How to be taken seriously as a professional

Guest article by Belinda Bow, founder of Green Chilli Marketing

Being taken seriously as a professional is often assumed as a given - it certainly was by me. I mean, I’ve studied, I’ve got loads of experience, I always operate professionally and I know my stuff, so being a professional should be accepted. The crazy thing is that it’s not always the case and it isn’t even always gender related either.

As a woman, if you are a business owner or are in a senior position at your job, you might come across the occasional person who does not take you seriously, especially if you’re a mum:
* “It must be great to earn a little money on the side for yourself, but who will take care of your children?”
* “Do you want me to explain what we were just discussing?”
* “Are you sure you have enough experience for this project?”
* “Sarah, I didn’t put your name down for that project because I’m sure you have your hands full at home and don’t want the extra responsibility.”
* And if you work from home, “We’ll just call in to see you, it will be fine”

Some women respond by overcompensating with masculine energy, a nasty or ruthless drive, a robotic performance or trying to morph into a man or pretending apologising for being a mum. But here’s the thing, you can’t change people and their comments. What you can do is change your focus and your response.

Change your focus
Instead of being someone you’re not, try focusing on how you see yourself, rather than what others are saying or doing.

Remember that investing in the naysayers and their dialogue takes energy - energy that could be used more effectively elsewhere. Step back and focus on your own values, your own strengths and keep driving toward your goals without looking back or buying into a conversation that has the potential to knock you backwards.

Put the wind back in your sails
When you feel as though you are being judged, it’s tough to come back from it and pick yourself up and keep going. But some basic strategies can really help put things into perspective:

Respond accordingly: Determining where the comment sits is important. You can choose to respond or not. As adults we sometimes respond too quickly and don't consider the big picture - just think of how you would suggest a child respond to comments. It can help to give you the perspective you need. Certainly, if their comments are hindering your work or work opportunities, they should be addressed. For example, you can say things like: “It’s disappointing that you feel that way.” “Is there a reason for your comments?” “Is that relevant?” “Did you need to discuss something with me privately?”

Change your self-talk: Changing the way you talk to yourself can bring you out of a slump quickly. Rather than thinking: “I’m not worth it,” or “Why would they say that?”, change the messages to: “Does it matter in the big picture?” “Does giving energy to those comments serve me?”.

Focus on your goals: Print your goals out, have them on your phone or even within an email. Then when these moment happen, read your goals. Take a moment to really focus on where you are headed – this brings back your energy and your focus.

Get motivated: I know, I know, we’ve all heard this, but building a list of motivational quotes that you go to when the chips are down, really works. They might include family quotes, business quotes or just a ‘you got this’ quote. Make sure the quotes are only ones that you resonate with. I can’t tell you how much this has helped me.

Stop and listen. Take time out to hear what is said, then make a choice: are you going to take this on board or are you going to take action to move away from it, both physically and mentally? Once you make a decision, take a physical action (like a short walk, a coffee or even getting stationery supplies) to bring you out of the space. Taking an action can bring you into a more positive space instantly.

Why this is good for you
By focusing on your own goals and how you see yourself, you will begin to change your mindset. Changing your mindset is like developing muscles - it takes time, it can be tough, but it’s so worth it. The great thing is that you can begin to talk with confidence and certainty. You can stand up for your own ideas, speak positively, be authentic and will be less afraid of feedback.

Being taken seriously and moving closer to your own goals is all about you, rather than someone else. Your responses are your own; your actions are your own. Taking ownership of you, brings power!

About Belinda Bow
Belinda Bow is the founder of Green Chilli Marketing and recently launched the Green Chilli Marketing Franchise opportunity for talented marketers to have a successful career and work life that fits in with their lifestyle. Belinda is a Certified Practicing Marketer and an Associate Fellow of the Australian Marketing Institute.

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