September of last year I gave a talk called, Communication Tips for Dealing with Difficult Conversations in Business for the Women Communicators of Austin. The most interesting thing that came out of that for me was later receiving emails from two of the women who had attended. Both had applied the techniques I discussed, one to manage a co-worker conflict, and another to negotiate her salary. Both were excited that the communication techniques worked for them.
Over the last few years I have read about and observed the way women undersell themselves. There are many theories that explain this phenomenon – from the idea that the primary role of women in society is to build community and to nurture growth, to the vilification of women who demonstrate more male-oriented characteristics of dominance and assertive leadership.
Regardless of the theory or reason, the modern workplace still tends toward a hierarchical, winner-take-all, climb-up-and-over mindset. I would like to counter this belief with the idea that, regardless of gender, aggression is not as necessary as knowing your worth. Really knowing it, in your bones.
How I Help Clients Determine Their Worth
I am currently working with a woman who has achieved quite a lot, but finds herself in a role many women do: re-entering the workplace after devoting some time to raising children. I am taking her through the branding process I use for companies, only tweaked slightly for a person.
Step One: What Do YOU Value?
All of my branding projects begin with a word association exercise. This always leads me immediately to identifying the strengths of a client, in addition to their values, worldview, and apprehensions. As we quickly go through this exercise, I am able to determine what value they bring to the marketplace.
Step Two: Where Have You Thrived, and Why?
After determining the core personality characteristics that we are going to emphasize, I ask a series of questions that help me identify where the client has experienced low stress and high success. I am a firm believer in knowing what works for you when it comes to career growth. The practice of revisiting the context of success will help the client gravitate toward making more of it happen.
Step Three: Map Your Past in Context
This is the part where I have the client look at all of their past work in the context of their character and their successes. We put a context to their achievements based on what was uncovered in steps one and two. We look for the patterns of who they are and what they bring over and over again. Then we document that success.
Why I Do It This Way
Once the strengths and achievements are identified, and we put them in a context of real-world achievements, the client begins to believe in their worth. They see in a very concrete way not only what they are good at, but also the type of work environments where they are enabled to demonstrate their worth. The confidence from this knowing, and stating it over and again in resumes, profiles, blog posts, etc. becomes a habit of consciousness. They begin to know their worth in their bones.
The First Step to Knowing Your Value is to Demonstrate That Value
I believe in the power of a structured foundation. When you’re out there, selling yourself in the marketplace, having a foundational understanding of your value will provide a quiet confidence that will resonate into all negotiations, whether financial or interpersonal. There needs be no “scary” aggression to it. After we go through this process, my clients can calmly state what they are worth, and why.
That’s true confidence.