The voice is the vehicle that carries emotions, energy, and competence. It also conveys stress, fear, and lack of confidence. Discovering and using our voices in the business world is challenging for most of us — especially as women who are still breaking barriers in leadership roles. Here are several steps we women can take to strengthen our influence and amplify our voices as professionals.
Forming relationships with superiors, co-workers, and staff facilitates an organic exchange of ideas. It is essential to share your opinions and aspirations with others and not assume that they know what you want. The sooner you make your expectations clear, the better. Likewise, allow others to share with you what they are thinking. People who listen well tend to gain an audience for themselves when they need it.
A critical step in finding your voice in business is listening. Leadership is not always about speaking and making your presence known. Hearing what others have to contribute gives you greater access to their knowledge and expertise which you can assimilate to add credence to your own voice. However, this does not mean that you must subject yourself to destructive criticism or unqualified counsel.
Stand Up for Yourself
Women often face intentional and unintentional sexist treatment such as judgment based on physical appearance or behavior traits that are considered too feminine (for example, empathy) or too masculine (for example, ambition). Many women fear that taking a stand will derail their professional progress, so they let offenses slide. However, not taking a stand diminishes your authenticity and forces you to settle for less than what you deserve. Standing up for yourself and what you believe in helps set boundaries and corrects misunderstandings.
Developing your voice necessitates cultivating a track record of progress and successes so that people will have confidence in what you say. Prove your worth to yourself as you consistently strive to become better as an individual and professional. While you should maintain humility, you need to be comfortable with owning your accomplishments. Your reputation and actions validate what you have to say.
The best way to prove your worth to those who don’t believe in you is to show them how successful you’ve become. What better way to do that than to start your own business and be your own boss. This a realistic goal that can be done through small business loans for women. With your hard work and determination to gain more power, this would be a great opportunity for you to take.
Women may face criticism from men and other women regarding weight, fashion preferences, and hair styles. Some business cultures attempt to confine women into certain molds of appearance and behavior. Finding your voice means that you need to be your true self. Choosing to be YOU frees you to express who you truly are and empowers you to share your unique perspective when opportunities come.
Practice Confident Speaking
A stressful scenario such as a running a meeting or answering employee exit interview questions can induce a rush of adrenalin and shallow breathing that make the voice quiver and constrict the throat, resulting in a high pitched, unsure tone of voice. Verbal pauses and “up talking” can also diminish the gravitas and authority of your voice. Invest time to study how you sound and how to deliver an effective tone, emphasis and pace. Cultivate a style that will captivate your audience of one or many.
Help Others Find Their Voice
You can spread your influence indirectly by investing in others. Mentor another woman or group of women who needs your wisdom and expertise. Lend your assistance on a project, whether or not it serves you. Support your staff and offer consistent feedback to help them grow in their roles and lives.
The process of finding and using your voice in business is largely a matter of honing self-improvement and interpersonal skills. As you build confidence within yourself, you gain inner strength and outward success that make your voice worth hearing. As you build confidence within others, you magnify your voice even more.
Lindsey Patterson is a freelance writer and entrepreneur based in the US who specialises in business technology, customer relationship management and lead management. She also writes about the latest social trends, specifically involving social media.