woman leading a meeting

Are You Being Taken Seriously at Work?

In a recent article entitled Three Surprising Insights – an Events management article – women felt they are not being taken seriously on the job. 

Women feel they aren’t being taken seriously: An astounding 20 percent of respondents indicated they felt their work isn’t taken seriously. “I think there’s still a tendency for people to look at women as the administrative staff instead of show management,” wrote one respondent. “On occasion you still get, ‘Can I talk to the show manager?’ asked with an undertone of ‘Who is the MAN in charge?’”

Another wrote, “Some men and some women will treat you as less than a professional. Often times executives will assume that your role at the event is to serve the food or beverages.”

In another article about Women in Business – Who do We Take Seriously, “Meghan Casserly accurately points out that devaluing the feminine is hardly a new thing; the same happened when women began to move into legal and medical fields in huge numbers. All of a sudden, areas like gynecology or family law were seen as “soft” fields because they were associated with women. She breaks it down pretty concisely:

            “Feminine = Soft/Bad/Stupid/Shallow/Underachieving/Embarrassing??”

I hope you are cringing. 

Do you struggle to be taken seriously? When attending a meeting, do you find your role to be relegated to coffee-pourer and note taker? Are your comments listened to or do you feel dismissed?  Let’s examine a few ways we can change this perception.

It starts with our physical appearance; no, not your hair or makeup – your  posture. In an article from Business Insider offering 7 tips to be taken more seriously, posture is one of the important suggestions.

In a recent survey, 85% of 700 professionals said upspeak is a sign of insecurity, while 57% think that upspeak makes people sound less credible.  

Keep your posture open and upright. 

Posture can influence the way others see you and the way you feel. Researchers have found that keeping your shoulders open and arms wide — a classic power pose — activates your hormone system in a way that makes you feel and look more confident and capable. 

The same logic carries over to the way you sit. If you’re scrunched over your laptop, you won’t feel very bold, but if you’re sitting at a large desk, you’ll feel more assertive. 

“If you take an expansive pose, it can actually lead to power,” MIT professor Andy Yap tells Business Insider

Great advice from Pepperdine University in their article entitled How to Get Taken More Seriously refers to our mindset prior to entering a work situation and/or meeting:

“The biggest saboteur for most people is not a plot by others to hold you down, but rather your own thinking about your right to be a leader,” says business coach and author Pamela Slim. “Be conscious of your thoughts. If you walk into a meeting thinking ‘I hope they take me seriously,’ you are already losing the battle. Think ‘I am ready to be here. I deserve to be here. I am excited about sharing ideas with my peers’ and watch your influence grow.”

Executive management consultant Moira Lethbridge recommends a strategy called interrogative self-talk. “Instead of pumping yourself up emotionally, “YES I CAN DO THIS!!” ask yourself, ‘Can I do this?’ and write fives specific answers to confirm the reasons why you can,” she says. The reasons are reminders that will help reinforce a more substantive response—both internally and externally.

So, don’t just prepare for a meeting by understanding the agenda and the topics on the table- prepare your mindset as well.

Starting with the right mindset is a great way to start the day. Check out how Jessica starts her day each morning:

Be prepared. It isn’t only the Boy Scout motto, it just makes good sense. 

Before attending a meeting make sure you’ve read over the materials and have a clear understanding of the topic at hand and perhaps both sides of any issues that might arise. 

Take notes in advance. Write down any suggestions, solutions or additional questions you might have. 

Come to the meeting with just the materials you will need. Leave the purse back at your desk. The more baggage you bring, the less organized and focused on the topic you will appear. Just bring:

  • A writing implement
  • Pad of paper (this will also have your notes and questions)
  • Printed agenda or advanced documents that were provided

Or you can go “new school” and just come with a tablet – all pertinent files uploaded and easily accessed.

Are you being taken seriously at work? If the answer is no – examine why that might be and then set in motion a few subtle changes that will begin to turn the tide. Chances are your biggest stumbling block is your old self confidence so give little Jessica’s affirmation talk a try!