“Women err on the side of being ineffectually humble, men err on the side of being self-aggrandizing,” communication expert Peggy Klaus told online attendees during Class 5 of the NEW Summit Speaker Series, May 10, 2017.
Klaus, author of Brag! and The Hard Truth about Soft Skills, shared advice on embracing ambition with warmth and strength during the one-hour “Competition Is Not a Dirty Word” webinar. Much of the difficulty women have in competing comes from cultural bias, Klaus noted, and the media’s portrayal of ambitious women as uncompromising and aggressive.
“[The word] ‘competition’ is usually perceived along with words like ‘hostile,’ ‘adverse’ — and worse,” Klaus said. But competition and declaring your accomplishments are necessary components of career advancement. “There’s no ‘I’ in team,” Klaus said, “but there is a ‘U’ in bonus!”
Klaus offered tips for women who want to tap into their competitive spirit:
Talk positively about your accomplishments. “If you’re going to compete, you must be able to tell people what you’ve done,” Klaus said.
Develop a good bragologue. Create your story with a few brag nuggets, channeled with passion, urgency and a sense of delight in telling it.
Raise your hand. “Women hold themselves back from jobs they want, thinking ‘I’m not ready yet’ – while men raise their hand on a dime,” Klaus noted.
Don’t worry about being a stereotype. “What are the chances of you becoming this nasty, cutthroat, disgusting competitor? I’m guessing slim to none,” Klaus said.
Winning takes work. “Women are often seen as looking desperate if they work hard for something,” Klaus noted. “We think success should look like it comes easily.”
Demonstrate leadership, even without direct reports. “Try putting yourself up for different roles on committees,” Klaus suggested. “Let people know what you bring to the table.”
Prompt yourself. Competitiveness benefits from affirmations. Klaus recommends reminders, such as “Nothing less than my best will do” and “If I don’t compete, I can’t win!”
“The more you prompt yourself, the better you will be at being competitive,” Klaus advised.
NEW members may register free online for the next NEW Summit Speaker Series webinar "Ambition and the Passion to Grow" with career expert Kathryn Heath, July 12 at 1 p.m. ET. Members may view previous webinars in the NEW Study Hall. Not a member? Join NEW.