Have you ever felt your height (or lack thereof) has hindered your confidence or respect?
Like this accomplished business woman who asked at a live event I hosted:
“I’m the only female on a senior team. I’m barely 5 feet tall with heels. And I often feel that my value is being dismissed. I can’t suddenly become six inches taller! What can I do to feel more confident and be more respected?”
Feel You’re Being Dismissed Because You’re Short?
I get it. Being only 5 feet, 2 inches tall myself, it’s easy to feel height-challenged (AKA down right short!). This particularly started to bother me as I was on the brink of the next big career jump.
After 10 years and four promotions in my corporate career, I was ready for more and trying to make it happen. I was started to think being short wasn’t helping.
Then, one day I was lamenting these feelings to a trusted, female colleague who was dozen years older and much wiser.
“I’m afraid I’m not being taken seriously,” I told her.
I Will Never Forget Her Response
“Oh, that won’t happen once you open your mouth” she responded without a blink.
Instantly I knew she was right and that I was setting myself up for feeling “less than” when there was no need. I was making an assumption that others were limiting me because of my height. In reality, I was feeding my fears and limiting myself.
Making wrong assumptions and feeding your fears isn’t just for those who are short. I have a female colleague who is taller and bigger than most women. She struggles with others feeling intimidated by her when she’s one of the friendliest people you could meet.
Regardless of your height, here are 3 behaviors every business woman can use to feel more confident and garner more respect.
#1 Remember who you are, what you’ve accomplished, and what value you bring to the company or client.
That’s what the best clients and organizations really care about. So, hold your head up high, relax, and smile. That’s confidence from the inside out.
#2 Don’t buy into societal beliefs that women aren’t respected.
Make your beliefs based on your experiences, not the aggregated statistics or beliefs of others. Chances are you have been shown respect far more often than not – by co-workers, friends, family, neighbors, grocery store clerks, toll booth tellers, waiters, receptionists, and more. Act as if it will happen again and it will.
#3 Open your mouth.
My friend was right. My words, tone, and delivery – along with non-verbal body language and dress – are far more powerful and have far more influence on others than how close I am to the floor.
And for those who are on the short side like me, here’s a bonus:
#4 Utilize the advantages of being shorter.
You’re often considered more approachable and friendly. You are also more easily underestimated. Which makes it easier to start conversations with people and over impress them! I don’t know about you, but I like the idea of over-delivering.