5 Ways Women can Guarantee Their Edge

Guest post by Frances Cole Jones
Author of How to Wow: Proven Strategies for Selling Your [Brilliant] Self in Any Situation
Watch her interview on The Woman's Connection YouTube Vlog!

1. Because women have naturally higher voices, it's particularly important to insure we're speaking from our diaphragm which gives our voices resonance and authority. To check if you are, place your hand on your abdomen while you speak. If you're hand's not moving, your diaphragm's not engaged. An easy way to practice engaging it is to lie on the floor with a heavy book on your stomach and breathe until the book is moving up and down. When you stand up, your voice will have dropped about an octave.  

2. It's important for everyone to be aware of how they are taking up space. As women, we often make ourselves smaller, rather than larger.  As you sit in your next meeting, look around at the posture and attitudes of others at the table. If you're leaning back with your hands in your lap while others are leaning forward, move to the front of your seat, sit up straight, and lean in toward the group. Also, we trust you when we can see your hands, we don’t trust you when we can’t—keep you hands where others can see them.  

3. Listening without interrupting is a vastly underrated skill set-- and interruptions come in many forms. As women, we often interrupt by agreeing and encouraging—“Absolutely,” we’ll say, or “I know exactly what you mean,” not recognizing that this can interrupt others' thought patterns. Instead, I recommend signaling your encouragement and agreement via non-verbal techniques:  leaning in, nodding your head, and smiling.   

4. Multitasking comes easily to women, consequently many of us take it for granted—neglecting to formalize our thoughts into words. But research has shown that one of the most effective ways you can plan for success is by instituting checklists—yes, those work-a-day items that inevitably get left on the front of the refrigerator when you go to the supermarket. But before you write this idea off as too simple, consider that both surgeons and pilots complete rigorous checklists before they begin operations—in fact, pilots have a list of twenty five items that must be checked off, in order, every time they leave the ground, despite the fact that most of them know the list by heart. 

5. In this economy it’s critical to have access to multiple areas of expertise. One way to ensure this is to barter your brain power.  To begin, I recommend sitting down with one or two friends who have a wealth of knowledge about something you’ve always wanted to know, but haven’t yet had the time or inclination to learn and telling them frankly how much you admire their expertise. I would then ask them if there’s anything that you do that they have always wanted to find out more about. These shared talents can be gold—or, better yet, worth their weight in gold.