Channeling Barbie: Career Advice for Professional Women

After the last post, decided to quickly check out Mr. McKee's (the career strategist's with the schmoozing advice) web site, and found the following item.  Question:  Are there REALLY any women who behave this way in the work place, because I certainly haven't seen any Particularly those who include smiley faces on emails to new business contacts.... Excerpt from John McKee's book.... Acting Like a Girl Instead of a Woman I've never heard a CEO giggle. I doubt very many people have. Being giggly is a bad thing for any woman trying to work her way up the corporate ladder. Linguist Deborah Tannen, in a study she conducted for her book You Just Don't Understand: Women and Men in Conversation, found that women laugh 126 percent more often than men. And unfortunately, this laughter is not relegated to personal life. Young girls giggle, not mature leaders. Doing so is a sign of nervousness and self-consciousness. I've heard many women giggle a bit just after saying something, and it diminishes the impact of what they have said. Both the message and its messenger become less credible. Giggling aside, being overly humorous is not the best approach you can take if you're a woman who wants to be taken seriously within your organization. Even when the men in your group kid around, it's a good idea to tone down your involvement. For men, humor is an easy way of appearing to be involved with subordinates without actually having to be involved. When a boss acts funny or playful, he's not showing care or affection. As we've discussed, it's not personal. Another common pitfall is being overly familiar in email. One executive I know was floored when she received an email message from a potential client, one she hadn't met or spoken to, that was similar in tone to the ones her teenage daughter wrote: "I'm soooooo glad you emailed. My computer crashed and I lost all your contact information." My executive friend was delighted with this reply as it clearly indicated to her who would have the upper hand in this business relationship. Or the banker who sent an email to her new clients that began, "WOW! Thank you for all of your business!!!" Excessive use of exclamation marks, flowery borders, and smiley faces belong on personal correspondence, not business correspondence. Ever gone for lunch with a friend who just can't make up her mind about what to order, or wants the restaurant to make a lot of substitutions? This sort of thing will send all the wrong messages during a business meal. Men generally don't worry about what they're going to eat and neither should women. If you can't decide on a simple lunch order, how can you be trusted to make critical business decisions? Choose your meal quickly, with a minimum of fuss, and then you can get down to business. If alcohol is served at your business function, don't overindulge. Nothing screams "girl" more than being tipsy or, worse, drunk. Don't try to keep up with the men. Put your hand over your wine glass or, if you're hosting the event, speak to a member of the staff ahead of time to make sure they go lightly on your refills. Make sure you have plenty of water and drink lots of it. Giggling is hard to consciously control, but control it you must. It has the same effect that qualifying your statements does”it negates the idea. If you have something to say, tell yourself ahead of time that you will end your sentence with a period, not a giggle. As with much self-defeating behavior, practice, diligence, and time will crack it. For some, giggling is a stress-relieving habit. If this sounds like you, it will be beneficial to find the underlying reasons for your stress and discover ways to alleviate it in a more productive fashion. When your boss gets playful with you, you can smile and acknowledge the humor, but don't get lured in. You have to find a balance between not insulting him and maintaining your professional demeanor. When shaking hands, make sure your grip is firm. Treat email correspondence with the same care as a memo written on paper. No smiley faces. Whether overcome with happiness, anger, or sadness, don't cry in the office. Go for a walk, go to the washroom, go to your car, but don't cry in the office. Executives don't cry. Don't chew gum. Choose your office decorations carefully. No Barbie memorabilia”unless you are the CEO of Mattel. -AMS