Crowdsourced tips for Women in the Workplace or “how to stop apologising in emails”
Recently, the hot topic in the girls GC is how we can curb annoying little habits a lot of us have picked up- being overtly deferential, over-apologising and understating or minimising the accomplishments we have.
I can honestly say, I am a confident person. But recently, my mental health has taken quite a knock — and I wouldn’t be telling the truth if I said it hasn’t had an effect on my work. So, instead of wallowing, I turned to women (and men) I trust on Instagram, and crowdsourced the following tips:
- Stop apologising. This was by far, the most common entry. Over-apologising doesn’t make you seem like a nice person and it doesn’t evoke feelings of sympathy. It minimises you and your power. It doesn’t have to be a big overhaul of your entire being -it can be as simple as re-framing your emails to stop being overtly apologetic. A top tip I once heard at one of those women’s empowerment panels, is to take a week where you note down every time you say “sorry” in an email, message or verbally. My results made me put this at the top of my list of tips.
- I will offer two caveats to this, using a piece of work being late as an example. If the piece of work is late due to the client/a member of the external project team being late, then try reframing your email as ‘’This took longer than expected, I will have it with you first thing in the morning’’ or ‘“Thank you for your patience’’ rather than “Sorry for the delay”. If the project is late because you spent three hours on Tik Tok — then absolutely apologise, and set some app limits on your phone.
- Avoid too much ‘soft’ language including: Sorry, I thought that maybe, I was just wondering — sharpen it up.
- Don’t say ‘Could you just’, just ask. It’s not a favour, it’s their job. That being said, maintaining good relations with colleagues is obviously vital, especially with those under-appreciated members of staff (hint, often the research team). Make sure you’re thanking people for their good work.
- Do your research, know your worth. Some types of companies are notoriously bad at publishing salaries, or even salary bands especially in public affairs. Don’t be afraid to ask women (including me!) what you should be asking for in salary negotiations/interviews. I didn’t know that the range for an account exec can be between 23k to 27k at the right company, with the right experience.
- Shout about your accomplishments. For example, if a piece of work you do gets postive feedback from the client, don’t be afraid to CC in your higher up when responding, pointing out in your one to one, or bringing it up in your appraisal. Make notes of your work successes throughout the year to ensure that you have plenty of examples at your next evaluation. If you’re not sure how to approach ensuring top brass see your successes — look at your male colleagues. How are they making themselves known? Evaluate whether the same approach works for you.
- Don’t be afraid to apply for a job even if you don’t meet all the criteria.
- Look at the extra work you do. Are they opportunities or are you picking up organisational slack? Why aren’t the men/other colleagues on your team helping?
- Befriend everyone. Finance, IT, Reception. It helps to have allies everywhere. At one job I worked at, a major work disaster was averted by a very helpful security man (whose name shall go unpublished) who let me bypass some normal security protocols and left the doors open to checked guests when one of our staff lost their pass…
- If you need support in a meeting, message a trusted female colleague (or male ally!) and ask them to back you up.
- Thanks to all the men who replied with variations of “Get rid of men, women should run the world” including such gems as: “get rid of men in charge” and “force men to take full paternity leave without pay, see how they like it” and “If a man is being a misogynist in the workplace, deal with it like you’re Veronica Corningstone” — Google that one on your lunch break.