no secrets

“Secrets”, we all have them, about how we did something or how we made something work or how we keep ourselves strong.

So instead of perhaps gloating about our little secrets to success, we share those “secrets” with our colleagues and friends who might find them useful.

So how do we share without seeming boastful or arrogant? For me I take an appropriate moment or what I think is appropriate, and say, “Have I shared with you some of my secrets for how to do X or Y or Z?” and then I am off !

So this seems like an appropriate moment to me, so here is one of my secrets:

I was fortunate enough to learn early in my career how to stand tall and own the room while being relaxed and collegial. I think I figured it out because I had no choice, I was the only woman in the room and I wanted respect and to be taken seriously.

First of all it’s about breathing. It sounds simple, but women are big breath holders when we are nervous or scared or in deep thought etc.  So find a way to help yourself breathe. I learned my best breathing technique while taking skiing lessons. My instructor was trying to get me to relax and breathe on steeper slopes that really scared me. Tips like , lean out over your skis did not help, but when she told me to sing, it was like a miracle. Its hard to hold your breath if you are singing.  So I conquered many of my fears of steep slopes by singing songs from the Sound of Music … it really helped "level" those slopes. I do now publicly apologize to those who had to endure my vocals on the slopes of Utah.

I have applied that singing and breathing experience to my work life.  Before an important meeting I spend a minute outside the room, in the ladies room, in my car on the way etc, visualizing, humming or sometimes actually singing (quietly) to get myself breathing. Next I square my shoulders, shake my arms loose and enter the room ready to rock and roll.

As soon as I am in the “room” I scan first for who is there, any surprises good or bad. If there is someone I don’t know or have not seen for a long time, I go right up and introduce myself or say hello. It does not matter his or her rank in relation to mine because in my visualization everything and everyone is “level” just like the slopes.

Next I scan the room for my seat at the table. There are so many games that get played regarding seating; I usually try to sit in the middle even if I am running the meeting as once again we are all “level” .

There are many nuances to my standing tall and owning the room secret, but this one is the most important and has served me very well. I think I always have "The Hills are alive with the sound of music ..." somewhere in my head. Scary I know but fun.