Updated: Jan 11, 2022
Let's face it...many of us have trouble summarizing and talking about our accomplishments.
We twirl our hair or look up at the ceiling or down at the floor (while sometimes saying "Ummmm..." when someone asks us our ambition or salary target or fee.) When someone praises us, we may downplay our accomplishments or get giggly and goofy.
Many people (especially women) are afraid to take credit for the things we've done or we are unable to clearly state our demands. In fact, the word "demand" has a negative connotation, so let's just call it the ASK.
It doesn't just apply to our business lives either. I recently made a list called "Man Musts," distilling what I want in a relationship. When I told a friend I have 16 non-negotiables, they replied "That's too many. You need to relax your standards." And that was even before they saw the list. (When they did, they agreed that nothing I was asking for was outrageous; some of the qualities just reflected basic human kindness and manners.)
But the bottom line is that many of us are afraid to "own our asks" and communicate them with clarity and confidence.
Over the years (65 in total), I've gotten way better at owning my accomplishments and asks. Here are a few things I've done that you may want to tailor to your own "confidence and ambition clarity."
I drafted a simple plan for 2021, zooming in on goals that were important to me and skills I need to refine in order to get there. It lives on my desktop, along with my digital vision board.
I re-read my resume and LinkedIn profile, reminding myself of my professional accomplishments and network. If you don't currently have an up-to-date CV or profile, consider hiring someone to help you. One of my SOS "sisters" engaged me to assist with that. Seeing your professional world through a third party's eyes can be helpful. Craft your personal brand USP (unique selling proposition) so you can wrap your head around how you're better than other candidates.
In honor of Women's History Month, I worked with my company VEEP (Sarah, also an SOS member) to create a visual history video of my own life. Seeing how far you've come builds confidence.
I practiced my pitch. Whether you shoot a selfie video while you give your elevator speech, attend ZOOM networking events as practice runs, or simply ask a close friend or colleague to "rehearse" with you, talking out loud about your qualifications and accomplishments builds calm and confidence. Fine-tune your message and delivery, but never beat yourself up after glitches.
I welcomed feedback. Listening to well-meaning criticism, asking questions, and incorporating input into the content and style of your communications are critical. Grammarly will even score the tone of your writing, so you can make sure you're coming across the way you want/need to.
The pandemic has eroded many people's confidence in themselves, so remaining positive takes commitment and work. Fine-tune your goals and messages, team up with colleagues who can help you strut your stuff, and practice and tweak. Above all, learn to accept praise and answer questions directly and confidently. If you don't believe how awesome you are, why should anyone else? So, ASK away. The worst that can happen is that someone says no.
So, we simply need to fine-tune our pitch and ASK AGAIN.