Thursday, March 8, 2012

A Crash Course In Standing Up For Yourself (In Business)

by Sarah Davis
This gal's story looks pretty vague.  She looks happy and confident, but you don't
know too much else.  Keep your business demeanor that way.
I think entrepreneurship is very different for men and women.  Maybe not for everyone, but I know that for myself, especially lately, it has been hard for me to say no to people.  I get so many requests and my plate is so full that I can't take on everything that comes my way.  I would need three of me.  I think for women, we want to be friends with everyone and see the light in everyone, but in business, it's an emotion-free, number oriented world.  You need to be strong, firm, and make no apologies for the decisions you make.  I wanted to make a little list of things to remember the next time you have to tell someone to back off, or tell them you can't do something for them and you feel scared or nervous because you think you're being mean. I had a conversation with someone today that really inspired me to write a list of guidelines for my business interactions.  (Disclaimer- this is for people starting their own business or working hard to get a promotion.  It isn't for how to interact with boyfriends or parents.)It's really important to remember that being nice to people on the street is something different than being nice to someone when it comes to business.  You have to maintain a strong presence.  

1. Establish that you aren't a pushover the very moment you meet someone.  For men, it's all about a strong handshake, but for women, it's in your demeanor.  Don't slouch, dress for success, and even if you are terrified, keep a smile on your face.  

2. Say No with confidence. You can't do everything and you certainly don't have to.  People love free stuff, but your business isn't a soup kitchen.  If you can't afford even a can of soup for yourself while running a business, you need to learn how to start saying No.   Some of the best advice I have EVER received is to always keep your No's short and vague.  When it comes to family & friends, you may be expected to give a detailed explanation of when you can't do something or you need to take a break from someone's tactics, but in business, it's all about keeping it as ambiguous as possible.  Why? Because this establishes that you might consider doing business with someone in the future.  Oh, and always be ultra positive.  For instance, instead of saying "I'm done working with you because you f-ing stole my ideas and I want to punch you", you might want to say, "Thank you for this amazing opportunity, but unfortunately, I can't get to your project at this time." You don't need to let someone who you don't want to work with what you're thinking.  Chances are, they're pretty clueless and it's best to keep it that way. 

People are usually scared to say No because they fear they might lose out on something, but the reality of the situation is that if you don't say No and you keep a gate open, you never know what is going to come in.  
3. It's not a Disney movie out there.  It's a little more "Saving Private Ryan." In church, in a room full of children, or a room of family, it's okay to believe everyone is worth your trust and everyone seriously wants the best for you.  Everywhere else, keep your ideas to yourself, copyright everything, and don't befriend just anyone.  People love to: crucify people who love what they're doing, crucify people who have a job that they want, and they love to kick you under the curb in the hopes that they can successfully take your idea and pass it off as their own (and since you're laying in a ditch or dead under a bus, no one will ever know it was yours first.) Don't be a moron: just because you're on the path of meditation or exploring Jesus Christ, doesn't mean that EVERYONE ELSE is.  People are assholes.  Be prepared.  

4. People treat you the way you let them.  The amount of shit you take from people is literally your choice.  Speak up! Tell people how you want to be treated.  If they don't like it, they're not worth your time anyway.  Being walked on and treated like you don't matter is WAY worse than not having that person in your life.  

5. Do NOT gossip with people.  People who love to gossip, particularly with people they've just met, usually are gossiping ALL the time.  You can be 100% sure they are talking about you when you're not with them and anything you say, will probably get passed along.  Be a classy woman and avoid gossiping to anyone you don't trust completely.  People who gossip do nothing but start problems at work. Don't let them drag you down by participating in what they're up to.  

6. Keep your social networking tone as cheerful as possible. As I mentioned above, DO NOT give information that is incriminating to you to people who aren't on your side.  It's as simple as that.  People don't need to know anything else besides the fact that you are confident that your business is booming.  If you own a business, it is never appropriate to hop onto Facebook and write, "AHH-I'm so angry that people keep screwing me over." Likewise, it's never appropriate to hop onto Facebook and say, "So stoked I just earned a mill and I'm hanging with Kanye later! Probably sucks that you aren't me!" Keep it clear that business is booming and you couldn't be happier but keep it pretty vague.  I know sometimes it's fun to act like you're Kelly Oxford and criticize the world on Twitter, but you're running a business, keep your dry sense of humor reserved for real conversations.

7. Stop problems before they happen.  We interviewed Adrienne Maloof a few weeks ago, who is an incredible business woman and some of her wise words were to cut problems before they happen.  If you spot a problem forming or a person acting strange, immediately take action.  If you wait, things can get really out of hand and exhausting.  

8. You'll be surprised that mouthing off for the sake of your business' integrity will earn you respect. For some reason, I think as women, some of us are scared to act like a biatch to keep our business on top because we're scared someone will be offended.  But, people have TONS of respect for anyone who not only believes in their work, but will fight for it when no one else will.  

xoxo, the style & wisdom girls
Photo Credit: Pinterest

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