computer woman in office


Here is some of the best workplace advice for women that I’ve received from five wise woman bosses.

1. Never cry at work.

This one should be a no-brainer, but I have still seen women cry in the workplace at almost every job I’ve had. Why shouldn’t they be doing this? Well, when was the last time you saw one of your male colleagues shed a few tears at work? Probably never, right? That’s my point.

National disasters and news of a death in the family aside, we should be able to maintain professionalism and hold it together emotionally. Crying after your boss has given you some negative feedback or your idea has been shot down in a meeting is not going to garner more respect, particularly from men.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying that you need to be the quintessential ice queen. I’m saying that you can accurately convey your passion, anger, disappointment or determination without behaving in an emotionally volatile way. The bottom line is that poise is praised, and being overly emotional may hold you back from being promoted, put in charge of crucial projects or being assigned to key client accounts.

And if you’re constantly fighting the urge to cry, you may want to dig deeper – is your job consistently making you feel so stressed or emotionally wrung out that you feel compelled to cry? If so, it’s time to move on.

2. Don’t just bring me a problem; bring me a solution.

There are few things more excruciating as a manager than having people dump problems in my lap without having tried to resolve them first. Resist the urge to walk into your manager’s – or colleague’s, or whoever’s – office as soon as you hit a roadblock. Take a few minutes to think through the problem and come up with a few possible solutions – and, if they’re fairly simple, give them a try – before approaching someone else about it. In other words, empower yourself.

Many times, you’ll find that you’re able to resolve the problem on your own. This not only increases efficiency (one person working on something instead of two or three), but it also hones your critical thinking skills, shows that you’re a problem-solver and enables you to work more independently – all of which are traits that are valued in the workplace.

3. Stop trying to fit in. Stand out – and use it to your advantage.

I used to work for a largely Pakistani organization. When I say largely, I mean that I was one of only two non-Pakistani employees. My fair skin, Western clothes and inability to chatter with the other girls in Urdu made me stand out big time. I spent the first few months trying to learn the cultural protocols and fit in because I thought that would make it seem like I belonged there. My initial determination to fit in kept me from sharing a lot of good ideas and taking on projects that I knew I could handle – all because I didn’t want to rock the boat with my “difference.”

But I’m naturally outspoken, and the mousy routine didn’t work for me. At the urging of my COO, I started speaking up, making suggestions and sharing ideas – often. And I quickly found that my different ways of thinking, communicating and problem-solving were well-received; in a short time, I became the go-to person when others needed help. It turned out that my difference was an asset, not a handicap – and it increased my visibility in the organization tenfold. Standing out was much better for my career than fitting in. I bet it will be better for your career, too.

4. Sometimes you have to forego the credit to get the end result you want.

This was a difficult one for me to swallow. I am a hard worker, and it seems illogical to me that I should have to see someone else take the credit for my hard work. But recognition isn’t enough to further a career – it’s also crucial to build relationships, manage up and learn how to get a project or idea pushed through even if it’s the least popular one. Sometimes it’s better to turn a concept over to an officer or board member because they can have the influence to get that concept over walls that we haven’t scaled yet. Sacrificing a little recognition to get something done well, correctly, more efficiently, is worth it. It will get us farther in the long run because we’re getting the company farther.

It’s like that old saying, “do you want to win the argument or do you want to resolve it?” You can’t do both. Know when to flaunt your wins, and when to just get the job done.

5. Ask for the raise. Always.

We’re still making substantially less than men: A 2014 research study by Wells Fargo showed that college-educated millennial women make $20,000 less than male counterparts with the same education level. The median annual income for women was $63,000, while the men made $83,000.

Upper management professionals and human resources workers say that much of the schism in pay is due to the fact that women don’t ask.

Remember, it never hurts to ask. Even if you don’t get the raise, it will give you an opportunity to remind your boss of your accomplishments, demonstrate that you expect to be paid what you’re worth and open the door for discussions about advancement, your career path and areas where you can grow.

Still too shy to ask? Ask your boss what benchmark you’re expected to hit in order to garner your next merit increase – and then start working toward it.

What’s the best piece of advice a female boss has given you, and why? Pay it forward by telling us below.

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