Published today on the Downtown Women’s Club blog:
While there’s no doubt in my mind that men and women are created equal, I am equally sure that they are created different—after all, a cup of flour and a cup of sugar are equal in amount but have very different properties.
With this in mind, I offer the following female-oriented career advice:
1. Because women have naturally higher voices, it’s particularly important to ensure we’re speaking from our diaphragms, as a lower voice projects far greater authority. To check if you are, place your hand on your abdomen while you speak. If you’re hand’s not moving in and out as you talk, your diaphragm’s not engaged. An easy way to practice engaging it is to lie on the floor with a heavy book on your stomach and breathe deeply until the book is moving up and down. When you stand up, your voice will have dropped about an octave.
2. I want everyone—male or female– to be aware of how they are taking up space. In my experience, men tend to take up more space—leaning back in their chairs, interlacing their fingers behind their head, spreading their knees apart– while women often make ourselves smaller—shrinking back in our chairs, folding our hands in our laps, crossing our legs. With this in mind, consider others’ posture and attitudes in your next meeting. Then consider your own. If you’re sitting back with your hands in your lap while others are leaning forward, move to the front of your seat, sit up very straight, lean in, and place your hands flat on the table to indicate accessibility.
3. Listening without interrupting is a vastly underrated skill set– and interruptions come in many forms. As women, we often interrupt by agreeing and encouraging—saying things along the lines of “Exactly!” “Of course!” or“I know what you mean!” The trouble with this is that it has the potential to interrupt others’ thought patterns. What can you do instead? Practice signaling your encouragement and agreement via non-verbal techniques: by leaning in, nodding your head, and smiling.
Frances Cole Jones is the President of Cole Media Management and author of “How to Wow: Proven Strategies for Selling Your (Brilliant) Self in any Situation” and “The Wow Factor: The 33 Things You Must (and Must Not) Do to Guarantee Your Edge in Today’s Business World.” She also has an App for the iPhone/iPad called “Interview Wow” You can send her a note at www.thewowfactor-thebook.com.