Claiming Your Success

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When I claimed my success and got told of

Imagine this. You are sitting at an enormous meeting table with 20-odd colleagues from all over the world to exchange on best practices in the company’s HR department. You have just shared the awesome results of your biggest project to date – a comprehensive training program for senior management for all markets in your region.

Then you receive a text message on your phone from your boss, who is sitting across the table from you.

“Next time, please use the word “we” more, rather than “I”, okay?”


This happened to me, many years ago when I had just started in my role as HR director for Asia for a billion dollar company.

My boss, otherwise an awesome human being, made it very clear that I wasn’t supposed to claim my success, despite the fact that I had literally built the program on my own. He, nor anyone else in the team for that matter, had had anything to do with it; much to my chagrin, actually, as it had been a mammoth task and a little support would have been much appreciated.

I guess I should have lied and pretended it had been a collaborative effort?

I hear similar stories from my clients all the time. They get told off when they claim their success.

They get scolded when they share their accomplishments.

Saying “I did this” or “I achieved that” is uncouth for a woman, not lady-like.

It ties in with the broader narrative and societal norms that dictate that women should focus on others, be communal, on not sticking their heads above the parapet.

And that is bad news, for many reasons.

One, the principle of it, of course. Men don’t have this problem. I don’t recall ever hearing something like this happening to a man. In fact, we encourage them from a young age to find their place in the hierarchy, making many activities a game or match of sorts. In the workplace, that means that we understand and welcome them claiming their success and we reward them for it.

That leads us to another reason why these different expectations for men and women when it comes to discussing their successes, sucks. Because that same workplace, designed by men for other men, REQUIRES you to share your successes. If people don’t know what you are able to do, they cannot leverage that experience and expertise, nor reward you for it.

So on the one hand, you NEED to claim your success. On the other hand, you need to do it in a way that doesn’t antagonise anyone.

It’s a tricky tightrope to walk for women.

But learning this communication skill will serve you in a much bigger way than hamster-wheeling even harder without being recognised for it, will ever do – pinky promise.

By studying the role of gender in communication and negotiation, and by having hundreds of badass corporate WINners experiment with it, I have found the answers. If you want to benefit from that solid communication framework I developed over the years, to navigate and negotiate your career and salary, let me know.


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