Women tend to go to extremes in the workplace, and it hurts us. For example, women can come across as too tough or too sharp in an effort to appear forceful and decisive, or too nice and too sweet to the point where we allow ourselves to be taken advantage of. A common example: Instead of giving an employee an assignment in a straightforward manner, some women managers sheepishly say, "Oh I hope I'm not bothering you, but would you mind doing this project?" Or they'll go the opposite route and bark the order, "I want this done and I want it done now." Neither way comes from a position of strength.
Work means not always having to say you're sorry On the flip side, some women allow themselves to be taken advantage of by always saying yes, while deep down they're furious at being buried in everyone else's tasks. Instead of shouting, "I can't take it anymore! Leave me alone," the next time someone tries to dump their work on your desk simply because they know you'll do anything, say, "You know, I've got so much of my own work to tackle right now, I won't be able to take on any of your work at this time." You don't have to be to be rude -- say it with a smile, but be firm.
Both when giving and getting work, don't apologize. That's what we have jobs for -- to work. Save "I'm sorry" for when you've truly done something wrong.
Negotiate! This is the one and only area where women can really take a cue from the guys. Men are simply more willing to speak up, especially when it comes to money, and that serves them quite well. Women must stop thinking we're not worthy, or we won't be liked if we ask for more. We can't afford to cheat ourselves out of the pay, positions, promotions and perks we deserve simply because we're not comfortable asking.
Men equate negotiating to sport; it's fun, healthy competition. Women cringe at asking for money as if it's a root canal -- but no smart gal would let her teeth rot. She'd get to that dentist for the procedure. The same logic applies to using her voice in any negotiation. Even if it's not comfortable, even if you don't relish it, you've got to do it anyway!
Tory Johnson is the Workplace Contributor on ABC's "Good Morning America" and the CEO of Women For Hire. Connect with her at www.womenforhire.com