Is Your Glass (Ceiling) Half Empty or Half Full?

The infamous "glass ceiling" is blamed for business issues for women from poor salaries to lack of corporate advancement. This invisible barrier holds many women captive in unpleasant work environments, settling for pay which is far below industry averages, accepting weak titles and agreeing to poor advancement opportunities.

Some say the glass ceiling is just a figment of the imagination while others are sure it is a real blockade created to prevent women from reaching corporate success. So, is your glass (ceiling) half empty or half full? In other words, are you going to be kept down by something you can't even see or are you willing to do what it takes to crack through and shatter this issue?

If you've decided that as a woman it will be impossible for you to reach corporate business success, then you are right. That thought process will get you nowhere but where you are right now. On the other hand, if you are part of the growing group of women who want to break through to their own successes and remove the glass altogether, then keep reading.

To move forward, you must analyze your own communication skills and be brutally honest with yourself about your skill level. Weak and ineffective business communication skills are often the primary reason women feel held back in their careers and in their lives.

Review this list to help determine where your skills stand.

1. Do you ask for raises?

2. Have you ever asked for a promotion or an improved job title?

3. Do you negotiate effectively for yourself?

4. Are you able to specifically explain the value you bring to your company or clients?

5. Are you an effective presenter or public speaker?

6. Do you apologize for things that aren't your fault or are out of your control?

7. Review your email or other writing. Do you start sentences with the word "I"?

8. Do you see negotiating as a barrier to getting what you want?

9. Do you have difficulty saying "no" even when you really want to?

10. Are you overwhelmed or consumed by stress?

11. Do you have difficulty explaining things or getting people to understand what you are trying to say?

If you answered "no" to any or all of the first five questions, then your assertive skills need an overhaul. If you answered "yes" to any or all of questions six through 11, then your communication skills are ineffective in helping you advance in your career. Essentially, you could be creating your own glass ceiling and holding yourself back.

Often, we are our own worst enemies.

To help put yourself back on the right track and stop constructing transparent blockades to your own success, review the three following PowHERful skills that will help put you on top.

1. Ask for it

If you want something, then ask for it. Make it clear what you want and you are more likely to get it.

A university study of 40 employees found that men are more likely to ask for things when they want them - AND they are more likely to get what they ask for.

Of the 20 women, only one asked for a raise when first offered a job. She was granted the hike in salary. Of the 20 men, 18 of them asked for a raise and all 18 were given it.

If you're one of those people who thinks it's better to magically get something without asking for it, then don't complain when you don't get it. Don't expect people to read your mind or know what you want. It's simply not the way things work.

2. Learn to speak and present effectively

People who communicate well in group settings are viewed as leaders. This perception will get you noticed and help you stand out as someone who is worthy of promotion and other opportunities and bonuses.

The number one reason why most people are terrible presenters stems back to speech development. The purpose of business presentations are to inform, persuade or both. Therefore, the structure of the presentation must be clear and not bogged down with unnecessary information.

One of the biggest mistakes presenters make is trying to fit too much information into too short a period of time. They jam paragraphs of information on slides and handouts and begin to drone, ignoring time restrictions and forgetting completely about the audiences needs.

Simplify your presentation and only have highlights and supporting information on slides and handouts. Don't overwhelm your audience with too much information at once and avoid having more than five main points for the entire presentation.

The adult human brain can only absorb small chucks of oral information at one time. If you have to present for long periods of time, be sure to build in small breaks - even if the breaks are only five minutes. Presenting to a group may be nerve-racking, even paralyzing for many people, but it doesn't have to be. Effective presenters know the simple secrets on how to craft and deliver good speeches. If you feel scattered, nervous or ineffective when you present to groups, you owe it to yourself and your career to take a public speaking training course or at least buy an audio CD or book on how to improve your skills.

3. Quantify and Present Value

When volleying for a raise, a promotion or new client contract it is crucial that you know how to specifically explain value. Though it is impossible to quantify the value of everything, most things can be measured.

When you communicate in quantifiable terms, people are more likely to understand the value. If you can quantify the gain of doing what you want or the loss by not doing it, you will be more successful in getting it. Rather than telling your boss you want a raise, quantifiably show him why he should give the raise to you.

Weak Raise Request: "I've been with the company for a long time and I'm a good and dependable employee who works hard."

PowHERful Raise Request: "Over the last 18 months, the six software projects I worked on for the company have attributed to a 13% reduction in customer complaints, a 29% increase in production, and a 43% increase in online orders. These improvements have resulted in a $1.5 million in profits for the company."

See how the quantified example got right to the "bottom line"? It is here, at the bottom line where nearly all business decisions are made. Let the numbers do the persuading for you. Numbers are tangible. Numbers are concrete. Numbers mean value. Value speaks volumes. By mastering the above three skills and continuing to improve your assertive communication skills you will no longer be trapped by the glass ceiling or any other barrier which may get in you way. You will be an assertive, powHERful business person worthy of raises, promotions and anything else you decide you deserve.

Kirstin Carey is a consultant, award winning speaker, and author of "PowHERful Communications for Women Who Want to be Heard." As a woman business owner, Kirstin fully understands what is necessary for women to be successful entrepreneurs. To find out how you too can love your business everyday and live the entrepreneurial life you want, visit">