How to Increase Your Visibility and Power

How to Increase Your Visibility and Power

As I discussed last week, I recently came across one of my old newsletter articles listing 25 behaviors women exhibit in the workplace that cause them to lose power and visibility. Unfortunately, many women today still practice those behavioral traits, and by doing so they handicap their own careers.

Part one of my blog about these behaviors, which was posted last week, talked about the first 11 items on that list, including how to present yourself in meetings and how to promote your achievements. The comments I received in response, from both men and women, were encouraging, and included such words as “interesting,” “fascinating,” and “good stuff.” The analytics from the posting showed that many people forwarded the blog to colleagues, and others posted it on their Facebook pages or tweeted it to their followers.

I believe that this week’s discussion will be equally helpful. Part two picks up mid-list, and offers suggestions (below) about several other areas in which you can increase your visibility and power, and help your own career.

Related: The 'Halo Effect' and Its Positive Benefits


12. Don’t say, “I don’t know,” when you do know.

These are the three little words that many women use towards the end of their comments that wipe out their credibility. A woman may outline her thoughts on a topic and then say, “Oh, I don’t know,” or “But I don’t know...what do you think?” 

13. Watch out for “I think.” 

If you say “I think,” you are indicating that you are unsure or don’t know. If that is true, then the use of “I think” is okay. But women have a tendency to use “I think” when they know. One vice president wanted to persuade a client that her company could meet the client’s deadline. During her presentation, she said, “I think we will meet your deadline.” The client went elsewhere.

14. Use direct statements instead of questions. 

When you use a question instead of a statement, you are giving the other person the opportunity to say “no.” Instead of giving away your power by asking, “Can I add something?” say, “I’d like to add to that.” Instead of asking, “Could you clarify that statement?” say, “I need additional information.” More information on assertiveness can be found in my book, The Power of Positive Confrontation.  

15. Speak loudly. 

If I could say just one thing to women, after 20 years of helping them to get and maintain the visibility they deserve, it would be: “Speak up!” Women often speak too softly, and make it easy for others to tune them out. 

16. Eliminate the giggle. 

Many women giggle at the end of their sentences, and often don’t realize it. It makes them sound like little girls, and that’s a real power drain. Ask a trusted friend or colleague whether you have this tendency, or try to listen to yourself. One woman found out she had this habit when she heard her twin sister giggling at the end of her sentences. 


17. Greet and acknowledge others. 

As you walk around, say hello to people – the ones you know and those you don’t know. Many employees judge the effectiveness of their managers on whether they greet and acknowledge others. 

18. Enter a room confidently.

 Walk into a room as though you belong there. Keep your head up and your shoulders back. Have a deliberate stride.  

19. Make small talk. 

I hear lots of reasons from women why they don’t want to make small talk. Some women say it’s not their personality. Others say if they make small talk with men, the men will think they are flirting. Think again! Small talk is an important business tool. It breaks the ice with people, establishes common ground, and allows people to get to know one another better. And you can talk to men without your intentions being misunderstood. Just keep the talk professional and not too personal. 

20. Be proactive. 

Go up to people at professional gatherings. Don’t just wait for people to come to you. Introduce yourself with a line like, “Hello, I’m Barbara Pachter. I’m one of the speakers for the meeting. And you are…?” Shake hands, also. 


21. Pay attention to your body language.

Don’t cross your ankles while standing. An amazing number of women still do this. It makes them look awkward and nervous. Stand assertively – no slouching, and feet shoulder-width apart. Don’t wring your hands or play with rubber bands, paperclips, or your hair. If you do, you are telling people you are nervous. 

22. Shake hands correctly. 

Many women weren't taught to shake hands. Others are under the impression that women don’t have to shake hands. Wrong! And a limp handshake is almost worse than no handshake. To shake hands correctly, touch thumb joint to thumb joint. Your grip should be firm but not bone-breaking. 

23. Stand up when shaking hands. 

Many women also were taught that they do not need to stand. I disagree. Women do need to stand, otherwise they are sending the message: “I’m not as important.” You are on more equal footing when you stand up. When I shake hands with the participants in my seminars, only 35% of the women stand; 75% percent of the men stand.  

24. Dress appropriately. 

A very bright and competent woman was told she wasn’t promoted because of her sexy dressing habits. In a professional situation, you don’t want to wear clothing that’s too low, too short, too sexy, or too anything. Think about the message you are sending when you wear short skirts. You’re not saying, “Look at me because I know what I’m doing.” You’re saying, “Look at me because I have great legs.” Additional information on business and business casual dress can be found in my book, The Essentials of Business Etiquette: How to Greet, Eat, and Tweet Your Way to Success. 

25. Don’t become the “mother.” 

Your role is not to “take care of” or “baby” others. After a coaching session with me, a woman cleared the table as we were leaving my office. When I asked her why she did this, she said, “I guess I feel like it’s my responsibility to clean up messes.” 

Women who want successful careers can, and should, take a look at their own behavior in the workplace to make sure that they aren’t holding themselves back.

Barbara Pachter
Personal Development
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Barbara Pachter is an internationally-renowned business etiquette and communications speaker, coach and author of 10 books, including The Essentials of Business Etiquette: How ... Click for full bio

Most Read IRIS Articles of the Week: March 19-23

Most Read IRIS Articles of the Week: March 19-23

Here’s a look at the Top 11 Most Viewed Articles of the Week on, March 19-23, 2018

Click the headline to read the full article.  Enjoy!

1. Multi-Factor or Not Multi-Factor? That Is the Question

Let’s pretend you are a US investor that wants to deploy some of your money overseas.  You think international developed market stocks are attractive relative to US stocks, and you also think the US dollar will decline over the period you intend to hold your investment.  — Chris Shuba

2. The Lies Spread by Bankers About Cryptocurrencies

I had a chat with The Financial Times the other day, and provided lots of background as to why I don’t think cryptocurrencies are the choice of criminals. The comment that was reported was the following ... — Chris Skinner

3. Alternative Investments? You May Need New Shock Absorbers!

During the tumultuous red and green gyrations of the capital markets this year have your clients anxiously called to ask: “What’s going on with my portfolio?” What do you do when the usually smooth ride in your luxury automobile becomes as bumpy as Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride in the Happiest Place on Earth? What does the average investor do? — Ted Parker

4. Why Fear of Inflation Is Rattling Investors

Inflation is a bad thing, right? It make things more expensive, right? For those of us of, let’s say, a certain vintage, we recall the runaway inflation of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. So why does the Federal Reserve – in charge of managing the country’s currency and value thereof – actually try to create inflation? It’s called the inflation targeting and it matters to your money. — Bill Acheson

5. The Best Retirement Investments for a Steady Stream of Income

As you near your 60’s, your prime earning and saving years will transition into a period of time where you get to enjoy the “fruits of your labor,” a.k.a retirement. We call this segueing from accumulation to decumulation, the period when you will be drawing from your accumulated nest egg. Dana Anspach

6. An Emerging Theme In Thematic Investing

Exchange traded funds (ETFs) are popular vehicles for market participants looking to engage in thematic investing. Thematic investing looks to take advantage of future growth trends, including disruptive technologies. Given that forward-looking approach, stock-picking in the thematic universe is equally as hard, if not harder, than in traditional market segments. — Tom Lydon

7. 8 Winning Questions You Should Be Asking Every Prospect

It’s not enough for your salespeople to be product experts, they also need to be capable of having the kind of conversations that position them as business experts and even strategic resources. — Lisa Rose

8. 10 Steps to Successful Strategic Alliances

Business growth doesn’t come from wishful thinking. As you know, it takes a lot of hard work. The growth of your business is not an option – it is a necessity. Coordinating the right mix of strategies to gain market share and improve client acquisition rates is essential to advance your firm in today’s economy. — Michelle Mosher​​​​​​​

9. Keep It Light: Harnessing Humor for Financial Marketing Success

It’s undoubtedly true that investors’ financial security is no laughing matter, and this is reflected in the stolid, dour, reliable imagery and branding that is, by and large, the industry standard. This is hardly surprising—investors need to believe they’re placing their hard-earned money in the hands of experienced, trustworthy professionals. — Alexandra Levis​​​​​​​

10. Do the Economics of a Move to Independence Really Add Up?

The number one question advisors ask when exploring a move to independence is how the economics compare to accepting a recruiting package from a major firm. It’s certainly a valid concern, because while the recruiting deals being offered by the wirehouses are down, it is still very possible for a top advisor to get a really attractive hard-to-pass-up offer. — Mindy Diamond

11. Four Big Reasons Why Short-Term Muni Bonds Should Excite You

Municipal bonds might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a sexy investment. They don’t typically command news headlines like the stock market or bitcoin. — Frank Holmes

Douglas Heikkinen
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IRIS Co-Founder and Producer of Perspective—a personal look at the industry, and notables who share what they’ve learned, regretted, won, lost and what continues ... Click for full bio