Personal Power for Women

Personal power depends on your ability to feel confident and control the situation regardless of the sex of the person with whom you are doing business. These tips will help you to be respected as a serious businessperson.
  • Physical appearance makes a difference. Save your fussy or frilly clothing for activities not related to business. If you want to be taken seriously - dress for it.
  • Be prepared and organized. When in a business meeting, know your material, have it organized and stick to your guns. Statistically women allow themselves to be interrupted 50% more often than men. Make sure the language you use when making a point is strong and direct.
  • Don't overuse hand gestures. Men habitually use less body language. Overuse of hand gestures can detract from what you're saying. Practice speaking with less body language until it becomes a habit.
  • Don't flirt. Your are a businessperson in a business situation. Act like it. Keep to the business at hand.
  • Keep your sense of humor. A sense of humor will help you through some potentially uncomfortable situations. Relax and those you're working with will relax also.
  • Don't try to be "one of the boys". If any language or conversation offends you, speak up and say so. You'll gain more respect than if you try to join in so as not to appear "different".
  • Depersonalize what men say or do around you. Don't take everything that happens as personal. If you act natural they will get the message and do the same.
  • Don't bare your soul about your personal life. Men don't normally have highly personal conversations. They get very uncomfortable, and you're putting yourself in a vulnerable position.
  • Don't feel that you have to like someone to get the job done. The stereotypical woman tends to deal in personalities rather than productivity. Overcome this trait and concentrate on getting the job done by the person best able to handle it.
  • Don't be afraid to ask questions or seek advice. You will be respected and appreciated more as a professional if you admit that, like everyone else, you don't have all the answers. Asking questions is NOT a sign of weakness.
Incorporating five factors into your life can develop personal power: confidence, decisiveness, control, skills and awareness. As you work to build these habits you'll find your power growing and enjoy a sense of achievement and satisfaction.

Confidence is the image you want to portray. Even though you may not feel confident, by paying attention to certain key behaviors no one will ever know. These are what you need to watch for.

  • Eye contact. Good eye contact says you mean business and sends a very powerful message. When you make a statement, a request, or say "no" to a request, you absolutely must look the person directly in the eyes.
  • Posture. Stand tall and give the impression of power. You don't have to BE tall to give the appearance of height.
  • Body movements and gestures. Make sure that any body movements or gestures add to, and don't detract from, your message. Avoid using phrases such as "Don't you think?", "I might be wrong, butů". These make you sound unsure and in need of help.
  • Breath and voice. Breathe fully and deeply and pay close attention to the quality of your voice. A too soft or unsteady voice gives the impression of being insecure.
  • Decisiveness. Every professional must make decisions, which at times may be difficult or unpopular. By making the proper decision you may not be liked, but you will be respected. You must be ready for this trade-off.
  • Control. There are two types of control: One is self-control, where you will not act out anger, but will carefully consider actions and make the appropriate response. The other is influence over others. If positive, this will motivate and encourage. If negative, you will be manipulative and overpowering causing others to feel discouraged, frustrated and alienated.
  • Skills. Personal power skills give you the ability to:
  • Listen
  • Speak clearly and directly
  • Have verbal and non-verbal congruence
  • Set limits
  • Make requests
  • Manage conflict
  • Negotiate properly
  • Motivate
Awareness. There are two kinds of awareness; personal and political. Personal allows you to question each day how you are doing and if you can improve in any way. Political asks you to question who the leaders are in your organization and how you can aim for success through affiliation.

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Barbara Killmeyer
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