By Steph Chu
At a recent conference, I was pleased to see that the panel assembled on stage was a 50:50 mix of men and women – a refreshing change. Everyone on stage was a senior figure in their respective companies and they were obviously top decision makers. All was going well, until I heard the following introduction. “Hi, my name is XXX and it’s great to be here today. I am no expert. I am just the Marketing Director of YYY.”
Now YYY happens to be a major, global insurance broker that works predominantly with private banks. This lady was a big shot but the way she introduced herself made her seem like just another person in the company. She undersold herself and undermined her position in that company.
In my 16-year consulting experience in eight countries across Asia, Europe, and other continents, I have noticed that many women tend to undersell themselves. As women, we are socialised to take a back seat and be the supportive partner or assistant.
Some of you may be saying, “But this is Asia, she was just being modest, she doesn’t actually mean it.” This may be true, if she had not started with, “I am not an expert.” Before we really knew anything about her, she had already put herself down. As Asians, we are brought up to believe it is courteous not to brag. In trying to be humble, we end up fighting for our limitations as we undersell our accomplishments. Sometimes even our mothers don’t know what they have accomplished!
Have you ever undersold yourself when everyone else around you believes you are awesome? Have you every declined a new role at work because you felt you weren’t ready, even though you have done the work before, without the title? Have you ever kept quiet at a meeting because everyone else around the table was male and you believed that their point was more valid?
The good news is, you’re not alone. The bad news is, you are your biggest enemy! When you undersell yourself, especially to strangers, guess what? They are going to believe you! They don’t know that in reality you’re highly competent at your job.
Compare these two introductions:
1. Hi, my name is Stephanie Chu, the founder of Empower Pte Ltd, and we specialise in coaching women leaders who want to build engaged and motivated teams.
2. Hi, my name is Stephanie Chu. I’m just the founder of Empower Pte Ltd, and we specialise in coaching women leaders who want to build engaged and motivated teams.
What is your perception of the person with the first introduction? What about the second? When you meet the second person, will you be confident about their abilities?
Think about this – the only difference between the two introductions is ONE word. One tiny little word is the difference between leaving the other party feeling confident about your abilities versus feeling completely uncertain.
How will you introduce yourself tomorrow?
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Chef Sam Leong’s career spans high-end restaurants, TV shows, numerous