Do you wait to be tapped on the shoulder?

07.04.11 | Posted in Women & Business Women In Business

I’m really passionate about seeing women step up, ask for what they want, be clear with their communication and not apologise for being in the way.

It sounds straightforward, but it’s not always! I catch women apologising before they ask their colleagues for something (which is well within their job description) all the time. It goes something like this: “Oh, I’m really sorry, but would you mind getting me those numbers that I asked for yesterday?” We all need to learn to state what we need clearly and not feel any guilt for doing so. Perhaps that request could be rephrased as “I need those numbers that I asked for yesterday please”.

Women often feel that if they’re purposeful and direct in their communication that they’ll feel that they’re being ‘bossy’ or worse still, that others will label them a ‘bitch.’ Untrue! I watch my male colleagues ask for what they need clearly, and no one labels them as difficult.

The other thing I’m passionate about is helping women realise that often we wait to be asked for opportunities. We wait to be tapped on the shoulder, or for the opportunities to fall in our laps. I consider myself one of the most fiercely independent, ambitious and driven people you’re likely to meet, but I’ve done this before a few times.

I was on the board of an entrepreneurial group for four years before someone said to me: “Em, you’d make a great President you know”. It occurred to me that I’d spent the last four years thinking the same, but not communicating that or letting anyone know about it. I was waiting for it to happen to me, as opposed to taking charge and making it happen myself.

In June of this year, we’re working with Dr Lois Frankel – the woman who wrote the bestselling book ‘Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office: 101 Unconscious Mistakes Women Make That Sabotage Their Careers’. She’ll be presenting for Business Chicks at a seminar in Sydney, and I’d love you to experience her work – I can guarantee you you’ll walk out having learned a bunch of tips that’ll increase your confidence, your communication skills, and ultimately your career success. Get your ticket here.

I really hope to see you there, and that you’ll get your team and colleagues involved, as I really believe that everyone can benefit from Dr Frankel’s teachings.


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  1. Elle Smith

    Hi Emma,

    Great article, I actually thought of Lois when I read the title! Would love to be at that event, I think it would be a cracker!

    Glad your post came along my desk. Cheers :-)

  2. Catherine

    Fantastic Emma,

    I recently heard that men often earn more than women in the same position simply because they ask for more money, and aren’t scared of getting a no! This infuriates me no end – mainly because I can see timidity in myself in my professional role, which is so unlike my personal self. I’d love some tips on how to be assertive, confident and also how to determine just when is it appropriate to ask for help/money etc.

    I’ll see you at the event!


  3. Emma

    Thanks Catherine, for reading the post and for your comment – I couldn’t agree more. I know you’re going to receive some fantastic tips/advice from Dr Frankel – we’ll see you there!!

  4. Jenny Finter

    Signed up, great! And looking forward to future posts. One of the sucesses I am most proud of involved a degree of ‘resourcefulness’ on my part & stepping far outside my comfort zone. Both in and outside of the workplace I think challenging yourself is key and needs to be practiced regularly. A reminder to myself that I’m feeling far too comfortable lately…

  5. Lisa

    Hi Em,

    Great post – Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office was given to me by my mum a couple of years ago (complete with all her highlighted paragraphs). At the age of 48 my mum was contemplating how she operated in her workplace and she found it very useful. I also found it a useful read- great that it could speak to both of us at very different stages of our career.

    Did you see this recent post by Seth Godin about not waiting to be picked?



  6. Marian Meade

    Yes this is great! Thank you! And yes, Seth, as well as Scott Ginsberg speak about this idea of not waiting to be given permish quite a bit. Seems like it isn’t just a problem that women grapple with.

  7. Melanie Miller - Small Fish Business Coaching

    Great blog post Emma,

    I am a non-apologiser but still hold that fear that I will be seen as a bit of a bitch. I hate to say it but women still have a lot to learn from men in business – being unapologetic is one of them! I love Dr Frankels book. I must have read it 20 times now!