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Being a 'Yes Woman' Won't Help You Get Promoted

Updated: Aug 2, 2023

And it won't make you feel more fulfilled either.

Get promoted

You know that feeling when you’re bored, unchallenged, and unfulfilled at work? You feel like you’re not maximizing your talent and you have more to give!

Maybe you’re ready for the next level (haay promotion 👋🏾) and you’re driven to prove your worth. So you start saying yes…a lot. Yes to all of the learning opportunities, yes to joining the committees, yes to helping the team organize this, that, and more. You’re raising your hand for all the things because you’re convinced that this is what will make you happy or help you get promoted.

So then what? Your calendar starts to fill up fast, you begin juggling all sorts of projects in addition to your day-to-day responsibilities, and when you finally take a moment to breathe you realize that you’re still not fulfilled or any closer to that next level you’re striving for.

I’ve been there before, and you know what changed the game for me?...taking control of my bandwidth by beginning to say no. Or in some cases, just not raising my hand! Now, if you know me, you know that I’ve always been hell bent on being the best that I can be at anything that I do. And when it comes to my career, I take this very seriously. But it’s important to keep tabs on how you’re feeling along the way. Whether you find yourself volunteering for additional work because you’re seeking a sense of fulfillment or because you believe it will ultimately help you to get promoted, it’s important to recognize when that additional work is no longer serving you. And if that happens…do something about it.

In a study run by professors at the University of Pittsburgh, they found that on average, women spent ~200 more hours on non-promotable work each year than men, equating to ~1 month’s worth of dead-end tasks. They stated:

“Women feel guilty when they say no – because we expect them to say yes.”

I can tell you from personal experience that this rings more true for women of color (am I right ladies? ✋🏾). One experiment found that in a mixed-gender group, women were 48% more likely to volunteer to take on a task than men were.

Are you starting to become a “yes woman"? Is that additional work giving you that sense of fulfillment and accomplishment that you were seeking? Is it helping you to make progress toward that promotion you’ve been wanting? If the answer is no, then it’s time to start taking control of your calendar and respecting your own boundaries at work.

When I found myself doing the most at work and feeling fatigued by it all, I started to purge some of things that I signed myself up for so that I could focus my time and energy on the work that mattered. What I mean by that is work that either did make me feel fulfilled and accomplished, or work that I knew (by communicating directly with my manager) would show that I was ready for the next level. I stepped down from the committees that I was on. I started asking if certain reports, communications, or meetings that I owned were useful/being read, and for anything that wasn’t…I stopped doing it!

It sounds crazy because, as women, we’re nurturers by nature. We want to help, we want to support, and we want to feel valued…worthy…that we have purpose. But here’s the thing…your purpose at work is not to wear yourself down by trying to do everything great. Your purpose is to do work that makes you feel fulfilled and helps you to achieve your goals. Everytime you say yes to something, you’re saying no to something else.

Look, women are INCREDIBLE beings, and while we can do it all, that doesn’t mean that we should. When you’re spending time and energy in a number of different areas, you’re not able to master any one of them! Are there activities you’ve volunteered for that are taking time away from you doing your best work in other areas?

By your calendar being as full as it is, what are you saying no to? What don’t you have time for? Work that actually moves the needle…work that you enjoy doing…time to develop yourself personally/professionally? My guess is that it’s these things and many more.


I've been working for the last couple of weeks on something that will support you in maintaining your own boundaries at work so that you can focus on the work that matters most, and understand how to know what to spend your time on.

It's called Boundaries, Advocacy & Asks - Foundations To Finally Getting That Promotion.

Use this guide to understand how to reclaim your time, advocate for your wants & needs, and get clear on what questions to ask in order to get it.

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