is that in all of them the person doesn’t appear to have really listened and clarified what the criticism is really about.
4 Secrets to Taking Criticism Confidently
Listen carefully to determine whether you believe the criticism is fair and true,. Ask clarifying questions if necessary.to make your decision
Agree with the criticism, for example; “yes I did make a mess of that piece of work”. But try, to avoid over apologising or promising to radically change. Instead, think about how you could together negotiate a change. “I agree that I should have spoken up for you in that meeting, how could we ensure I feel comfortable to do it next time?”
When the criticism is untrue it becomes more tricky as there’re our memories of when we were a child and couldn’t speak up reinforcing our feelings. Plus if you’ve left criticism unchallenged in other situations then that is there too. Again the first step is to listen and clarify what is being said
If you feel unfairly criticised then it’s important to speak up rather than accept the criticism and feel resentful. You can do this with phrases like:
I really must disagree with you, that wasn’t my responsibility, so lets discuss where the problems came from
I’m really surprised you think that, can you explain how you got that impression?
Even if the criticism you receive is badly given, unjustified or given with a negative intention. You can still respond in an effective way, which allows you to speak up for yourself and maintain your relationship with the other person.
Criticism is a sensitive subject for most people and if you struggle to assert yourself when you receive it, do contact me for some support. You can book a free call at www.speakwithjo.
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When a client says “I need help with being more assertive” I’m always interested to find out about their current communication style.
Because what I’ve found is that we generally fall into one of four different communication behaviours.
I’ve given each communication style a descriptive name – which one/s do you resonate with?
She’s highly competitive and needs to prove her superiority
She over reacts verbally and possibly physically
She doesn’t realise how intimidating she is as people resent her but don’t usually speak up to her
She’s very passive and rather than speak up will opt out, avoid or run away when she’s uncomfortable
She has a victim mindset blaming others and situations rather than taking responsibility for her choices and decisions
She puts herself down and can be draining to others
She doesn’t speak up but is aggressive indirectly
She needs to control others and plays on their guilt to avoid rejection
She seems very nice but you can soon feel uncomfortable around her
She respects both herself and others
She accepts her strengths and weaknesses and takes responsibility for her actions
She’s not reliant on others approval so responds authentically
Do you recognise yourself and others in these descriptions?
To demonstrate how the different personalities might behave in a situation here’s an example:
Imagine you’ve come home late from a long day at work. Everyone’s at home, your husbands on the sofa watching tv and your kids are absorbed in various devices. The kitchen’s a mess and the tea hasn’t been started yet. How would you react?
Aggressive Amy – would blow her top shouting about how unfair it is and how lazy they are. She’d refuse to make tea and everyone would be upset and angry
Doormat Dawn – wouldn’t say anything but would mutter to herself about how they always take her for granted. Then she’d clear up and make the tea feeling like a martyr and swallowing her resentment
Manipulative Mary – also wouldn’t speak up but would show her anger indirectly through body language and slamming things. She’d clear up and make tea, either very simply or very late
Assertive Amy – would speak up calmly and firmly about how she felt and ask specifically for the help that she needed from them all
Can you see how the first three caused conflict and resentment but also didn’t actually ask for any help?
Amy’s assertive response, however, was to say how she felt, without blaming and to give specific details of what she’d like to happen.
It’s quite normal to move from one style to another in different situations. However, the Assertive Amy communication style is the most likely to avoid conflict and resentment and maintain a good relationship.
If you’d like to find out more about being assertive and communicating with confidence. Then just reply to this email or book a free Discovery Call with me at www.speakwithjo.com
Live confidently and courageously,
Background credit to Anne Dickson ‘A Woman In Her Own Right’
I work with both career women and entrepreneurs and almost all of them tell me they have a fear of failure.
The source of the fear does vary such as “I might appear stupid” or “I’m not good enough”. But for both groups of women, the feeling can be paralysing and cause procrastination.
That can then lead to us playing small, not moving out of our comfort zones and not taking up new opportunities.
If you’d like to conquer your fear of failure then I have 4 proven secrets to share with you.
Stop running films in your head.
This type of thinking is known as ‘what if’ thinking. When we play films in our mind about the possible catastrophes that could happen. The mind doesn’t distinguish between reality and our thinking.
The mind doesn’t distinguish between reality and our thinking. Instead, decide if there is anything you can do to prevent the worst possibilities. If not then let go of the film because it’s out of your control. Distract yourself or focus on what are the positives that could happen.
Surprisingly the students asked to be positive about the week had less energy and achieved less during the week than the control group.
This demonstrates that just thinking positively isn’t enough to achieve the outcomes we want. Research has shown that the best outcomes are created when we balance positive thinking with visualising the future obstacles and struggles we will encounter.
Have a go at visualising a situation in which you are afraid of failure. Imagine yourself now hitting an obstacle, allow yourself to feel the fear, and then see yourself carrying on anyway. Finally think about how you could overcome these obstacles, then see yourself succeeding despite these obstacles.
Separate Yourself From The Failure
When you’ve failed in the past, did you make it about you or the situation? It’s important to take responsibility for our actions, but that doesn’t mean we are the failure. It’s much healthier if you can separate you and your beliefs about yourself from what actually happened.
For example, making a mistake in a project doesn’t mean you’re stupid or not good enough. It just means you made a mistake and can learn from the mistake next time.
Feel The Fear (And Do It AnyWay!)
Even if you use the 2 secrets above you may still have the feeling of fear and because we don’t like to feel uncomfortable it can stop us moving forward.
Rather than doing something to get rid of the feeling, try sitting quietly with the sensations and deep breathing. Or imagine you’re sitting outside yourself observing what you’re doing. Then you’ll find the feeling dissipates by itself and the bodies natural calm returns.
Having realised that the fear is transitory you’ll feel more confident to take action next time.