How do I present myself confidently?

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"Like many women, I tend to avoid conflict and hedge myself when giving my opinions at work. This means my input is often overlooked or dismissed. What can I do to improve my communication skills and present myself more confidently at work during brainstorming sessions and other meetings?"

 If you’re going to win in corporate America — or in life — you must make peace with conflict. Conflict is not a bad thing. I invite you to shift your perspective and see conflict as a way to create something new.

Changing your perspective and behavior to ensure you are heard starts with changing your mindset. When a situation presents itself, don’t use language that places you in a defensive position such as "I disagree.” Rather, use language that allows you to create a connection, such as "Yes, and …” Avoid saying things like "That’s a crazy idea!” Instead, consider saying "That’s interesting, tell me more.” The words we speak truly matter.

You might ask yourself if you are really listening with an ear for possibilities — or are you listening and comparing the ideas others present against your own? Look for the common connections and call them out. This is how you get into a position to create something new. 

As long as you’re doing what is right for the business — and remembering that it is not about your idea or their idea, but about the right idea — you’ll begin to develop new capabilities for effectively managing conflict.

Trudy Bourgeois is happy to answer your career questions. Please email them to NEW Communications Manager Barbara Grondin Francella.

Blog Author Bio

Trudy Bourgeois is founder and CEO of The Center for Workforce Excellence and the author of four books, including the most recent, Equality: Courageous Conversations about Women, Men and Race To Spark A Diversity and Inclusion Breakthrough. She previously held senior leadership roles in the consumer goods industry. 

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