I know we often don't equate careers with the RPW lifestyle, but I have surprisingly found a lot of crossover between being an attorney and being a RPW. Through experience and other tips I've collected over time, I've found that certain things I've been told to help me be a better litigator also apply to becoming a better RPW. I hope you enjoy this list - feel free to add your own tips and ideas that you've culled from your life experiences.
The phrase "clothes make the man" is doubly true for women. You have to strike a balance between professional and still feminine - no one wants those ugly 1980s power-suits to come back. Juries judge a woman on everything from the size of her engagement ring to the colors she's wearing. Modesty is key - nothing ostentatious, no heels too high, no tops cut too low. Think Barbara Stanwyck or basically anything Christian Dior in the 1940s. Sleek but still feminine suits, with touches of feminine color, but nothing garish.
If you dress like a schlub, others think you do poor work; if you dress garishly and immodestly, they think you are dumb; if you dress like a mortician, they think you are dour and have no humor; and if you attempt to dress like a man, they think you're a bitch.
RPW Takeaway: Dress like a lady!
Those five inch heels may be adorable, but if they begin to hurt after twenty minutes, it's going to show. Uncomfortable shoes lead to pinched, unpleasant expressions on your face, and even worse attitudes when you interact with others. Form AND function are important.
RPW Takeaway: Choose a shoe that's appropriate for your venue and for your activities. You aren't going to look feminine if you go for a hike in heels - and you probably won't have any fun, either.
POISE, POSTURE, AND PRESENTATION
Stand up straight, and appear confident. No one will take you seriously if you look like a hunchbacked Eeyore. Face life with poise and grace.
RWP Takeaway: Ditto.
CROSS YOUR LEGS
...at the ankle, not the knee. When you cross your legs at the knee, your skirt rides up and exposes a lot of thigh. It's also a subconscious signal to men that you're looking for sex - why else do you think it's used so much in Hollywood films?
RPW Takeaway: Save the sexy leg crossing at the knee for home, and stick to crossing at the ankles when out in public.
Like that infamous law firm memo that made the rounds on the internet said: think Lauren Bacall, not Marilyn Monroe. Try to sound like an adult, not a child. Don't be fake, high-pitched, overly-breathy, or pepper your speech with tons of Valley Girl "likes" and "ums." Speak clearly, in a smooth, polished voice - not too fast, and not too slow. Try not to end statements with a rising tone in your voice to make statements sound like questions. Don't say "sorry" before every question you ask.
RPW Takeaway: Your Captain is looking for a First Mate, not a child or a pet - so you should try and speak like one.
FIND A MENTOR
Having a mentor help guide you through the unfamiliar can be incredibly helpful. Advice, constructive criticism, and yes, a safe space to vent can be integral to success. Having an objective person tell you when your concerns are valid, and how to address your areas of improvement is vital.
RPW Takeaway: This sub is great, and if you can find other like women in real life - do so!
You do not know everything, and you are not the center of the universe. Law school leaves most graduates with a sense of superiority over the common man and they think they know it ALL. That's rarely the case. There's always someone who knows more than you or who can do it better. There's always a chain of command. Recognize the leaders around you, and respect that many made it to the top for a reason. That said, don't be mean to the little guy. I've managed to finagle things others can't, simply because I always have a kind word for the security guard, receptionist, or paralegal I deal with each day.
RPW Takeaway: Recognize that there are people who know more than you and that you should listen to them. Corollary - you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.
LOGIC, NOT EMOTIONS
If an opponent in court knows they can rattle you by objecting to every other question, they will. If you have nothing to fall back on but emotion, your arguments to the judge will fail. If you have no logical reason to support your point, only emotional appeals, you're not going to get far in negotiations. Anticipate your opponent's side and what s/he will say to strengthen your own arguments. Use emotional appeals sparingly as garnish to your logical points.
Don't lose your cool. If you do become emotional, find a way to excuse yourself and don't let them see you've lost it.
If things do become heated, argue "fair." Don't throw in irrelevant points, don't resort to "wooden swearing" where you pound the table, don't roll your eyes, and don't sigh/huff your annoyance. Focus on maintaining your poise and grace. Cooler heads usually prevail!
RPW Takeaway: Your Captain is going to appreciate a well-thought out approach to matters far more than an emotional meltdown.