In most workplaces, men usually hold more positions of power. So approaching a MAN to be a mentor is a really good idea if you work in a male-dominated field.
So I’ve got three tips for ‘how to approach a mentor’ if he happens to be a man. This is exactly what I’ve been sharing with clients for 15 years, and I could happily tell you about a dozens of women whose male mentors have gone on to help them to advance their careers.
1. Point out the similarities between you:
Let’s be clear, you’re not picking any old Tom, Dick or Harry to mentor you, you must have commonalities. These may be personal, like being from the same country of origin or the fact you’re both parents. One banking client I worked with chose a mentor because they both had young boys with severe autism, something that is very present for a parent, but not something everyone can relate to. Talking about their sons gave them an early bond when they were first building the relationship. However, what you have in common may be more likely be work-related, like clients in common, or a similar career path. Whatever it is, finding a commonality before you approach a mentor will make them more likely to give you help, when you explain why you’ve approached them specifically
2. Offer breakfast, rather than lunch or dinner.
Some guys are conveniently playing the American VP, Mike Pence, and opting not to spend time with any women one to one. If you potentially have someone like this in your sight, make it as easy as possible for them to say yes. Ask them for a breakfast meeting, not lunch or dinner - anything that they fear could be misconstrued. Plus, breakfast gives you both a time limit since you both have places to be, and it’s the easiest of meals to avoid alcohol.
3. Give him an end date.
Sometimes people recoil from being asked to be a mentor, as if you’re asking to be connected forever. They need to relax: it’s mentoring, not marriage.
While most of the mentoring relationships I’ve facilitated in the corporates I’ve worked with actually go on far longer than the official length of the programme, it’s good to give everyone a get out date. Just tie it to a specific challenge you’re having, like:
I’d love to be able to pick your brain now and again while… ‘I’m onboarding in this new role’, or ‘while I’m delivering this project for a former client of yours’ or ‘while I’m building this new team’. Most mentors will be happy to continue, but an end date gives everyone a sense, they’re not giving away their first born child, simply by saying yes.
If this has helped you feel more equipped when asking someone to be your mentor, tweet about this blog: https://ctt.ac/cPzaU
Good luck in your quest to find that perfect mentor - I’m sure it will pay dividends to your career!
So I’m not going to tell you HOW to fake confidence… I’m going to tell you why the concept of faking confidence is what my Texan uncle might call ‘Hogwash’, and the easy (and probably unexpected) things to do instead.
Faking confidence won’t work for long, and if you read to the end, I’ll share how an ‘off the cuff’ comment I received after presenting to a Board for the first time totally changed my perspective on how much confidence any of us actually need.
The percentage of people who have to ‘fake confidence’ or suppress a part of themselves or ‘be someone they’re not’ at work is ridiculously high.
As I cover with live audiences, the further away you are from what the status quo of what leadership at your organisation looks like, the more likely you are to feel this way, which ultimately affects your confidence. The truth is no one can actually see how you feel, just what you project. As someone who speaks to really big audiences, I’ve often felt hugely nervous or under-confident, but had people comment on my apparent confidence later.
And the irony is that faked confidence isn’t actually very useful or even attractive to anyone else. In fact, ‘faking it’ often leads to ‘Imposter Syndrome’ - that sense of living in fear of being ‘found out’ for how much you don’t actually know, something most of us experience.
By the end of this blog, you’ll have 3 better ways of thinking about ‘faking confidence’ which have worked for dozens of my clients over the years, like the executive who found he actually made the most headway when he sometimes played dumb on issues, not when he donned an uber-confident Superman shirt.
So let’s start with what does work in getting people on board:
1. The sweet spot of getting other people engaged isn’t outright confidence, and in my book, research shows it’s actually more like a recipe. Now, I do like a recipe analogy as I do like my food. But this recipe is a big base of competency, with a dash of modesty and even a sprinkle of insecurity. Perhaps not surprisingly, researchers find we respond better to insecurity in women than we do in men, but for both genders competency has got to be the main ingredient on which the whole cake in baked - not confidence. So don’t fake it.
2. The second thing to do if you are tempted to fake confidence is to remember that faking it actually makes you unlikeable. One of the issues I cover in my new book (coming soon...) is the difference in confidence between millennials and their older colleagues. That unearthed research which found teenagers who rated themselves as popular turned out to be kidding themselves when their classmates were asked. Things got even worse a few years later, as the same ‘popular’ teenagers, who now in their early 20’s were much more likely to viewed as vain, arrogant and self-centred compared to those who hadn’t focused on popularity in their teenage years. Again, the judgements were particularly harsh for women - but vain male peers didn’t do much better in the eyes of others either. I interviewed nearly 40 senior leaders from across the world for my new book, and looking back as to how I chose many of the interviewees, all would be people you’d likely consider confident but they wore it very lightly, and were often the first to self-deprecate and point out how much they didn’t know. I’m probably not that different from you, in that these are the types of people we are all drawn to - not the overconfident braggarts amongst us!
3. The last thing to do if you are tempted to fake it, is to remember you don’t need to fake it at all - you just need to draw on earlier memories of when you’ve been very confident before. It may not be the same challenge, but you have a best version of yourselves that you can call upon. Do you know those ‘What would Jesus Do?’ bracelets people were loving a few years ago, designed to inspire you to make better choices? I often ask my clients to remember the most confident they’ve ever felt and then make their own imaginary bracelet they’ll wear in those moments that asks: ‘What would confident Wendy or confident David do?’ It often gets them laughing, but also reminds them, they’ve been confident many times before. Sure, it may be different challenges, but they know what it feels like so can draw upon how they felt
As a bit of fun, when did you last need your ‘What would a confident version of you do’ bracelet?’ for me, it’s every time I go up in front of audiences that get increasingly larger.
So now I’m going to share one of the first Board level presentations I ever did and how it changed my tune on all this confidence stuff. The first time I presented to the Board of a law firm, I was hugely nervous and at the end when I asked one of the Board members how he felt it went, he said almost dismissively ‘Oh, great, it was just what we needed, but I know you must do these every day.’ He actually looked a bit perplexed as to why I was asking for the feedback. I mean, didn’t all of my senior level presentations go equally well!? I went on to do a lot more work with that firm, but even more importantly, it showed me they couldn’t see my lack of confidence. However, what was important, was my competence - the way I had an answer to every potential objection, the way I shared what worked for other clients and the way I was able to manage all the personalities in the room. That’s competence, and it so much more important than confidence - because you can’t easily fake competence. Confidence seems sexy but it’s quickly found out if your competence doesn’t match.
I hope you’ll join me in ripping up the rule book for confidence as we know it!
And I look forward to seeing the impact that we make.
What if I told you, the only way to get that ultimate pipe-dream; “a confidence that lasts” is to ignore aiming specifically at confidence at all?
The only way to get that feeling of ‘inner certainty’ is instead to focus on competence, or your ability to get things done, and I’ve got 3 quick and practical ways to build your skills, ultimately leading to the confidence you really want.
These are the THREE of the BEST TIPS to come out of the research with 40 executives from around the world for my new book and from the audiences to which I speak. All are people who, if you saw them in action, you’d doubt confidence had ever been an issue - but the only way they all got around it was by focusing on their COMPETENCE, particularly when it comes to handling others.
1. Redefine confidence
When people think about confidence, they often focus on what it looks like - speaking up in meetings, leading presentations, risk-taking and... not caring what other people think. In some ways it sounds glam, but it also sounds like many of our current politicians...
And I have yet to meet any professional who thinks they’d be a great hire or good fit for the office.
Instead, the best way to move past those very specific, and not very helpful behaviours is to define confidence more widely for yourself. Indeed, when I talked about wider ways of defining confidence, people I interviewed identified much more with: self-awareness, authenticity between your work and private self and a willingness to challenge the status quo.
Do you think you exhibit these traits? Would you say you had a ‘lack of confidence’?If you answered yes… is it because you’re: “Not good at speaking to large audiences”? Yep - that’s what OUR CULTURE has defined as CONFIDENCE… and many people within this group have done the EXACT SAME THING AS YOU.
Speaking to audiences or in contentious meetings is just one tiny part of being confident, and as we all know from listening to someone weigh in when they don’t know the facts, it doesn’t even require that much expertise! We all suffer when we credit certain people with confidence, even if what comes out of their mouth isn’t great quality.
NOW OVER TO YOU. Take 2 minutes out of your day - and I expect you’ll be surprised with what you discover. Write down all the behaviours you assume confident people do. These will range from some of the more positive like speaking up in meetings, offering to lead presentations to increasingly potentially negative, like taking unnecessary risks, speaking over others, disregarding feedback - that old ‘I don’t care what anyone else says’, that sounds glamorous, but isn’t great for teams. As you look at your list, you may be surprised with how many are actually negative, and how many of what’s left of the positive are actually trainable and just require you getting more experience and exposure to those challenges.
2. Collect feedback on what will give you exposure to the skills you need
The second thing to do is to ask other people about any gaps in your knowledge, expertise - your competence. They may say they don’t see many areas in which you could approve, or highlight things you didn’t expect. Either way, feedback is vital - we all get hired, fired or promoted, not based on how great we think we are, but based on what others think of us. When I’m working with corporate audiences, this is something they totally get!
One of the STEM leaders I interviewed said that his biggest concern wasn’t with the people who were under-confident in his team, it was those who were too confident. They take risks, make mistakes, don’t keep up to date with their field and blame everyone else around them when things go wrong. For him, and many others, that is a far bigger problem than people not having enough confidence.
So go out and have conversations, not just with your boss, but also your peers, junior reports and clients about what additional skills they’d like you to have. I can guarantee - confidence building won’t be one of them. People simply want you to be always improving in your job.
3. Highlight to people the skills you already have
The third thing to do in building your confidence via your competence, is to ensure that you talk about your experience with everyone you think might doubt you. This doesn’t mean you approach life like a walking cv, but when people seem to be expecting you to exude confidence, what they’re really seeking is evidence of your competence. So where necessary, before giving your opinion on things in the most ‘confident of manner’ - which may feel a big fake anyway, simply point out the experiences that have led you to that opinion.
Say things like ‘Based on the 3 other projects I’ve done with this size client’ or ‘The last time I talked with our senior leaders on this issue they felt…’ or ‘This came up in discussions when I was doing my latest qualification on X’. You’re not saying, ‘Look at me world! I’m the smartest person ever!’ which isn’t true for any of us. We are all ongoing projects, always learning and anyone who acts or tells you they know it all, is who you should worry about. They are both lying and also woefully ignorant of the complexity of most topics.
Let’s be very clear, competence isn’t about being smarter or faster. There will always be someone more clever or better-looking, that’s not a war you can win.
I hope you’ll join me in my mission to re-define confidence - please come back and let me know how you get on in your workplace.
WAYS TO CONTROL EMOTIONS IN WORKPLACE
Happy New Year, I hope you are well-rested from the break. Today I'm talking about ways to control emotions in the workplace - something that I'm asked a lot about by my coaching clients. Emotions at work are inevitable, but controlling emotions can be tricky. I’m sharing 3 of my most critical tips for managing emotions at work.
After I share the three tips, I’ll let you into a secret of the power of a single sentence.
(Which can reduce negative judgements people have of you by 20%, particularly if you are a woman showing emotions, like anger, disbelief or dismay at work.)
So grab a cuppa, put away the tissues and remember these 3 tips for how to control your emotions.
Are you ready to roll? Click the picture below to watch the full video.
As always, let me know what you think of the video in the comments section on YouTube.
If you enjoy this video you can also:
Emotions at work are inevitable, but controlling emotions can be tricky.
I’m sharing 3 of my most critical tips for managing emotions at work.
Before we get started, subscribe to our channel and hit the notification bell so you know each time I release a video full of practical tips that will help you get you the career you want.
I’m Dr. Suzanne Doyle-Morris, and I’ve spent the last 15 years helping women with many career-related issues, including handling the mix of emotions, from elation all the way to anger, that feature in any career that’s worth having.
After I share the three tips that I’ve talked through with many clients, I’ll let you into a secret of the power of a single sentence.
whisper* which can reduce negative judgements people have of you by 20%, particularly if you are a woman showing emotions, like anger, disbelief or dismay at work.
So grab a cuppa, put away the tissues and remember these 3 tips for how to control your emotions. Are you ready to roll?
It’s normal to have emotions at workplace. People often dismissively say ‘ Don’t take it personally, but I get it, you take your work personally. You care, work is time away from your family and it’s wrapped up with how we identify ourselves.
Getting upset is normal because we’re all human.But getting upset in front of an audience can be a risk.
Don’t worry. There ARE ways to control emotions, and this can be crucial in your career progression.
Point 1: Check your language.
This isn’t about avoiding a swearing tirade at colleagues, though that would be memorable for the whole office. It’s about the language we use to frame our challenges. While our colleagues can have a large impact on our emotions, they don’t technically make you cry.
Before you react, check you’re not laying more of the blame at their feet than they deserve. I get it, we all work with idiots at times, but sometimes a comment is not offensive on it’s own, it’s just the straw that broke the camel’s back.
A camel that may also be carrying your feelings of being underappreciated, overwhelmed or misunderstood. No good will come of ruminating in language like ‘Nothing ever works out for me” or “They never listen.’ or ‘Everyone in this office is two-faced’. No one in this office likes me’.
There are always exceptions of when you did get ideas through and people did listen.
Think about changing your perspective.. Even slightly to:
“This sucks, but I’ll be better prepared next time.’
This does two things: It puts it into perspective plus it forces you to think what you would do differently in the run up to the next meeting to avoid the heartbreak again.
Remember, speak to yourself how you would speak to others.
I’m going to say that again…. speak to yourself how you would speak to others.
This can really make a difference.
Point 2: Sometimes, if all else fails and you have to excuse yourself from the situation, just do it. In some cases, leaving the room to take a few deeps breaths, cool down and take a drink of water can be all that you need to re-focus on the task at hand. It sends a message to your boss that you care deeply about the work, and that you aren’t just there filling time or making a bit of pin money for the family. In the moments or even hours you are away from the situation, remind yourself, this situation is unlikely to literally kill you, and is likely to be a story you tell others about and even roll your eyes over in years to come. As they say; ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.’
Think about it, how many times have you felt that dreaded lump at the back of your throat, where all you want to do is to drop everything and give up?
3. OK so my secret about the power of a single sentence.
A ‘hedge’ can be a great tool for reducing backlash or judgement against you.
As I talk about in Love Your C-Word, research shows 'hedges', not the kind you grow in your garden, but the type that can soften a statement, can reduce the chances of reprisals when you do show emotions like anger.
Although feelings like anger can be overwhelming at the time, these meetings or interactions are fleeting and are an opportunity for you to prove that you are stronger than you seem.
Let me explain.
While giving a disagreeable opinion, researchers encouraged people to describe the intention of their feedback. Participants were merely asked to say:
“I see this as a matter of honesty and integrity, so it’s important for me to be clear about where I stand”.
Remarkably, this single hedge alone reduced the backlash against the speaker, particularly for women, by 20%.
This single statement can benefit everyone. So next time you share an unpopular opinion, explain your intent before you give your point of view. You’re likely to get less backlash, which in turn helps to keep all the emotions in check.
This shows your boss that you care deeply about the issues at hand, and that you can handle anything that’s thrown at you.
So, now you know how to control emotions at work. What now?
If you’re watching this, your career is obviously important to you. So are you currently thinking about that next promotion? Well you should be. Don’t wait until you’ve outgrown your current role.. Start thinking about what moves you can make NOW.
That’s why I’m offering you a copy of my completely FREE guide: How to get a promotion in 8 steps.
It is full of all my best advice - and has helped many clients move on to bigger and better things. Just click the link below and fill out your details.
If this video helped you - then like this video and don’t forget to subscribe to the channel and follow me on all of my social media.
Please visit my playlist on ‘Common Workplace Challenges’ - I promise it’s packed with tips on how to navigate all the other little challenges we face at work.
Suzanne Doyle-Morris, Author, Speaker & Gender Balance Expert for 25+ years.
Hear what I told BBC Radio about what to do about the worsening gender pay gap data