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3 Ways to Assert Yourself in the Workplace

Source | LinkedIn : By Jean Chatzky

“It’s difficult to be heard and respected at the same time.” That’s what chef and Food Network star Giada De Laurentiis told me on last week’s episode of my HerMoney podcast. “Although there are many women working in the food business, there aren’t many women at the top of the food chain. It’s tough to have them respect what you’re saying ­– and because I had never owned a restaurant, it made it even harder.”

De Laurentiis is no stranger to hard work and determination. She worked in other people’s restaurants for years, then opened her own on the Las Vegas Strip. GIADA has been around for two years, and it’s one of the few female-branded restaurants in Vegas, not to mention the entire country.

While women make up roughly 40% of America’s cooks, Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows women make up less than 20% of America’s chefs and head cooks. Laurentiis faced the challenge of being taken seriously despite her extensive experience in the industry. 

Many women are no strangers to industries and companies dominated by men. Here are three ways to assert yourself at work. 

  1. Know Your Worth (And Don’t Be Afraid to Ask For It)

Do you think you’re being undervalued? One in five human resource managers admits women at their companies earn less than men for doing the same jobs, according to a recent survey from CareerBuilder. If that hits close to home, gather your facts and do your research. Consider other variables (like skills and education) and research what you’re worth on sites like Glassdoor, PayScale and Fairygodboss (which is specifically for women).

After that, make an actual list outlining what you’ve done for the company, and try your best to quantify the value you’re bringing. If you’re thinking an equally-qualified colleague is earning more, try this line: “It has come to my attention that there’s the potential to earn more with my position and experience. I’d like to know what I can do to get there. Here’s how I think I fit in and why I deserve the consideration…”

  1. Assert Yourself

When women are assertive, they’re often perceived as bitchy. Outsmart the system by being assertive in a firm, quiet and confident way, says Lee E. Miller, president of and co-author of “A Woman’s Guide to Successful Negotiating: How to Convince, Collaborate, & Create Your Way to Agreement” (which he co-wrote with his daughter). Whether you’re at the helm of an enterprise (like Giada) or sitting in front of your boss asking for a raise, being assertive should be a top priority. Don’t argue or attack, but rather, aim to exude quiet confidence and authority. And back your position with facts.

  1. Position Yourself For Success

You can apply this principle both literally and figuratively. “In a meeting, a woman will make a point, but nothing will happen with it – and then later in the meeting, a man will appropriate that point as if it’s his own idea,” says Miller. “Most women don’t say anything, and the right thing to do is to simply say, ‘I appreciate you agreeing with what I was saying before.’ Because if she doesn’t say anything, it becomes his idea.” For the literal part? Men often choose seats at the middle of the table in meetings — e.g., power seats — while women tend towards the back of the room. Try stepping up your game seating-wise, voice your opinion and see how people treat you differently. 

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