Because women are still fighting the headwinds of workplace inequality—and often, their own self-limiting behaviors—learning to recognize and communicate their value is crucial if they want to grow and advance.
Carrie Beckstrom, our CEO, and Live! panelist Eleanor Deal, Tech Lead for Digital Publishing, Office of National Statistics, UK, talked about how self-awareness and self-improvement are the first and best steps to take:
We love the quote Carrie shared from The Confidence Code, which points to our brain’s ability to change and grow throughout a lifetime. It means there’s always the potential to become our own best advocates.
In this blog, we’ll share more insights, stats, strategies, and practical tips to help you learn to better communicate your value. You’ll hear from female executives we’ve interviewed about must-have communication skills for women. Plus, you’ll benefit from advice shared by expert panelists during PowerSpeaking Live! events.
Let’s get started!
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Know Your Value
Communicating your value starts with your own self-awareness and sense of self-worth.
Let’s take job hunting as an example. How courageous are you when it comes to applying for a job or promotion?
The telling statistic Eleanor shared in the earlier video clip is worth repeating:
On average, women will only apply for a job when they feel they meet 95% of the criteria; whereas men are comfortable at 60%.
That’s a pretty significant difference, and it speaks to how women are socialized. But once you become aware of self-limiting behaviors, you can boost your sense of self-worth by doing something about it.
After all, how can you communicate your value if you don’t go for the job or promotion in the first place?
Live! panelist Neema Uthappa, Head of Engineering for Cloud Data Analytics and AI, McKinsey & Company, shared several personal examples of putting a sense of self-worth into action during job interviews:
Learning to communicate your value and potential often takes deep self-reflection. In a different Live! discussion about building your personal brand, panelist Amy Powell, VP of Leader Development at The Marcus Buckingham Company, offered valuable insights into articulating your value:
We love that Amy highlighted the importance of developing your sense of value by discovering the language that best captures who you are, what your strengths are, and how you want to contribute.
Here are some valuable resources to help you on your journey of self-awareness and self-confidence:
Build your confidence in your personal brand: Learn how to identify and articulate your uniqueness, values, and contributions to power your career.
Next, let’s look at more specific strategies . . .
Communicate Your Value
How do you talk about your contributions and value to the organization, a potential client, or a prospective employer?
And beyond what you say, how about what you do? Does your behavior demonstrate confidence?
Let’s take a look at what you can do (and should not do) to communicate your value, whether you’re job hunting or employed.
When it comes to communicating your value, salary is the big, scary one.
But it doesn’t have to be.
Eleanor revealed several strategies for confidently negotiating salary. The context for the conversation was women in STEM careers, but the advice applies to women in any industry:
We appreciate these three key tips:
Ask for the salary range before applying. Women tend to avoid applying for jobs where the salary range isn’t given. Thankfully, more and more states, cities, and localities are requiring employers to include salary information in their job posting; but when this is not the case, Eleanor suggests reaching out to ask. If your request is declined, consider politely making them aware that they might be inadvertently discriminating against groups of people who are hesitant to apply without a stated salary range.
Don’t share your current salary. It’s none of their business, it’s irrelevant, and in some locations, illegal to inquire about salary history. Their salary offer should reflect the market value of the position.
Next, let’s explore more ways to confidently communicate your value.
Build Your Visibility and Credibility On the Job
The way you communicate and behave either builds or detracts from your reputation and impact.
Here are some top tips:
Introduce yourself. When you join a meeting, seize the opportunity to immediately be remembered. Cindy Solomon, author and owner of the Courageous Leadership Institute®, emphasizes the importance of ‘level setting’ when you enter a meeting (in person or virtually):
Contribute! People aren’t mind readers. If you don’t engage in the conversation, share insights, or express your opinion, you won’t be seen or make an impact. Live! panelist Sarah Palmer, PowerSpeaking’s Director of Business Development, EMEA, gave her top tip for getting noticed at work:
BONUS TIP to boost your visibility and impact in meetings: Avoid grabbing a chair against the wall or sitting back from the conference table when entering the meeting room. Sheila Jordan, Chief Digital Technology Officer at Honeywell, advises women:
“If you’ve been invited to a meeting, you’re there for a reason, so . . . Go. Sit. At. The. Table!”
Avoid talk traps. Women often struggle with voice and speaking habits that prevent them from being clear, confident, effective communicators. Cindy urges women to avoid “talk traps” that muddy their message:
“When women put a lot of inconsequential words around their thoughts or their ideas or their opinions, or they hedge, apologize, come up at the end vocally as if they’re asking permission for their opinion or idea . . . all of those things diminish the content because of the delivery.”
Wondering if you’re guilty of falling into talk traps? Imagine this: you arrive on time to a conference room you booked, only to find another group still in deep conversation. Would you confidently assert, “I have this room booked for 10:00, so please wrap up in the next minute"? Or would you commit one of these no-no’s:
Mind your nonverbal signals. Research proves that nonverbal communication has a huge impact on how you’re perceived. So, another way to communicate your value is how you speak through body language.
Soak in these powerful insights and practical tips from women executives to boost your presence:
A few favorite tips:
Slow down. Speaking more slowly and purposefully says, “I deserve this space.”
Make eye contact. It communicates confidence, sincerity, and that you want to connect.
Sit tall and lean in. In a meeting, who would you take more seriously, the person with a confident posture who leans into the conversation, or the one who’s slumped back in their chair, arms crossed?
Clearly, the way we speak and move telegraphs our level of confidence, competency, and potential.
Speaking of potential, there are a few more things to pay attention to if you want to communicate your value to advance your career.
Communicate Your Ambitions
Communicating your value in order to be seen as promotion-worthy means being a proactive self-advocate. And that can mean ditching old behaviors and adopting new ones.
Don't Make the Tea
To advance in the organization, avoid stereotypical roles that could diminish your perceived value to others and your potential for advancement.
Sarah and Live! panelist Karen McDonagh, Transformation Director and Board Member, London Market Joint Ventures, shared some great advice about behaviors to avoid:
As Sarah and Karen pointed out, sometimes we’re simply not aware of innocent behaviors and habits—like Karen’s copious note taking in meetings—that might send the wrong message. So, if you want to advance, pay attention to how people in more senior positions telegraph confidence.
Finally, let’s look at one of the most powerful actions you can take to communicate your value . . .
Ask for What You Want
Here’s a simple, yet crucial truth about advancing within an organization, especially for women: Ask for what you want, or you’ll likely not get it.
Despite their expertise and achievements, sometimes women aren’t considered for promotions because: a) they’re too timid to make their case, and/or b) they assume they shouldn’t have to ask.
Listen to the wise council of these women executives about owning your accomplishments, contributing in meetings, and asking for what you want:
We love Shannon Brayton’s advice:
“I always tell people, no one is going to tap you on the shoulder and say, ‘Hey, it’s time to be promoted!’ You actually need to be the one asking, ‘When is this happening for me, what is the timeline, and what do you need to see from me over the next six months in order for this to happen for me?’”
How’s that for communicating your value?
Final thoughts . . .
Learning from and reaching out to other women is one of the best ways to continually build your sense of self-worth and communicate your value. As Karen advises, “Find your tribe and use them!”
In the spirit of women learning from women, we’d like to share this free e-book, “Circles of Light: Women’s Wisdom.” It’s a priceless collection of insights and tips from female executives we’ve interviewed. Their wisdom covers how women can become more clear, confident, and courageous communicators.
Enjoy, and if you’d like to level up your communication skills with expert training focused on women’s needs, check out our Confident Speaking for Women™ program.