Ask Esther…I’m being overlooked in this toxic atmosphere

Ask Esther

Esther Stanhope is an international confidence speaker and communications expert.

A former BBC producer she’s rubbed shoulders with the likes of Madonna, George Clooney, and many global leaders.

She now helps talented women in business, like you, to speak up in meetings and conferences, get their voice heard and radiate charisma, confidence & gravitas.

If you have any questions for Esther about the way you come across in business, as a leader or when you’re chairing a meeting, fire away.  Ask anything.

Email; [email protected]

I’m Being Overlooked in This Toxic Atmosphere…

Hi Esther

I just read your advice on what to wear and be confident in your blog on We Are The City and not to be nervous it was great so thank you! 

Please can you help

I recently joined a new project at work with a new team and director and was told I am being too passive.  I wasn’t happy to hear this feedback.

Usually, I am proactive, and I am also very experienced in the PMO role and in project management.

I am very disappointed to hear this from the newly joined director and team lead manager.

One of the reasons they may think I am passive is because one of my colleagues, a lady I am working with always has things ‘in place’, but I know it’s not always to the standard I would like.  I also know other people in the team do not follow her processes.

Unfortunately I feel I am being left out of key meetings as they all have their own agendas.  This makes me feel behind as I am not always in the know.

The team lead has now asked a colleague, who recently joined the team, to look at all the processes which again, I have been totally overlooked. 

I have expressed that I would like to be more involved.

Please could you advise how to lift my profile and get noticed?

I feel this is a toxic atmosphere where everyone is out for themselves and it’s eating me up.  

I really would like to be involved in the review of the internal process. However I think that if I did give my opinions and recommendations, I worry that they may even take my ideas and not give me credit for them.   

Could you advise or give some tips please ?

Kind regards 


Hi Aashi,

First of all thank you so much for your email.  This really hit a nerve with me as I can totally relate to your ‘toxic’ atmosphere and many other women can too.

You deserve better than this!

Well done for asking for help, yes, you need to do something pro-active, now!

OK, you have two options

1 – Stay in your job, and get yourself heard, taken seriously and ‘more visible’ .

2 – Move jobs or get promoted!

Let’s start with

Option one….

In this case these are my top tips….

– Go Senior

You need to make sure the senior decision makers know who you are and what you are doing. The best way to do this is try and get them on a one to one basis, maybe a coffee, or arrange a ‘quick chat’; about ‘an idea’ you’d like to pass by them.

Usually senior people are out of the loop and LOVE to know what’s going on. They also love to know if things aren’t going so well.

You don’t need to tell tales, however you do need to go in with a plan, a pitch or an outcome.

This way, even if you have the smallest of ideas that will improve a project, you’ll be on the radar of the most senior person who will determine your career progression.

– Get Into the Spotlight

Make sure you get your voice heard in meetings!  Whenever there is a chance to shine or give your opinion – make sure you stand up and speak out loud and clear.

My speaking out tips are all about body language and voice.  In a nutshell make sure you speak loudly and SMILE – yes you MUST MUST smile so you look confident, relaxed, warm and enthusiastic.

– Be Generous

OK there is a bit of ‘fake it until you make it’ here but DO make sure you give people credit for their ideas.  Even if they are “toxic” or have stolen your ideas, give them credit and ‘kill with kindness’,

For example.  “You’re doing such a fantastic job with project XYZ, particularly the challenge or XYZ, if there’s anything you’d like me to help with please shout”

ALWAYS be warm and smiley (this is essential) as this will help you come across as senior, relaxed in your skin and not ‘chippy’ or resentful.

In a nutshell, your practical tips are….

– Get in front of senior people,

– Get into the spotlight as much as you can

– Make sure you have ideas to share

– Get your voice heard

– Be smiley, positive and generous at all times  (eyes and teeth)

If that doesn’t work, head to option 2…

Option two

2 – Move jobs, either within the organisation (get promoted) or go for a different job somewhere else

If you hate the environment you’re working in, you need to change it.  You need to move or get promoted.

If the toxic atmosphere is ‘eating you up’ – you must change your situation NOW before you lose your confidence!

A Practical tool..

Below is my ‘How to get Your Dream Promotion” online self-study programme that will help you every step of the way with nine short videos and an interactive work book.

BONUS for you.  You can use the voucher code dreampromo50 which will give you 50 per cent off the price, that’s only £77 for a comprehensive guide to getting a promotion.  You’ll love it!

Click here for your dream promotion

Good luck, you’ve got this!

Esther x

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