10 Mistakes Women Make at Work - URBANETTE: Lifestyle Magazine & Blog


10 Mistakes Women Make at Work

Some of biggest mistakes you’re making at work may be subconsciously driven.


Whether you think you’re kicking butt at work, or you are barely able to drag your butt out of bed each day, you’re likely making a mistake or two in the office that could cost you in the long run. Trying to get ahead in your career is tough enough without accidental self-sabotage!

10 Mistakes Women Make at WorkThe office environment is a hotbed for all sorts of pressure, and it doesn’t help that certain workplaces carry double standards that place extra loads on womens’ shoulders. While women in the workplace decades ago may have felt the need to mirror men to succeed, that’s no longer the case.

Suzanne Kleinberg, author of “From Playstation to Workstation,” shares her insights on workplace “dos” and “don’ts” in this exclusive article for Urbanette. Whether you’re just starting out or already in management, you should be cautious not to make these assumptions:

1. Using appearance to reflect your individuality

While every girl has her own personal style, knowing how to modify yours could be the difference between rejection and respect. You want people to notice your ideas and contributions, not your mid-thigh mole or bra color.

10 Mistakes Women Make at WorkOne of the worst blunders that young women make is wearing overly sexy clothing and excessive jewelry or makeup. You should always dress for the job you want, not the one you have! People’s respect for you will grow once they see you know how to respect yourself through your dress.

2. Thinking that passiveness = politeness

Many people make the mistake of submitting a résumé or business proposal and waiting to be called back. When they don’t hear back, they assume that they are rejected. Not true.

You need to follow-up with the recipient. This demonstrates initiative and confidence. Even if you get a rejection, at least you’ll know that you should move on. It may take a few attempts to get a response. Don’t be a nuisance, but do be persistent. On average, it takes 5-12 times to make a “sale” – most people stop at 3. Don’t lose out because you assume the worst!

3. Thinking that workplace rejection signifies that you’re unworthy

Women tend to take unfavorable responses as personal rejection. Rejection for a job or your project proposal is a decision based solely on business viability. Learn from it and move forward.

10 Mistakes Women Make at Work

4. A little flirting never hurts… right?

The best way to alienate your coworkers is to act flirty. Do it and you’ll send a signal to everyone that you need to rely on your sexuality and not your intellect. Women will resent you, and men won’t respect you. You’ll be marginalized and denied career-building promotions.

5. Not volunteering

You can get the best work experiences and develop great networks through volunteering. Many charities are desperate for volunteers. This means that you may be able to get experiences that a paying job would never allow you. For example, you may start working at an animal shelter scooping litter boxes, but you may offer to help with fundraising, event planning, marketing or graphic design. These organizations can’t afford professionals and don’t require people to have experience to preform these tasks. Sure you won’t get paid, but you’ll get an opportunity to fulfill your graphic design aspirations, add more to your credentials, and build your resume.

6. Thinking that making more money will make you happier

Studies show that money in itself doesn’t lead to job satisfaction. For many people enjoying what they do and having a work/life balance is more important. When you enjoy your work, you excel at it and, as a result, your career benefits.

7. Thinking attaining power will make you more ‘masculine’

10 Mistakes Women Make at Work

Over the years, TV has shown successful businesswomen in mannish suits, short hair and aggressive demeanors. Many women are subliminally influenced by these cues, and fear that as they move up the ladder, they’ll appear more masculine and, in their minds, less attractive. While women in the workplace decades ago may have felt the need to mirror men to succeed, that’s no longer the case. Femininity isn’t equated with weakness anymore.

8. Waiting for opportunities to come to you

Many people fear speaking up when they want something. They wait to be approached for a promotion before showing interest, minimizing their chances for success. If you’re ready for a promotion, more responsibility, or a raise, be proactive and approach your manager. Let him or her know that you’ve earned the opportunity. Leave the aggression and arrogance at the door, and present your case with confidence. Even if rejected, you’ll earn respect and consideration for the next opportunity.

10 Mistakes Women Make at Work

9. Thinking that being liked = being respected

Studies have shown that young women have a stronger need than men to be seen as “likable.” Likability isn’t synonymous with respect. People who make congeniality a priority tend to be indecisive and submissive, which definitely won’t help in earning respect. You need to balance confidence, collaboration, decisiveness and openness. Don’t be a pushover just because you fear stepping on toes.

10. Thinking that nice girls never say no

Many women bring their nurturing side to work and end up taking on too many tasks. While being a team player and feeling needed is gratifying, too many duties will result in failure with a lot of them. Learn your limit and when (and how) to say no.

The workplace is a place of great opportunities, but can be filled with barriers too. Believe in yourself, keep your eyes open for new opportunities and remember to enjoy what you do and where you are headed!

Suzanne is a Toronto based career coach and author. With a B.A. in Economics from York University, Masters in Project Management and PMP certification, Kleinberg is an avid ‘career changer’, having worked in a variety of fields. Kleinberg’s is the author of the book 'Employee Rights and Employer Wrongs, an everyman’s guide to navigating the complex world of labour and employment law'.

Reader Discussion: 54 Comments

  1. Donna Duncan

    who here has never done anything listed here? cos I sure didn’t. I always did my job how they want it. if asked for opinions or how to do it quicker or more efficient I show them how to do it. turns out, being in my office work for 5 years now I’m more valuable than other managers. I just don’t want the additional workload of the promotion that’s why I’m still here.

  2. Nina Smith

    who here has never done anything listed here? cos I sure didn’t. I always did my job how they want it. if asked for opinions or how to do it quicker or more efficient I show them how to do it. turns out, being in my office work for 5 years now I’m more valuable than other managers. I just don’t want the additional workload of the promotion that’s why I’m still here.

  3. Everyone else may be trying to fit in, but you can save yourself a lot of stress (and have a lot more fun) by just being who you are. There are so many ways to express your individuality, from the clothes that you wear, the activities you do, and the way that you speak. Choose some or all of them – just don’t be afraid to be bold.

  4. Sarah Parker

    It’s important for both men and women to be well liked at work-but you can’t build a career solely around being liked. The trick is to find a balance between being a wishy-washy “nice girl” and a woman who’s too headstrong. You need to learn to find your voice and be clear without demolishing the other person.

  5. Isabella Jones

    Being liked shouldn’t be the goal. Being respectful, treating people with dignity and supporting their growth to create results is the focus. And being liked will actually just be the byproduct.

  6. Carla Peters

    Don’t wait for extraordinary opportunities. Seize common occasions and make them great. Weak women wait for opportunities; strong women make them.

  7. Katherine Swift

    This is what I’m doing in order for me to say no. I give myself 24 hours before accepting any invitations, professional or personal. I don’t have to give an answer right away! I think about what I will get out of it, if it’s worth my precious time, and if it’s something I really want to do. Also, consider what is already on my plate? Will I have to give something up?

  8. Camilla Collins

    Personally, I dress for myself. I do not consciously dress to repel men, (once and for all, feminism does not equal man-hating), but I choose my clothes based on my own preferences rather than for the male gaze. On formal occasions, I will just as much choice to wear a jumpsuit or a tailored suit than a dress, and you can find me wearing clunky creepers, Birkenstocks, and dungarees on a daily basis. But sometimes, I will choose to wear a tight fitting bodycon dress. However, those occasions will be if and when it suits me, and not when I think society demands it of me.

  9. Abigael Fisher

    I believe right dress can help you focus. It’s common to be in a situation where you’re physically present but mentally somewhere else, such as checking email while you’re in a meeting. Clothes help you to collocate. Clothes can act as a reminder, dragging you mentally into work mode, If you’re wearing dress clothes, you will be far less likely to do chores. Clothes can pull you away from tangents that try to pull you away mentally.

  10. Pepa Washington

    I really dislike flirting when you at the workplace. it’s distracting and unprofessional. I have some co-workers who have a reputation for being flirts. And I find them annoying.

    • Carla Peters

      flirting and being friendly is different. are you sure they are flirting? men can get this 2 things mixed. just saying

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