Career success largely depends upon three elements:
- Do you have sufficient credibility based on knowledge and experience?
- Are you perceived as having high standards of performance along with skills to negotiate and handle conflict?
- Do you have high emotional and relationship intelligence?
Watch for these four mistakes, that when addressed, can pave the way to career success.
1. Lacking self-confidence. When you minimize your accomplishments, always apologize, and remain silent in meetings or presentations, it reduces others’ confidence in you.
Instead, it’s essential to genuinely value your credibility and believe in your capability to handle challenges, and have faith that you can succeed. Don’t wait to be called on. Speak up when you have something to say. When you don’t know the answer to an important question, admit it and say, “I will find out the answer and get right back to you.” When you demonstrate your self-confidence, others will develop trust in your capabilities too.
2. Lacking a consistent personal brand and a network that knows you. Personal branding allows you to establish a reputation and an identity while still maintaining a level of trust and interaction. Your brand includes how you dress and how you communicate verbally as well as non-verbally (such as posture, voice tone, gestures, handshake, attitude and eye contact). It all comes together to form your professional image. You may fear speaking up when you want something, waiting to be approached for a promotion before showing interest, and minimizing your chances for success.
Instead, be clear about your career goals, identify your values, and set your priorities. Identify your talents and strengths and what differentiates you from your colleagues. Then share your knowledge with others. Let your boss know that you’ve earned the opportunity, and present your case with confidence. Even if rejected, you’ll gain respect and consideration for the next opportunity.
3. Being too nice in an effort to please others. You may have learned to cultivate a “nice girl” attitude while growing up, but this can hurt you at work. Trying to avoid ruffling feathers or offending anyone, you may use wishy-washy or “neutral” language––both verbal and written. Studies have shown that young women have a stronger need than men to be seen as “likable.” Likability isn’t synonymous with respect. People who make congeniality a priority tend to be indecisive and submissive, which definitely won’t help in earning respect. Colleagues, customers and clients may doubt your abilities or try to take advantage of you.
Instead, you must understand the rules at work, and then keep it fresh by playing at the edge of the boundaries. Learn how to negotiate. Knowing how to say “no” is never easy, no matter your position. Use resolute, firm language. Keep in mind that when it comes to your professional life, there’s a difference between being respected and liked.
4. Allowing your emotions to run amok. Emotional reactions include breaking down in tears in the office. When you cry, the perception is that you’re letting your feelings get the best of you and clouding your judgment. Others can interpret tears as a sign of weakness.
Instead, practice pausing when you feel tense or reactive. Name the specific emotion. Is it embarrassment, anxiety, anger, resentment? Like magic, when you name it, you tame it! Then, look for what the emotion is telling you about what you need. If you do feel a rush of tears coming on, take a deep breath, politely excuse yourself if possible, and step outside until you feel composed. If need be, vent to a trusted friend or significant other once you leave the office at the end of the day. You’d be amazed by the amount of clarity you can get after stepping away from a situation, and you’ll be grateful you did!