The Truths Every Female Needs to Hear, Part I

ColetteCarlson2Women tend to look at themselves in the mirror and think, “Today is not a good hair day.” (Yes, some women actually begin the day with a personal put down! I just may be speaking from personal experience.) When someone offers us a compliment, we downplay it. For example, someone might say to me, “I love your scarf.” I might respond, “This old thing? I got it on clearance last year for $9.99.” Sound familiar?

The truth is that every woman has incredible strengths, said motivational speaker and author Colette Carlson as she addressed a group of about 300 U.S. farm women, who gathered Dec. 5 in Chicago for the 4th annual Executive Women in Ag conference.

“Learn to express your success” is one “truth” Carlson shared during her breakout session entitled, “3 Truths Female Business Leaders Need to Know.” Start playing to your strengths by taking three relatively simple steps:

  1. ExpressYourselfMilk a compliment. Humbly accept kind words rather than diluting a compliment. When you devalue a compliment, you send the message that you either aren’t confident in your work or that you don’t respect the opinion of the person who gave you the praise. Learn 7 ways to accept compliments graciously – and then make the most of them!
  2. Be a human highlighter. It’s much easier to compliment someone else; highlight the accomplishments of a professional ally, who will in turn, make others aware of your achievements. If you’re a business leader, be sure to champion the strengths of every individual on your team, advises Carlson.
  3. Talk yourself into, rather than out of, opportunities. Studies show that women’s lack of confidence consistently holds them back. Whether speaking your truth, delivering a presentation, requesting a promotion, or undertaking some other fear-inducing endeavor, Carlson says confidence is the catalyst propelling us forward.

Clear and direct communication is necessary whether we’re dealing with customers, employers or employees. Employees stay more engaged in work environments with sincere communication and clear expectations.However, when women are too direct, Carlson says it’s mistaken for arrogance. When they’re too succinct, they sound abrupt.

To avoid sounding *itchy, match your tone and body language to the words you’re saying. Carlson demonstrated this by asking the ladies in her #EWA14 workshop to say the word “oh.” This simple two-letter word can convey a host of meanings, depending on tone: curiosity, understanding, disappointment, surprise and affection.

The same hold true when saying “no.” The meaning of this two-letter word also takes on different meanings depending on the tone used. Quite honestly, I have a hard time saying “no” because I don’t want to disappoint anyone. (After all, I grew up providing customer service and made a living providing client service!) But as Carlson points out, we don’t have to be mean when we’re saying what we mean. It’s all about the words we chose and the tone we use, so I’m going to practice saying “no” with clarity.

Saying “yes” all the time can be a career-limiting factor, adds Carlson. Plus saying “yes” adds to our stress levels. This holiday season – and all year long – I’m resolving to practice ways that take off stress. If this sounds like something you want to try, be sure to read Part II of my “The Truths Every Female Needs to Hear” series where I explain how (and why) “No is your password to the next level.

P.S. My husband and children had been watch out because I’m “getting my ask in order” as Colette Carlson would say!

Colette Carlson, CSP,