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Subtle gaffes even smart women make

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in Admins,Office Management

Orlando, Fla. — So, you’ve  brought your best ideas to the meeting.  When the boss opens the floor to  suggestions, you raise your hand. 

Bad move. You’ve just sabotaged  your credibility. 

“A man wouldn’t raise his hand,”  workplace-communication maven  Colette Carlson told admins gathered  at the Administrative Professionals  Conference here in October. “So, why  should you?” 

Instead, said Carlson — who cut  her business teeth as an admin before  becoming a national sales trainer for  U.S. West and founding Colette  Carlson Communications ( in Encinitas,  Calif. — you must learn to speak up  early … within the first one-third of  the meeting. 

“If you don’t,” Carlson told the  admins, “you’re perceived as bringing  nothing to the table. The earlier you  jump in” — even if it’s just to voice  support of someone else’s idea — “the  more you’re seen as a contributor.”

Carlson outlined several other communication mistakes that too many professional women make, including:
  • Using phrases that signal a lack of confidence. Examples: “I could be wrong …,” or, “I’m probably forgetting something … .” “They protect us,” Carlson says of such defensive phrases, “so that, if you don’t like my idea, you’ll still like me.”

  • Adding “tag lines” to your statements. Example: “We’ll send the contract on Friday … OK?” or, “It would be better if we scheduled lunch before 1 p.m. … don’t you agree?” “Tag lines make it sound as if you’re asking for approval,” says Carlson.

  • Over-apologizing. Example: “I’m sorry, but I need to ask what business you have with Mr. Smith.” “Saying you’re sorry implies fault,” Carlson says, and undermines your credibility.

  • Looking unprepared when you enter a room. Example: Fidgeting, making hurried, jerky movements, shifting your eyes from person to person. “The fewer movements you make,” says Carlson, “the more people perceive you as prepared, confident and under control.”

  • Deflecting praise. Example: Your colleagues commend you for your work on an important project. You reply: “Well, it still needs a lot of work.”
“If we get a compliment, we immediately slash it,” says Carlson, and that just makes people think you don’t deserve it. Instead, say: “Thank you. I worked really hard on that, and I appreciate your noticing.” “If you recognize praise,” Carlson advises, “you’ll hear more of it.”

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