Why are women no good at selling themselves
Women struggle with self-evaluation
Do you hide your light under a bushel or are you good at blowing your own trumpet? What is it about us Brits, women in particular, that makes us so reserved about sharing and celebrating our skills? Maybe you even have trouble recognising and acknowledging what they even are? This week I’m exploring why, even us sassy queenagers, might not be showing up fully in our power and the knock on effect that can be having to us as women in business.
Not feeling good enough
Our background and life experiences shape us and influence how we show up. I grew up in the north west of England where a spade is always a spade (unless it’s a shovel). My dad was proud of us kids but didn’t really know how to show it in a nurturing way. He always said as long as we’d done our best that was good enough BUT I remember being nervous of telling him that Derek Walker had beaten me to top of the class in Maths by 1%. This was primary school, and I was usually top in English and Maths, Derek a close second. I had done my best but somehow my test score of 98% felt like I wasn’t good enough this time. Derek had scored 99%. I don’t recall my dad’s reaction, but I do remember feeling not good enough.
That feeling must’ve not stayed with me as I recently found some secondary school reports say things like ‘Her written work has been particularly good. She needs to guard against over confidence however.’ Miss Limon, Music when I was in the first year at secondary. I had mostly A’s with a couple of B’s in my report that year. My form tutor’s comments ‘An excellent report of which Lisa can be justifiably proud. There is always a danger, in this situation, of over confidence. I hope Lisa will note this danger and consider it carefully.’ A few years later my English teacher had this to say ‘Lisa has considerable ability, but she has a tendency to be rather too easily satisfied with her own standard.’
Depression affected my outlook on life
There was a local phrase ‘peas above sticks’ that was used to describe folk who were getting a bit cocky. I know my dad said that to me more than once. Adolescent Lisa was obviously showing promise but a bit of a handful. My favourite comment from my 4th year at secondary school came from my maths teacher. ‘Lisa enjoys life but must realise also that she is at an important period in her life. She has the ability to achieve the highest grade at O’ level. I only hope she is serious enough for long enough to grasp all the new work.’ I didn’t. I could NOT get my head around algebra AT ALL. I think I got a B in the end.
I'm not sure whether my teacher’s comments were a sign of the times or a product of the straight talking community that we lived in. Maybe both? I know that we were brought up to just get on with stuff. Shit happens, you get back up, dust yourself off and get on with life. The fact I struggled with depression for many years also affects my outlook on life. During those darkest times of my life everything felt so difficult, just day to day stuff was hard work. Compared to depression years my life now is a doddle.
I was brought up being told there’s always someone worse off than you. Having this attitude to life means you develop resilience that’s for sure! This was the way things were. That way of being, still, to this day, means that I don’t always stop, take stock and recognise what I have achieved. I’m much better at helping others acknowledge and celebrate their achievements which draws from skills I honed when teaching.
As a teacher it’s important to bring out the best in your learners. To empower them, to tease the answers out. To praise when appropriate, to provide feedback in a way that isn’t going to knock confidence. To be honest but kind, using tact and diplomacy. This is how I work with my colour and style clients too. They come to me for advice because I'm an expert but I’m not going to tell anyone they’ve got it all wrong while they are defining and refining their personal style and brand identity. It’s about nurturing their skills and going at a pace that suits them without them feeling inadequate.
Gender gap evident in self-promotion
It’s a good idea to take stock and review regularly. This is not only relevant when you are learning something new but in business as well. Goal setting, then knowing how you are going to measure your progress towards those goals is a good practice to get into. Talking your progress over with someone and tracking it really helps you to see how far you’ve come. I do this monthly.
However, on a daily basis it’s too easy to forget to pause and to celebrate your achievements before moving on to the next job in hand. I’m definitely guilty of this. I take things for granted and shrug things off. My coach and my accountability buddy have both made me aware of this over the past 12 months. So, I am trying harder to take stock more. I had a call from someone this morning who I haven’t spoken to for a few years. She’s seen my posts about the FAB Network and wanted to know more. As I was talking to her, I felt really proud of what I've achieved since its conception 6 months ago. I’m also proud that actually took a moment to allow that feeling to land.
On the whole, men find it easier to big themselves up and are more confident around their capabilities than women. A friend and I were chatting about this recently. She was considering applying for a job and while she met the majority of the criteria, there were a couple of points she was lacking in. She was thinking about not even putting her application forward. Completing a job application well is a skill in itself. I saw some corkers when I was shortlisting for teaching staff as the prison education manager that’s for sure! According to a recent study, statistics show that women are far less inclined to self-promote even when a job with higher pay is at stake. Societal norms are mentioned, and self-evaluation is just another example of where there is a gender gap.
Develop your self-belief
My conclusions from this week’s musing? Us girls need to get a grip. How can we expect someone else to believe in us if we don’t fully believe in ourselves? We need to exercise our self-belief muscles so we can blow our own trumpets louder with our heads held high.
I’m committing to the following for the next 4 weeks to develop my self-belief muscle:
Making a note of at least 3 things I’ve achieved towards my goals each day however small
Reflect at the end of each week on the distance travelled
Record the achievements in one place so I can see the accumulative effect
Who’s with me?
PS. FAB Network meetings are held on the second Wednesday of each month 1100-1300 - a mix of online and F2F - next week we are in NOTTINGHAM -grab your ticket now
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