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The Glass Ceiling is very, very real—and it's one of the biggest reasons why women earn less than men throughout their lifetimes. These days, a low salary can make or break your ability to put food on the table or even have a normal life.
The days where women can rely on men to bring home the bacon are long gone, and that means that you have to make every move possible to empower yourself at work. You need to have the guts to ask for that raise, get that promotion, and kick peoples' behinds into gear.
Of course, this is easier said than done. Here are some tips to help you gain more power at work and boost your bottom line.
Learn to talk yourself up and use power stances.
The easiest way to empower yourself at work is to act like you already have power. When you act like a big shot, you will become a big shot in the eyes of others.
Things like using "alpha male" body language like power stances and learning to talk yourself up are a great way to boost your self-esteem. This alone can help you focus on your work and also help you get the guts you need to ask for a promotion.
Don't wait for a promotion; ask for one.
The biggest difference between male and female workers is the way they behave when they want something. Male workers tend to ask for raises, and will often get them sooner as a result. Female workers often need raises, but are afraid to ask for them despite their needs.
Don't be afraid to ask for a review, and don't be afraid to ask for a raise. The worst they can say is no; the best that can happen is a raise that you so desperately need.
Do not engage the mean girls.
We have all heard about mean girls at work, and how they can make your career a living hell. They are catty, foul women who undercut other women because they can't stand competition. These stories are absolutely true, but that doesn't mean you should fall victim to them.
The best way to handle women who hate women is to not engage—and to feel sorry for them. Avoid them, don't give them ammunition, and be dull as a grey rock.
You kind of have to pity these kinds of women. After all, they can't be happy with themselves if they have to resort to this kind of behavior.
Sometimes, the best way to empower yourself is to leave your job.
Some jobs are just not female-friendly at all. There are certain workplace setups that, no matter what you try to do to remedy the situation, will still be toxic. These situations deal with management that does anything possible to hurt you, disenfranchise you, or let you know to "know your place."
If you find yourself regularly begging management to treat you with kindness or find yourself openly questioning if people even hear you, then the best way to empower yourself at work is to seek other jobs. No one deserves to be abused for a paycheck.
Stand up for yourself and know when someone is acting out of bounds.
Have you ever had a coworker or a boss who seems to try to push buttons with you just to rile you up? Did it seem like they just wanted to get under your skin? This is actually a form of workplace harassment and it's a sign that you're dealing with someone who is going to try to bully you.
The best way to deal with a bully is to not play their game. Whether this means ignoring them, pointing out their behavior, or just taking a painfully long time to answer them doesn't matter. What matters is that you show them that you're not going to tolerate their bullshit.
Study up on work laws, know when to start documenting, and know where to report them.
Employment laws are there to help you out and protect you from people who want to take advantage of you. As a woman, people tend to see you as a target that will be easier to take advantage of. This is doubly true if you are dealing with a lot of toxic masculinity at work.
The easiest way to begin empowering yourself at work is to learn the laws that protect you and keep an eye out for legal transgressions. When people realize that you know your rights, they are far less likely to try to do something shady.
Network with people who empower you.
Energy begets energy, and this is doubly true in the workplace. If you radiate "let me help you" energy to the world, good people who are also interested in uplifting others will notice.
As of right now, your biggest chance at empowering yourself at work lies within your network. When you have a squad that backs you up and also offers new opportunities, you'll find work to be way easier on you.
Be open to constructive criticism, but realize when people are just nitpicking.
You can't please everyone, but you can please the right people.
The best way to empower yourself at work is to realize when you may be wrong, and when you should listen to the advice of others. If veterans who are very accomplished critique you, you should listen to them. By following the right guidance, you will see better success.
On the other hand, it's also important to be wary of nitpickers. They rarely do anything but wreck your work and hurt your self-esteem.
Tell others your career goals.
What do you want to do in five years? In 10? In 15? If you're not on track to doing it, then ask yourself why you're not getting there. In many cases, making your career goals known is the easiest way to empower yourself at your workplace.
You would be surprised at how many people will be supportive of your goal pursuits if you let them know. Heck, you might even find a mentor, an investor, or a sponsor.
Keeping your mouth closed affects you adversely in more ways than one. One of the biggest career lessons people learn too late is finding out the importance of advocating for yourself and your own personal goals.
Assume you earned it.
Most women who are in high power positions suffer from something called Impostor Syndrome. This syndrome is characterized by the feeling that you didn't earn your right to be there, and a deep fear that you may be "found out."
Believe it or not, negative people can detect Impostor Syndrome from a mile away and use it against good people. The easiest way to combat those feelings and to empower yourself at work is to just assume you've earned your seat at the table.