1. In the early 90s, before we boring westerners had had too much influence, Czech ladies liked to wear very little when they came to the office. One morning I arranged to meet the senior account manager for an important client in their reception so that she could come there straight from home. We were presenting our marketing strategy to the whole board and she arrived wearing what appeared to be a tissue. After the meeting, I said that I thought it went very well, and her reaction was 'I didn't like it - half of them spent the whole meeting staring at my boobs.' My answer: if you want to be treated like a serious business woman, then you need to look like one!
2. That doesn't mean that we can't all look great! When I started life in a law firm in London, it was generally thought that any successful woman had to look 'butch' and be as hard as nails. Not so! I am afraid that all those men out there who say that we women like to 'use' our good looks and charm to get our own way are right!!
3. Stolen from a very good friend: men like to think that the problem with women in business is that we all talk too much (Ha!! Should I name and shame some of those men?!!). But, it is true, that is what they think. And, as another good friend told me (a banker...) - the best way to win an argument is to say nothing. Try it! Don't play into all of their hands by doing exactly what they think we do and talking too much.
4. Accept that men and women ARE different, especially in business. So if you know how they will behave, then don't be surprised (annoyed, disappointed, upset) if they behave exactly like you expected! Forwarned is forearmed.
5. Know who your real friends are. What does it matter if someone that you don't know, or you don't actually like yourself, doesn't like you. Treat it as a form of flattery - the "Tall Poppy Syndrome". People like to shoot at those that they perceive as successful. They don't bother if you are no threat. And as a successful woman; well, they love to have a pop!
6. Keep the emotion out of it; unfortunately (fortunately?), we ladies are able to get more emotional than most men and it really isn't a good one to cry or get upset.... if that looks on the cards, then find a way to make your getaway, at least for a while. And if you have to do something difficult (firing, making redundant) JUST DO IT - don't try to be 'nice' or 'sympathetic'.. the person you are firing/whatever will appreciate you more if you just cut to the chase (this has also been stolen from a friend of mine, who has had to bolster me on several occasions when I have wanted to back out of such a situation!).
7. An old saying, but probably true; women have to work harder and be better than most men in order to get on. Revel in that thought but don't try to prove it all the time - women know it already... and most men suspect it!
8. Build that suit of armour so that every time someone chucks something at you, it bounces off. And remember, there are more ways of chucking things at someone than hurling it straight back at them.
What did I say... women talk too much. Oh dear. I seem to have gone on a bit....