Want to be taken more seriously?
In today’s Financial Times, a columnist asked me and other experts to advise readers on being taken more seriously at work. You can read the piece on the FT’s website; however, the website requires registration (which is free), so I have also scanned the entire article.
By Rhymer Rigby
What should I do if I’m concerned?
First, you must discover if your reputation is unwarranted
“Ask yourself if your performance is as good as you think it is,” says Rob Yeung, a psychologist at the leadership consultancy Talentspace. “Are you just ticking the boxes? Are you going beyond your tasks and becoming influential? Do people know why they should seek you out?”
John Lees, author of Just The Job!, adds: “Take a hard look at yourself or work with a coach or mentor. Mentors are good at telling you how others see you. A mentor might say: ‘You think you’re easy-going but others think you’re too laid back’.”
Why might people not take me seriously?
“The most common reason is that people try too hard to be liked,” says David Pendleton of the organisational psychology consultancy Edgecumbe . “They try to ingratiate themselves by smiling and joking, they don’t challenge points of view and they work at the relationship but not the task. So you trade not being rejected for not being taken seriously.”
Mr Pendleton adds that not listening to others (meaning they don’t listen to you) can also give you a reputation for being a lightweight.
How do I increase my gravitas?
The best time is when circumstances change. “If you go to a new team, a new company or get a new boss, it’s easier,” says Mr Lees.
Similarly, he adds, it can just happen without any planning on your part. “You see a lot of people change in their late 20s and early 30s when they get their first management experience.”
Mr Yeung also suggests a bit of self-promotion. “Most people assume their results speak for themselves. But this isn’t true,” he says. “People who are well-regarded talk about their achievements. Speak up in meetings. If you don’t do this naturally make a list of points beforehand so you’re ready if someone calls on you or you see an opening.”
Mr Yeung adds it is also worth observing successful colleagues. “Look at people who are doing well. What are their skills and values and how could they work for you? Don’t copy outright; rather, adapt them.” Ultimately, he says, it is about adding value and ensuring people know it.
However, Mr Lees says, you need to be realistic. “You won’t go from a bumbling extrovert to slow and methodical. And it’s harder to do with people who have known you for a long time.”
Finally, he adds, for a few people being a lightweight may be the way forward. “Some people who do very well in their careers have blind spots. Rather than work to heighten their self-awareness, they just blunder on through regardless – and they succeed.”
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2013.