Most Indian Women are taught to be subservient, not confident. We are told that we need to listen, not speak up. I see many professional Indian women with hunched shoulders, not making eye contact in a meeting, not standing tall and not speaking up. Also women don’t ask for raises or negotiate for their job package. We need to get our voices heard to get what we deserve and to get ahead.
Being in a male dominated software industry, I started working on a persona that will get me heard despite my petite stature and soft voice. Here are five steps that will help Indian women build that confident and successful professional persona:
Think positive to start with, never ever think or say negative things about you or about what you are doing. We all have things which we can improve on, but focus on things you are really good at and that you enjoy doing. It doesn’t mean that you stop evolving as a person and start ignoring things to work on. Don’t use sentences like – ‘Sorry to take up your time’. Instead say, ‘Thank you for your time’. Don’t say – ‘I am terrible at….’. Instead say, ‘I am working to be better at….’. There are always two sides to a coin, try to focus on the positive side. A positive attitude goes a long way in bringing out a confident persona.
Our great scripture, the Bhagwat Gita, states, “Karmanye Vadhikaraste, Ma phaleshou kada chana, Ma Karma Phala Hetur Bhurmatey Sangostva Akarmani.” It means, do your task without being attached to the result. This detachment gives you additional confidence when you are doing your best but you don’t sound desperate for results. It helps you to be in the moment, to be present. When you are in your confident career woman persona – don’t think of the past, don’t worry about what will come next but be your best in the present moment. Give your hundred percent to it.
Develop body awareness – Stand tall, make sure that your shoulders are not hunched. Here are some simple yoga postures to bring out the confidence in you:
1. Standing on your heels with arms stretched above you, make yourself as tall as possible. Come back down after you have taken 2 deep breaths. Repeat twice.
2. Plant right foot firmly on the floor, raise the left foot and put it somewhere on your right leg (except the knee). Balance. Slowly outstretch your arms above you in a V shape. Stand tall and grounded like a tree but be ready to sway when needed so you don’t fall. Take a couple of deep breaths and focus. Repeat on the other side.
Practice, Practice, Practice – Practice your communication skills in front of the mirror or with trusted friends/ family members. Develop your professional voice. Bring out the voice that is confident and firm. Try not to ramble, but communicate in a way that is clear, concise and confident. Practice your listening skills so you don’t cut off others but come across as attentive. Find toastmasters in your area. They can really help with practicing your verbal skills.
Absorb it in: For a few minutes every day, find a quiet place, close your eyes and imagine the most confident you – either speaking at a public forum or asking for a raise or giving the toughest interview – whatever your situation might be. Say to yourself – ‘I am confident’, ‘I am successful’ or choose another affirmation that works for you. These positive affirmations will help in building a confident and professional persona that is necessary in today’s world.
Just one last thing, find a professional attire that works for you. It could be a saree, pant suit, jacket or anything that speaks to you about the confident professional woman you are about to become. Anytime you want that added confidence, put on your professional attire, like a superwoman ready to take on the world and bring out your confident career woman persona.
Go ahead – make that presentation to your CEO, present your idea to a VC or ask for a raise. Whatever your goal maybe, get closer to it!
This article was originally published on Womensweb.in