How many times have you looked back on life situations and noticed that everything in your past can be seen through a crystal clear lens, including those painful yet powerful lessons learned? As a career coach who specializes in working with women, I’ve seen this is especially true for professional woman in the workplace. While every woman’s needs and wiring is different, there have been a few key lessons I have learned from my journey that apply to all.
Many of my insights have come from hindsight analysis of my own mistakes. These moments of error-turned-clarity were powerful lessons for me, and I hope to empower you by teaching you the 3 most important things every woman should know in the workplace.
1. Know your worth, and know when to walk away.
Have you ever seen the pushover at work? The person everyone constantly dumps extra work on who is always saying “yes” (whether they like it or not)? Inherently, coworkers and bosses know this person does not know their worth, and, unfortunately, they take advantage of them. You don’t have to be this person. You can be confident and savvy and successful, but it starts with knowing your value.
You—yes, you, reading this—are valuable! Out of 3.5 billion women in the world, there is no one else like you. You have something unique and divine to offer. So why do you question your value? I could go on and on about that, but the bottom line is this: It’s necessary to like and love yourself in spite of insecurities to be immensely successful.
I must confess, there was a time when I was younger and didn’t know my worth. I was 22, working as a career trainer, and my boss was the rudest and most insecure woman I’d ever met. She selected women younger than her to pick on as they joined the company. I was one of her culprits. She talked down to me, complained about everything I did, and gave me more work than my co-workers. She enjoyed seeing me stressed, and because I didn’t know my worth, I had no clue where to draw the line.
Eventually, it went too far and led to me having workplace anxiety and fainting spells. One day, my chest was hurting at work, and I knew it was time to go, so I quit. This was one of my greatest lessons: listen to your body and love yourself enough to know when it’s time to leave! This lesson gave me so much wisdom to impart on my clients who are unhappy but afraid to make a leap of faith. As one of my favorite quotes by Julia Cameron says,
“Leap and the net will appear.” Mine appeared and I’m glad it did. More importantly, it taught me to love myself along the way.
2. Know how to ask for a raise.
There will come a time when you will want more money. Period point blank. Inflation is an issue! Let’s be honest, how will you get more money or what you feel you should earn if you are afraid to ask? You won’t! So don’t be afraid to ask for a raise.
I’m convinced one of the reasons women make less than men in many cases is because they don’t have the confidence to ask. The worst thing that can happen is that you receive a “no.” (That’s not so bad, let’s be honest). You have everything to gain if you get the raise, and even if you don’t, it will be good practice for the next time around.
One of my greatest successes as a coach was getting a client $20,000 more per year and a job 15 minutes away from home (as opposed to an hour-and-a-half commute). She had to go elsewhere to get what she wanted, but it started with me helping her understand what she was worth and how to ask for it.
3. Know when to speak up.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with voicing your ideas and opinions, because you matter. So many women are scared to reveal their true feelings out of fear of judgment or the thought that they aren’t enough. Well I’m here to tell you: YOU’RE MORE THAN ENOUGH! You’re actually pretty darn fabulous, and if you don’t say what that small voice is telling you to say, others won’t be able to grow and learn from you (not to mention, you will stunt your own growth).
If you are in a brainstorming session, it’s the perfect opportunity to share an idea you think could benefit your company and position. If you are in a meeting, interject and share if you can think of a more effective way of doing something. Employers love people with creative solutions, and more importantly, you will love yourself more for speaking up!
Looking for more boosts of inspiration? Check out InHerSight’s blog for empowering stories from working women in the community.
Sarah E. Williams is a Career Counselor and Certified Resume Writer who specializes in working with women and tech/engineering professionals looking to make a career transition. When she's not helping women achieve success and experience self-worth, Sarah can be found traveling, interior decorating & enjoying time with her four year old daughter!