How Shy Girls Win at Work

In this job market, quiet types can't afford to fly under the radar.

(Image credit: N. Hendrickson)

In this job market, quiet types can't afford to fly under the radar while chattier—though not necessarily more talented—colleagues get all the plum assignments. We asked Nancy Ancowitz, author of Self-Promotion for Introverts, how to overcome your diffidence and outshine the show-offs.

Perfect your (vocal) pitch. Wallflowers tend to end their statements as if asking a question—So, I had an idea for next week's client presentation? "You can't sell yourself if you sound like an insecure sorority sister," warns Ancowitz. Her suggestion: Use a tape recorder to practice speaking more authoritatively. Keep at it until you quit sounding like a wounded kitten.

Stick with numbers, not adjectives. "Introverts are averse to bragging, but if your boss doesn't see you shine, you're done for," says Ancowitz. Here's how to remind her of your achievements without showboating: Provide quantifiable metrics. If she asks whether you're on track to meet your sales targets, say something like, "At this rate, I'll exceed them by 20 percent."

Solicit feedback immediately. Punctuate your pitch with a subtle request for guidance, like, "Any thoughts on how to make my proposal better?" This approach puts the onus on your manager to help you succeed. "Plus, you'll come across as thoughtful and collaborative, which bosses live for," says Ancowitz.

Invest in some bold accessories. "Your appearance speaks volumes before you even say a word, and you need for it to say that you mean business," says Ancowitz. Ditch the mousy colors and rock one standout piece—a patterned belt, a chunky necklace—every single day.