Female assertiveness coach Jodes Salt shares five tips on how women in business can assert their way to the top

“Men and women are different. That’s a good thing, and each bring different qualities to the table. Once you recognise that neither is better or worse than the other, it’s easier to bring your authentic self to work and to value diversity.

Jodes Salt, assertiveness coach  

Jodes Salt knows a thing or two about getting where she wants to be. A serial business owner with 20 years’ experience in corporate development for blue chip companies, she came into her own when she co-founded Ladies Life Lounge in 2019 – a members’ club to support female confidence in the workplace and in their personal lives.

For Salt, there’s one aspect of women’s work lives that needs to be grabbed with both hands. Women are more likely to apologise than men and to undervalue their work. This, she says, must end for women to consistently succeed – and she has the solution.

“Assertiveness is the 21st-century skill that every woman in business needs,” says Salt. “But it’s a misunderstood skill. Most people liken it to being direct and bossy, and society generally views assertiveness as a male skill. But assertiveness is actually the combination of just two ingredients: consideration and courage. It lends itself better to females when they choose to tap into it.”

In her signature corporate talk, Woman Up, Salt encourages women to rise up and own their space. Here, she gives Modern Woman five exclusive insights into how she coaches women in business to embrace assertiveness.

 

Jodes Salt’s five top tips

#1. Avoid falling into the ‘boys’ club mentality’

“We all know a woman leader who has turned into the ‘alpha female bitch from hell’ and it does nothing for her credibility, influence, respect, likeability or results. In the absence of a better role model, many women subconsciously fall into the trap of believing that to be successful they must behave like a man (and often the examples around her don’t really demonstrate what good looks like, even for men).

“Men and women are different. That’s a good thing, and each bring different qualities to the table. Once you recognise that neither is better or worse than the other, it’s easier to bring your authentic self to work and to value diversity. It’s time for the workplace to have a bit of humanity, compassion and emotional intelligence injected back into it and women often possess these skills in abundance.”

#2. Articulate your emotions, rather than demonstrate them

“I often coach female leaders who have been told they’re too emotional at work. When exploring examples, crying is usually the top of the list. It’s worth noting that for a significant number of female leaders, their step into senior leadership often comes as the hormones start to fluctuate and they’re experiencing signs of perimenopause. We must start to acknowledge this, talk about it and take positive actions to support ourselves.

“Crying itself is not an emotion. There are a number of emotions that can be at the source of it. Sadness, frustration, anger, embarrassment, humiliation, passion. Your first job here is to be able to recognise and label your own emotions. You’d be surprised to know just how many people (not just women) don’t know what emotion they’re experiencing. The reason that this is important is so that you can articulate it, rather than demonstrate it. Then, once you feel an emotion take hold, you’re able to spot it proactively, press the pause button and manage yourself in a different way. It might sound something like: ‘I’m really cross at the way you challenged me in front of the client, I felt humiliated and it’s affected the trust in our relationship.”

#3. Negotiate a pay rise with confidence

“It’s your annual appraisal, you know you deserve a pay rise, or you’re pursuing a gender pay gap issue? Assertiveness is your friend. Many studies and surveys have revealed that men find self-promotion far easier than women and they take credibility for success easier.

So is it time to start practising your power poses? Maybe, but sometimes it’s as simple as the language you use. Where a man might use terms like ‘I delivered or I achieved’, a woman will more likely say ‘we’ and ‘helped’ or ‘supported’. Take ownership for your achievements and step into your own space to demonstrate your worth and value. Be as specific and succinct as possible.”

 

#4. Unleash your inner daredevil

“Studies show that men will apply for a job if they are competent at two out of 10 of the required capabilities. A woman, on the other hand, won’t apply if there are only two that she can’t do. In some instances, we’re holding ourselves back when we might actually have a shot. It’s time to deploy the daredevil in you. Feel the fear and do it anyway. What have you got to lose?”

#5. Getting a decision signed off

“You know your stuff, yet you feel like your ideas can fall on deaf ears. Why do they listen to the others and not you? Why is it that an external consultant can walk in one day and say the same thing that you’ve been saying for the last six months – and they instantly go for it?

“It’s time to demonstrate your authority. This is not about who shouts the loudest, although you’ll see a few attempting to deploy that strategy. Firstly, make sure you can articulate yourself clearly and succinctly. Then, remember that body language accounts for 55% of communication. That said, take advantage of your vocal dashboard. Slow down, turn the volume up a tad and project.

“Finally, persistence beats resistance. Very few people recognise that a big part of assertiveness is having tenacity and grit. Don’t give up at the first hurdle. You got this.”

Thanks to Jodes Salt for providing her insight. 

Read more of Modern Woman’s top tips.

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