Valentine's Day traditionally has been a day of romance, boxes of chocolate, and flowers. But it's also a wonderful time for women to reflect on their relationships with that special man, evaluate where they stand, and have the confidence to propose what comes next. Perhaps surprisingly, the same guidelines that apply in the business world come into play here.
In my book, Taking the Stage: How women can speak up, stand out and succeed, I urge women to "seize the day" whenever they have an opportunity to achieve their goals, whether at work or in their personal lives. Here adapted from my book are five principles that will let you make the most of Valentine's Day....and every other day of the year.
#1 Adopt a bold mindset
Take charge of your love life on this special day. Historically, women have been comfortable letting others make the big decisions or defining the terms of a relationship, and encouraging men - whether at work or at home--to feel they're the important ones. That has given rise to obliging wives or mates - and excellent number "two's" in the office. It has also given rise to women who don't say "no" when asked to do something. But in 2015 such an attitude is decidedly old-fashioned. Every change you make in your life, and every good relationship, must start with an honest accounting of your goals. If you want the man in your life to encourage and support your career, make that a priority and tell him so on Valentine's Day. If you want him to respect you at every turn -- put that high on your list. If you want him to marry you, don't shy away from raising that. So focus on what your goal is for your special relationship, and bring it forward to your guy.
#2 Show Courage
Courage comes from the heart - the words 'courage' and the French word 'coeur' meaning heart, are related. If you believe deeply in yourself (and your relationship) you will find the courage to put forth your demands. That's not always easy - particularly for women. It takes courage to bring about a change in a relationship with your boyfriend, just as it takes courage in the office to ask for a raise or expanded responsibilities. There's always the chance of rejection. Tell your man what you want. Many women do. I told the person who is now my husband of 44 years that it was time for us to go to the altar, or go apart. I gave him three days to make up his mind. Fortunately he took only one day to make the right choice. Acting decisively in this way may seem "pushy" or "aggressive" or "forward," but if you don't show this kind of courage, you will be letting the other person define the relationship....and the outcome.
#3 Be Persuasive
Once you've made up your mind, put forward your best case on Valentine's Day. I'm not suggesting you persuade your beau with a PowerPoint presentation. But think out what you're going to say. The best impromptu talks, whether an elevator conversation with your boss, or a proposal to your long-time boyfriend, need to be well structured. In my book I talk about how to structure your talk: the most important element is the message, which you should get to promptly....then provide some proof points. Write these elements out, and burn them in your mind. Whether at work or in romance, these components are useful. Without them, you will be likely to say whatever comes into your head at the time--and that may not serve your well. If you want some support, rehearse your short script with a girlfriend!
#4 Speak with presence
It's not enough to convey the right words. It's also important to speak them with strength. Women often soften their voices or sound excessively cheerful. Develop gravitas, or vocal depth. Avoid upspeak--lifting your voice at the end of sentences, as though you're asking a question. Speak without any apology, deference or tentativeness. Make your body language strong as well. I know that getting all this right may sound like a tall order. But these are ways of communicating that you should aspire to if you want to make your point effectively - whether to your longtime boyfriend or a colleague at work.
#5 End with a Call to Action
What do you want from your Valentine? The call to action--which comes at the end--will tell him. Your call to action might be, "So, we need to make a commitment to each other." Or, "I need an answer about where this relationship is going in two days," or, "Marriage is what I really want, and I need to know you feel that way too." I once had a boyfriend whose last name was WAIT, and that's exactly what I did for over four years. I should have put forward a call to action to him much earlier. This is no different from office talk, when we should always end by asking something of our audience.
By following these five guidelines, you will rock Valentine's Day - and make it fulfilling beyond the box of chocolates or flowers that often mark this holiday. And once you've successfully put forward your proposal--perhaps even persuading your special man to stay in your life forever--you can use these same principles to succeed in business.
Happy Valentine's Day!
For more information on Taking the Stage visit: www.thehumphreygroup.com/taking-the-stage/book.htm
Taking the Stage: How Women Can Speak Up, Stand Out and Succeed