This article was originally published on Forbes.
It can take some time before you get taken seriously. Whether you are the youngest, the least experienced or an outsider, there are times when you have to prove yourself.
Proving yourself and showing your value early sets the foundation for the success of your career. Don’t wait for other people to come around. Leverage the opportunity to start gaining people’s respect now. Here are six things you can do to help you quickly get taken seriously at work:
1. Do your research.
People notice when you know your stuff. Prepare for every meeting and every event. Research the people in attendance, and understand the context of the situation. Also, read the news. Keeping up with current events is critical to being relevant in today’s world.
Understanding the context in which you live allows you to be competitive. When you demonstrate that you understand context, people recognize that you see a greater picture and vision that is characteristic of leaders.
If you want to be taken seriously, you have to take steps even before you open your mouth. Make sure your clothes fit your body and the occasion and aren’t wrinkled. Dress the part. Visual cues are powerful.
3. Watch your body language.
Think about how you feel when a leader you respect walks into the room. They exude confidence. Leaders have a presence that leaves an impression.
Leaders keep their heads up and don’t look down. They give a firm handshake and greet you like they mean it. They open up their bodies to converse with everyone, not a select few. Leaders are inclusive in their discussions and believe everyone has the potential to add value.
4. Speak calmly and authoritatively.
When you are calm, you are less likely to speak quickly and flub your words. Words are powerful. Allow your intent to come across clearly and effectively. Speaking calmly does not preclude you from speaking with personality and passion. Your true character shines through when you communicate effectively.
And avoid upspeak. This is when you raise your voice at the end of the sentence and make it sound like a question. Most tips advising against upspeak are packed with sexist connotations and warnings against using vocal fry. Colloquial language can be okay depending on your office’s culture, but the most important tip is confidence. If you do not have a question, don’t make it into one. Speak with authority, not uncertainty.
5. Ask questions and listen.
Speak, but allow others to speak more. When you show genuine interest in others, they will see that you are taking them seriously. Follow the Golden Rule: Treat others the way you want to be treated.
6. Take initiative.
Offer a solution. Show people that you are thinking about how to improve processes, save money or make money. Take initiative. Be a problem-solver. People don’t like hearing about problems. People would much rather listen to someone who has ideas on how to solve problems.
Have the guts to speak up. As Elon Musk recently suggested, the risk is staying silent, not speaking out. If you know of something that you think might affect the success of your organization, say something. Leaders like Musk celebrate people who highlight what decision makers need to know.
Avery Blank is a millennial impact strategist, women’s advocate, and lawyer who helps others to strategically position and advocate for themselves to achieve individual and organizational goals.