The 5 Most Important Administrative Assistant Skills: Empowerment and Self-Direction On the Job
You might think I’m referring to the kinds of skills mentioned in a resume, but I’m not.
The skills I am referring to are those that bring the Admin a sense of mastery and upward movement in her job, and a sense of mastery and forward movement in her life:
What is the nature of your relationship with your boss?
When I was an Admin I have to admit that I never felt that I had the power, the right, or the permission to speak up and share my professional opinion. My job, as far as I was concerned, was to understand what was being given to me as quickly as possible, and to meet and exceed expectations in doing that work.
When I didn’t immediately understand what was being asked of me, I would feel frightened: I felt I wasn’t immediately meeting the need – I wasn’t being “the perfect Admin” – and that I was therefore a failure, a bad Admin.
Which was unreasonable, and unkind to myself!
I blamed the bosses I had – and not incorrectly! Yes, I worked with bosses who expected the impossible. Yes, I worked with bosses who were disrespectful, and downright abusive.
But it was always up to me to stand up and speak my truth. It was always up to me to stand up for myself, to protect myself, to be mature in my responses, to discuss problems and respond to the reactions my strength might cause. And I never felt empowered to do that. I felt in the grip of a large system that disempowered me.
With self-confidence I would have felt quite differently,
I would have given myself credit for my knowledge, experience and professionalism, knowing that if I were to bring my best, the person opposite me would have to give me the information I needed to do the job well! I would not have felt I needed “permission” to speak up and ask for a simple thing like clarification.
I would not have left it in my bosses’ hands to create and nurture an adult, professional-to-professional relationship. I would have responded to my bosses with maturity, and healthy pride, demanding that kind of relationship by simply behaving in ways that demonstrated my maturity, and my expectations!
I would have exercised my self-respect by acting as the adult that I was, and not walking in a victim attitude, a most childlike interpersonal attitude.
How do you feel about speaking up?
When someone at work asks you to give your input about an element of your job, that is generally a comfort zone for most of us. But what about when you have to walk into that uncomfortable area of contradicting or disagreeing with someone, particularly when that someone is higher on the “food chain” of command than you are?
I’m guessing that makes you uncomfortable. It does for most of us. We either don’t do it or we do it with uncomfortable, with less than a masterful mode of self-expression.
One of the greatest gifts you can give yourself is to learn how to communicate well, with clarity, self-confidence, the ability to listen and respond, and the ability to speak your truth, regardless of discomfort.
One of the greatest gifts I have ever been given…is words and phrases - ways to express myself that are simple, and that allow me to step into my adult professional self with the right words, without first having to feel confident! Interestingly, once the words come out, I am able to feel confident. I have solid ground under my feet!
Allow me to give a few examples:
What are your dreams?
Where are you going? Do you want to be a career woman? Do you want to work for yourself? Do you want to raise a family, and your work is not primary in your plans?
What is your Vision of who and what you want to be in your life? Do you have career goals?
You are important. Regardless of what you do in your life – what heights you do or don’t reach professionally – you are important. And your life is important to you, so you deserve to treat it with respect, care, and attention.
When I was in my 20’s, I expected myself to be kind of a badass: strong, self-confident, able to deal with problem situations without breaking a sweat.
The reality turned out to be quite different. My life had handed me certain demands that sapped my emotional and personal strength, and it took me some time to stop beating myself up for my seeming “weaknesses”, and to start to look for ways to be that woman that I knew, in essence, I was!
Knowing your dreams for your quality of life, your desired directions in life, is not only your right, it is your responsibility to your precious self.
Otherwise, it is all too easy to settle for getting by, thinking that the playing ground on which you move each day is an inescapable mandate into which you have no input.
Please believe me, you have the ability to do what you want to do, and be who you want to be. That may seem impossible at certain times of your life, and during those times the most important thing you can do is exercise lovingkindness toward yourself until you can once again see the road ahead. What I urge you to consider is that the “rules” of conformity and “niceness” and disempowerment that surround you are constructs of a group mind that you don’t have to buy in to.
You are a professional and an adult, and should hold yourself that way, and be treated that way.
You can practice the self-respect, the self-confidence, the empowered communication, and the adherence to your dreams and Visions that you know are your right to practice.
Step One is knowing that you can.
Step Two is finding ways to practice those new skills.
Step Three is connecting with others who are practicing them as well.
Remember: You are important! You are never “just an Admin”.
For Personal and Professional Empowerment and Admin-to-VA Trainings, webinars and coaching, contact Lori Kirstein at ProjectCheetehHelp@gmail.com.
Lori Kirstein, The Project Cheetah, started life as an Admin. She is now a Virtual Assistant and Personal/Professional Empowerment Coach.