Vincy Workplace
January 28, 2005
Empowering women in the workplace – How you look and sound

Sometimes it’s the simple things that women do that sabotage their careers.

There are no business finishing schools to teach women how to thrive in the workplace so many learn the hard way. Here are a few common mistakes that often derail or delay their careers.{{more}}

Wrong choice of clothing.

Women have an array of choices of what to wear to work, but that has proven to be detrimental for some. The old adage, “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have,” needs to be reiterated. Plan your wardrobe and buy wisely; work is not a fashion show. Avoid clothing that is too tight, trendy, revealing or casual and suits are always great depending on the job.

Bad make-up choices. Make-up is suppose to enhance your appearance not bury it amidst a rainbow of colours. Be conservative in your make-up choices; ditch the designer nail colours and replace them with neutral colours. The dark coloured lipsticks (blue and black) and very bright eye highlights should be reserved for the weekend. Make-up should accentuate.

It’s all in the voice.

Is yours too fast, too soft or too high pitched? Many women do not understand the power in a voice as they’ve been socialized to speak softly and in a high pitched voice. Take a few minutes to record and evaluate your voice. Remember to speak audibly so your listener does not have to keep asking you to repeat yourself. If you speak too fast it could be sign that you feel rushed to finish what you have to say and that you are insecure. Slow down, speak clearly and slowly as what you have to say is important so do not minimize it.

Too much smiling.

A smile when used appropriately can be a tool to build rapport with an audience or soften a tense situation. However, women have a tendency to smile so much or in the most inappropriate times that it lessens their authority. Don’t lose your smile altogether but be strategic when you smile.

Make eye contact.

When you maintain eye contact it shows confidence, respect and that you understand how to play the game of work. Unfortunately women have been taught to be shy and avoid eye contact. Look people in the eye when speaking and observe how they behave; practice being a self-assured, confident woman.

Karen Hinds works with companies and professionals to develop their competitive edge through effective communications, image management and customer service. Send comments and suggestions to