We all want to be taken seriously, right? We enter each conference room and begin each phone call with the hope that we are credible and helpful. When we have confidence in ourselves and our contribution, it is much easier to be taken seriously.
Many years ago, I was taken so seriously, I was mistaken for holding a role three levels higher than the one I actually did. When my colleague finally confessed his confusion, we had a great laugh! (Maybe we laughed too hard? I never did get the role of which he thought I was worthy.)
We’ve heard it all before, dress for the role you want, be over-prepared, and give a firm handshake. Here are a few more tips on being taken seriously that may take practice:
- Check Your Pace and Tone: If you are speaking too quickly, you have too much to say or you are selfishly ignoring the needs of your listeners. What about upspeak? That is when we are describing facts, but ending sentences with a higher tone. This signals a question rather than a statement, ultimately eroding confidence in what we are saying.
- Practice Proper Grammar: I hear improper grammar so frequently, I am actually starting to get confused. When I have time to think about it, I say, “She and I made the call,” because I would never say, “Her made the call.” or “Me made the call.” I say, “Sarah joined him and me.” because I would never say, “Sarah joined he.” or “Sarah joined I.” We always put the other person first. Frankly, poor grammar distracts me from the serious contribution of the individual. (Don’t even get me started on “us” and “we.”) 1
- Seek More Information: If you don’t know what you are talking about, LEARN! Seek help from others. Make a concerted effort to discover and develop the skills needed to become proficient in a particular practice or subject matter. Nothing builds confidence faster than true knowledge and expertise.
- Take Yourself Seriously: Confidence isn’t given by others. It is developed and acknowledged internally, and then projected. I remember once becoming so frustrated with my slow trajectory, that I thought, “If just one person believed in me, I could be successful.” Then, it hit me! THAT PERSON IS ME! You may have to be the first one…
The way we talk to others and to ourselves says a lot about how we are perceived. Speaking with a moderate pace, appropriate tone, and proper grammar is important to being taken seriously. When we lack specific skills, we must learn more. We also have to take ourselves seriously, before we can expect others to do the same. …And don’t forget to laugh along the way– people who are taken seriously can also have fun!
(If you would like to work with an Executive Coach on building confidence, please reach out. I promise not to correct your grammar because my husband tells me people don’t like that!)
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Michelle Sugerman (PMP, PCC) is a speaker, author, and leadership coach with Leading Synergies. She hosts global masterminds, called Synergy Groups, for REALLY BUSY Christians leading with powerful confidence and humble hearts. She works with high-performing leaders focused on organizational effectiveness by refining strategy, inspiring teams, and delighting clients. Michelle specializes in the areas of information technology, project management, franchise management, and business as mission. Michelle lives in Colorado where she hikes fourteeners and enjoys gourmet meals with her loving husband of 22 years.