There are quite a few upsides related to being a young woman who’s totally dominating in her chosen career field. Perhaps the biggest is the undeniable satisfaction of doing work you love—and doing it well at that.
But, despite the numerous positives associated with being successful, there’s one common problem you’ve likely run into at least once or twice: being taken seriously.
We all crave a certain level of respect for the things we’ve accomplished. However, as you already know, that’s not always a given—even when you’re a young woman who is making waves or experiencing awesome success in your own career.
Believe me, I’ve been there. I once had a middle-aged man ask if I started my own business so it’d be easier for me to stay home when I had children. I had another inquire about what I did for a living only to respond with, “Oh, so your husband makes the money then?”
Yes, assumptions like these are infuriating. But, let’s save those sexism rants for another day. Instead, let’s focus on the part of the situation we actually have some control over—putting your best foot forward in an effort to be perceived the right way.
As my mother always likes to remind me, respect is something you earn. So, if you’re eager to be taken more seriously as an intelligent and capable young professional (aren’t we all?), these tips are for you.
1. Be Respectable
I get it—this first point seems so obvious it’s almost eye-roll worthy. But, while it might seem painfully elementary to you, it’s something that’s all too often overlooked entirely.
Of course, huge accomplishments and undeniable success will help you make strides in earning the respect of people around you. However, what’s even more important? Being a kind, dependable, and all-around respectable person.
This ties back to those basic things you already know you need to do—like always being polite, honoring deadlines, keeping promises, and doing your best work.
Remember, earning the respect of others all starts with simply being a good person.
Remember, earning the respect of others goes well beyond any long list of impressive awards and accolades you can list underneath your name. It all starts with just being a good person—that’s the type of person who not only commands respect, but deserves it too.
2. Communicate Effectively
You’ve heard it time and time again, that communication is key. And, used effectively, it definitely goes a long way in presenting you as a polished professional who deserves to be taken seriously.
For starters, it’s time to cut those filler words we all tend to fall back on. No matter how moving or insightful your pitch or presentation is, it simply won’t hold the same impact if it’s littered with “likes” and “umms.” Cutting out the fluff and zoning in on your point in a concise way will instantly make you appear more self-assured and worthy of being listened to.
Another thing you’ll want to completely eliminate? Qualifiers. I get it—prefacing your suggestions with things like, “This is probably a bad idea, but…” seems like an effective way to demonstrate you’re sharing something that’s a little half-baked. But, shooting down your own contributions before they’re even out of your mouth is a surefire way to inspire everyone else to tune you out.
The bottom line is this: Take a deep breath and communicate with confidence. It will make a big difference in the way you’re perceived by those around you.
3. Think Body Language
Equally important as the words you’re saying is your body language. After all, your perfectly polished spiel is going to lose a lot if you deliver it all while staring at the ground and fidgeting with your hair.
Your body language is crucial for portraying confidence—and, a certain level of confidence is important for demonstrating that you deserve the respect and attention of other people.
So, pull your shoulders back and hold your head high. Maintain eye contact with the people you’re conversing with. Ensure you have a firm handshake and make conversational gestures away from your body.
These are all marks of someone who’s polished, poised, and self-assured—and someone worthy of being seriously listened to.
4. Own Your Accomplishments
Think of the last time someone paid you a genuine compliment. If you’re anything like most people, you responded with some sort of humble reply like, “Oh, that was really no big deal” or even, “Ugh, I thought it turned out terribly!”
First of all, your efforts to display some humility and avoid rubbing your accomplishments in someone else’s face are admirable—nobody likes an arrogant egomaniac. But, think about the flipside of your attempts to be humble: If you don’t appear to respect yourself, why should anyone else?
Make it obvious that you respect yourself, and other people will follow suit.
Don’t be afraid to own your successes and celebrate your own wins—in a way that’s respectful and not too over the top, of course. This doesn’t mean you’re gloating. Instead, you’re just taking a moment to recognize that the hard work you put in truly paid off. Make it obvious that you respect yourself and your own accomplishments, and other people will follow suit.
5. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
We’ve touched on the concept of confidence quite a bit in this article—and, for good reason. As mentioned a few times already, self-confidence and being taken seriously go hand in hand.
Another mark of a self-assured person? Not getting overly worked up about the small things. Respected people have enough inner confidence to not spiral into a frenzy at the first sight of a snarky comment or snide remark from somebody else.
Yes, criticisms and backhanded comments are always going to sting a little bit. But, don’t let them destroy you or doubt yourself. One person’s opinion does not make up the collective whole.
And, if someone doesn’t respect you? Remember, it’s more that person’s problem than it is yours. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and move on. That resilience alone proves you’re worthy of far more appreciation than that particular person is willing to provide.
No matter who you are, being taken seriously isn’t always easy. But, it can become especially challenging as a young woman.
Don’t let that hold you back! Instead, implement these five tips and prove you’re worthy of the respect and consideration of your colleagues, peers, and even your superiors. Remember, respect is something that’s earned—and the ball is in your court.