It’s hard not to get angry when you’re passed over for a promotion that goes to someone with less experience. Your head probably explodes a little bit every time someone interrupts you while you’re making an important point during a staff meeting — especially if that same person does it again and again, as if what she had to say were more important than what you were talking about. It might make you hopping mad when your boss takes credit for your great ideas or a coworker you thought you could trust goes behind your back to undermine you and get the project you told him you wanted.
Getting mad won’t get you want you want. Communicating better will.
Selling the Best Version of Yourself at Work
If you’re not clear with your managers and colleagues about what you want, expect, and deserve, you’re unlikely to get what you want, expect, and deserve. If you feel disrespected, marginalized, or invisible at work, it could be because you’re selling the wrong thing. It could be that you’re sending a message that tells others it’s okay to muffle your voice, steal your thunder, or pass you over.
It’s time to sell something different. It’s time to let your bosses and colleagues know you recognize your own value and expect them to recognize it as well.
Imagine a camera crew is at your workplace to shoot a commercial about you. What would that commercial sell? Would it show you in meeting after meeting, allowing more boisterous colleagues to shut you down midsentence again and again? Would it show you silently fuming over the loss of a project, promotion, or assignment? Would it show you crying in the bathroom or punching the wall or feeling humiliated because jealous colleagues were gossiping about you?
Are you selling that version of yourself at work?
The fact is, you teach people how to treat you. If you’re taking this kind of abuse without speaking up for yourself, it’s probably going to continue.
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Here’s how to change that commercial and start selling the version of yourself that gets what you want and deserve:
1. Speak Up
Ask for what you want: a promotion, raise, private office, shift change, respect, recognition, time to finish your sentence. If you don’t ask, you won’t get.
Don’t complain that the situation is unfair. Instead, convince your managers and colleagues that what you have to say is worth listening to, that you deserve an equal say, that you have earned the promotion or raise, or that undermining you won’t work.
Speak up in the moment. If someone interrupts you during a meeting, politely — but firmly — request that he wait his turn. If a promotion is on the table, make it clear that you want it and are qualified for it — before the opportunity passes.
2. Be Consistent
If you let others shut you down even once, they might consider that an invitation to try it again. Take every opportunity — in fact, look for opportunities — to reinforce to others that you have as much of a voice as they do and as much of a right to share your ideas and be considered for advancement.
3. Study the Behavior of Those Who Oppose You
What are they getting out of it? Listen to what they say and when. Are they targeting you because they believe you’re weak or because they have a need to dominate or draw attention to themselves? Are they undercutting you because they believe you’re going to get the promotion instead of them? If you listen and size people up, you might find a way to solve your problem without denying them what they need or want. The best solution is one that makes everyone happy.
4. Keep Track of the Unpleasant Incidents
Look for patterns: Does a colleague interrupt you only during meetings that a certain executive attends? Does the gossip always originate with a specific coworker who seems to fear you will outpace her?
Collecting this data will help you make a plan to counteract the potential damage from the bad treatment you’re experiencing. Making a plan will prepare you to react in the most effective and professional way the next time you encounter poor treatment. The more prepared you are, the less likely you will be to get flustered, back down, or fumble over your words.
5. Keep the Conversation Going
Protecting your reputation and staking your claim on what you deserve is an ongoing process. Follow up with colleagues who have agreed to change the way they treat you so they will know you appreciate their efforts and expect permanent change.
Once you’ve done all this, it’s time to imagine a new commercial. What are you selling now?
Dr. Cindy McGovern, known as the “First Lady of Sales,” is the author of Every Job is a Sales Job: How to Use the Art of Selling to Win at Work. For more information, visit Drcindy.com and connect with her on Twitter and LinkedIn.
Dr. Cindy McGovern, known as the “First Lady of Sales,” speaks and consults internationally on sales, interpersonal communication, and leadership. She is the author of “Every Job Is a Sales Job: How to Use the Art of Selling to Win at Work.” Dr. Cindy is the CEO of Orange Leaf Consulting, a sales management and consulting firm.