Yes: Early on in your career particularly, saying yes to new challenges is crucial. Women are notoriously bad at believing they can operate outside their comfort zone, but it’s often this that allows them to take a crucial career step. As you progress, keep saying yes. Take on a challenge, find resources and tackle something new. As any entrepreneur will tell you, you can almost always figure it out later. And, of course, that’s half the fun.
No: As you can probably tell, positivity’s our bag. But sometimes saying no is equally important. As Warren Buffett once said, “Successful people say no to almost everything.” In fact, saying no allows you to say yes when it matter most; to a new challenge perhaps. Whether it’s deflection, delegation or postponement, find a strategy to decline without causing offence and no can become the most powerful little word in your career arsenal.
How?: Inertia is the enemy of success. To progress you need to constantly update and innovate. Don’t stop learning. Be engaged. And never be afraid to ask a question. Not only is getting others to talk guaranteed to flatter them, making awkward networking a thing of the past, but you’ll discover new areas of interest, new contacts and new opportunities. You’ll gain respect as someone who knows what they’re doing but can admit when they don’t. And you’ll pick up so much along the way.
Hello: Allowing yourself to speak publicly can be career changing. Find your own style and if you have something interesting to say, bring energy and know your stuff, others will listen. Speak with honesty and integrity, using personal experience wherever possible. You’ll connect with unexpected people and raise your profile. Along with the vulnerability, will come respect and seniority. And who knows, you might even start to have fun.
Bye: Endings are always tricky. Linked with our dislike of negatives and our more developed empathetic side, women in particular can struggle to say goodbye. But when it’s time to leave – whether that’s your desk of an evening, a conversation at a drinks party or, even, your current role – don’t shy away from making the jump. A good ending leaves people with a positive image of the time you’ve spent with them. Never apologise or over-explain. Once you’ve accomplished your goal simply explain you have to move on. As long as you’ve fulfilled your obligations – and leave the door ajar for whatever it was to resume – your career will thank you for the early exit. Being the last woman standing is as much of a no-no at work as it is in the nightclub.