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10 Success Tips from Today’s Most Inspirational Women

10 Success Tips from Today’s Most Inspirational Women

In the past, women in high-level positions were few and far between. But now, more than ever, there are more women making their way to the top and how they lead is immensely inspirational. Read on to learn the success tips and inspiring nuggets of wisdom 10 of these amazing women acquired through their journeys, choices, and career paths.

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    Anne Sweeney: Ask questions

    Stay curious and ask questions. As co-chair of Disney Media Networks and president of Disney-ABC Television Group, Anne Sweeney says she’s “driven by curiosity” because “it gets people excited” and “leads to new ideas, new jobs, new industries.” Excitement keeps thing moving forward and evolving. Sweeney adds, “The smartest thing you can ever do is to constantly ask questions.” Asking questions is one of the best way to gain deeper insights. The best detectives and scientists rely heavily on asking questions because they know it will eventually lead to a breakthrough.

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      Claire Watts: Listen up

      One of the most important tips many successful women agree on is to listen. As the CEO of retail and media company QVC, Claire Watts schedules open door times every week. She does this so anyone in the company who wants to come talk to her or ask her something, can do so. She learns about social media from the interns and develops her mobile strategy with input from the tech team. No one should be beneath you and you should always keep your eyes and ears open.

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        Tina Fey: Do your own thing

        In her bestselling memoir, Bossypants, Tina Fey writes, “Do your thing and don’t care if they like it.” People may do things differently than you, they won’t always agree with you, and that’s okay. Focus on being true to who you are, stay confident in your abilities and just keep doing your own thing. If everyone did everything the same way, everything would be dull and boring. Own up the good things about you that make you stand out.

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          JK Rowling: Persist, persist, persist

          Things won’t always be unicorns and rainbows, but don’t give up! JK Rowling began working on her series of books starring young wizard-in-training Harry Potter in 1990 and completed Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the seventh book in the popular series, in 2007. That’s 17 years! That’s longer than it takes for someone to complete undergraduate and medical school! You’re bound to have setbacks and frustrations, but keep your eye on the prize and keep your endurance up. Sure, failure is always a possibility, but the easiest way to fail is to give up.

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            Sheryl Sandberg: Ask, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”

            Facebook’s COO, Sheryl Sandberg, encourages women to chase their ambitions in her bestselling book, Lean In. She suggests putting fear aside and suggests, “Ask yourself, ‘What would I do if I weren’t afraid?’ And then go do it.” Fear keeps us from being creative and successful. No matter your ambitions, there will always be obstacles and risk, but giving in to the fear already sets you up to fail.

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              Sophia Amoruso: Nothing is out of your job description

              Sophia Amoruso, founder, CEO, and Chief Troublemaker of the online retail store, Nasty Gal, wrote in her inspirational book #GIRLBOSS, “You want to know what four words I probably hate the most? ‘That’s not my job.’ Nasty Gal is not a place where these four words fly. At the end of the day, we’re all here for one reason and one reason only–to make the company succeed.” Amoruso hits the nail on the head. Doing “your job” is often doing things that aren’t in the job description. The main thing to focus to on is to get things done. We are human beings, not robots. We have to be flexible with what tasks and obstacles are thrown at us in order to truly accomplish what we need and to succeed.

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                Kate White: Keep challenging yourself

                As the long-time editor of the popular women’s magazine, Cosmopolitan, Kate White says the way to know it’s time to leave a job is that you’re happy. This sounds counterintuitive, but often when you’re happy and know the job a little too well, you begin to feel comfortable. When you know exactly how to do the job, you’re not as challenged. Challenge keeps us on our toes, energized and motivated to move forward and evolve.

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                  Oprah Winfrey: Admit mistakes

                  No one is perfect; everyone makes mistakes. Part of Oprah Winfrey’s mass appeal is that so many people relate to her. Despite being one of the richest and most powerful people in the world, Oprah makes mistakes and admits them. Her acknowledgment of her mistakes makes her more likable, thus securing her power as one of the world’s most influential and inspirational people.

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                    Kay Cannon: Get help

                    No one said you need to be super-human to be a super. Get help and learn to use your resources. Kay Cannon, a comedy writer who wrote Pitch Perfect and wrote on the hit TV shows New Girl and 30 Rock, says, “I don’t do it all.  Not even close. I work on a show with a kickass writing staff, I have a kickass partner of a husband who is there for me at all times both personally and professionally.” You don’t have to go at it alone. There are talented people at your disposal; use them to help you grow.

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                      Suze Orman: Lower the shield

                      Like Oprah, financial guru Suze Orman strives to connect with the public on a personal level. People trust her. She often shares the story about when she was 13 and watched her father dive back into a burning chicken shack to retrieve a cash register. In that instant, Orman says she understood how money, or the lack of it, could become more important than life itself for those who don’t know how to properly manage it. Orman constantly strives to help people manage their money while placing it into the proper perspective. By sharing something personal and lowering the shield, you’ll naturally develop a connection with your listeners and reinforce trust.

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                      Last Updated on January 15, 2021

                      7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

                      7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

                      The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

                      Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

                      Posture

                      First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

                      • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
                      • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
                      • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
                      • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

                      All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

                      Facial Expressions

                      Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

                      • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
                      • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
                      • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

                      If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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                      1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

                      A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

                      The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

                      This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

                      2. Relax Your Face

                      New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

                      The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

                      To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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                      3. Improve Your Eye Contact

                      Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

                      The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

                      To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

                      3. Smile More

                      There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

                      Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

                      4. Hand Gestures

                      Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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                      It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

                      5. Enhance Your Handshake

                      In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

                      “Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

                      It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

                      6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

                      As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

                      Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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                      Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

                      Final Takeaways

                      Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

                      If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

                      More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

                      Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

                      Reference

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