Confession Time (or Career Advice for the Modest Woman)

I attributed this to Rosie, a lovely illustrator, but it’s not actually hers so if you know who drew this do let me know!


I have a confession to make.

I flippin’ hate selling.

There, I’ve said it. It’s just not my thing. I prevaricate like mad, even to the extent of doing housework instead. The old ‘spam messages’ start kicking in. I feel like I’m showing off, (major crime for girls when I was growing up – don’t get ‘above yourself’). My negative head tapes say there are loads of people who can do what I do better than me, I think that people will think I am big headed, unlikeable… the list goes on. You can probably add to it because you have probably done it yourself.. But, and a big BUT is coming, that said, I have an absolute passion for developing women, for making women feel more confident (I know, bit ironic, innit?), for seeing more women in positions of power, more women getting equal pay with their male counterparts, a more equitable and fairer world. I have to sell myself or no one will know about what I do and I won’t play my part in changing the world!

You have to do it, too. You have to let people know about your skills, your attributes and your experience. If you want to progress, to get the next job, start your own business, be a voice that is heard, you have to let people know about you and what you do. Sometimes you can get by with people just noticing you ‘by accident’, like I did when I first started Changing People. People knew my work from my previous career and sought me out. That may happen for you. It may… But to have some control in your career you need to get comfortable with owning your wonderfulness.

You must own your talent

Generally speaking we women are not so happy with selling ourselves, owning our talent. Recruiters will tell you that women undersell themselves, I know it from my own days of interviewing for jobs. Men oversell themselves, generally, women do the opposite. When challenged as to why why so few women were featuring on their radio news, a BBC producer told me that women say ‘no’ more than men, men will say yes, even if they don’t know much about the subject. So they ring up the men first. Is it a good thing that men are happy to talk on topics they don’t know much about and women aren’t? I’ll leave that for you to decide. As it happens, I was asked to appear on a BBC Radio 4 flagship news programme but I found myself saying no. They wanted to set me up in an argument with another woman, basically dissing a woman in the public eye for making a mistake. I just couldn’t do it. That adversarial style in the media is also why women often say no. (Check out this post for more on the topic.)

Why do women undersell themselves?

Cartoon from 1970s

The reasons are many and varied. It goes back to how both genders are socialised, our early experiences, how women and girls are presented to us in the media, the scorn poured upon successful, outspoken women. Not just scorn, but hostility, and downright threats. Women should not ‘get above themselves’. I was always frequently being told off for not being ‘ladylike’ and showing off was definitely not ladylike. I don’t recall either of my two brothers being told that. I used to think it might be a generational thing, surely it doesn’t happen now? Then I watched the BBC programme on how differently boys and girls are taught in schools, how a perfectly lovely teacher was unwittingly (unconscious bias) treating the boys and girls differently. It showed how the boys had a superabundance of confidence (in general) and how the girls had very little. They saw themselves, aged 7, as inferior to the boys. In 2017! (see here for more on that here Boys and Girls and Gender Stereotyping.)

So, Sell Yourself!

On one of my courses I ask women to list 10 positive traits about themselves. Try it now. How quickly can you do it? If you’re having no trouble at all, well done. Most likely you managed three or four quite quickly then metaphorically began chewing the end of your pencil. Take a bit more time and get those ten written down. Look at them. Look at your list every day, repeat them to yourself out loud. Know that you are much more wonderful than you ever give yourself credit for. Be wonderful! The world needs many more wonderful women. Own your wonderfulness!

OK, now my bit of selling. I have overcome my reticence to tell you I have two WONDERFUL seminars for women coming up in Bristol this Spring!

The first one is on March 6th and is called Understanding Menglish (or communication differences between men and women). Details are here.

The second is on April 17th and is called Women, Be Yourself AND Communicate Effectively. Details are here.

And if you book both at the same time you get a coaching session with me, too!

How did I do? ;>)


P.S. Both these seminars are in Bristol but we can deliver them in house, at events, etcetera.


Posted on January 23rd, 2018 by

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