Claim Your Space

powerposeswomenHarvard professor and researcher Amy Cuddy recently delivered an inspirational keynote address. This was of particular note as she wasn’t supposed to become a successful scientist. In fact, she wasn’t even supposed to finish her undergraduate degree. Early in her college career, Cuddy suffered a severe head injury in a car accident, and doctors said she would struggle to fully regain her mental capacity and finish her undergraduate degree, yet she persevered despite the original prognosis.

Cuddy’s research at Harvard Business School confirms that our body language communicates information to others that shapes their perceptions of us. It also communicates information to us that shapes our own self-concept. We can construct how powerful we feel by assuming expansive body poses.

In “Power Posing: Brief Nonverbal Displays Affect Neuroendocrine Levels and Risk Tolerance”, Cuddy shows that simply holding one’s body in expansive, high-power poses for as little as two-minutes stimulates higher levels of testosterone, the hormone linked to power and dominance in the animal and human worlds, and lower levels of cortisol, the stress hormone that can, over time, cause impaired immune functioning, hypertension, and memory loss. These power poses led to an increased sense of power and risk tolerance.

In other words, Cuddy states that we can fake confidence and power by using expansive body language to change our body chemistry and our feelings. This is especially useful in preparing to speak to a group or in any situation where a self-assured image is important. Whether you face a challenging subordinate, a complex negotiation or a difficult relative, this is a quick way to gather your composure and tap into your power. Begin incorporating the pose into your daily practices, thereby reducing stress and adding greater self-assurance. Claim your space!

©MWeisner2017

Power Pose or Poser?

PerceptionHarvard professor and researcher Amy Cuddy recently delivered an inspirational keynote address. This was of particular note as she wasn’t supposed to become a successful scientist. In fact, she wasn’t even supposed to finish her undergraduate degree. Early in her college career, Cuddy suffered a severe head injury in a car accident, and doctors said she would struggle to fully regain her mental capacity and finish her undergraduate degree, yet she persevered despite the original prognosis.

Cuddy’s research at Harvard Business School confirms that our body language communicates information to others that shapes their perceptions of us. It also communicates information to us that shapes our own self-concept. We can construct how powerful we feel by assuming expansive body poses.

In “Power Posing: Brief Nonverbal Displays Affect Neuroendocrine Levels and Risk Tolerance”, Cuddy shows that simply holding one’s body in expansive, high-power poses for as little as two-minutes stimulates higher levels of testosterone, the hormone linked to power and dominance in the animal and human worlds, and lower levels of cortisol, the stress hormone that can, over time, cause impaired immune functioning, hypertension, and memory loss. These power poses led to an increased sense of power and risk tolerance.

In other words, Cuddy states that we can fake confidence and power by using expansive body language to change our body chemistry and our feelings. This is especially useful in preparing to speak to a group or in any situation where a self-assured image is important. Whether you face a challenging subordinate, a complex negotiation or a difficult relative, this is a quick way to gather your composure and tap into your power. Begin incorporating the pose into your daily practices, thereby reducing stress, adding greater self-assurance, and dashing the notion that the pose is for posers only.

©MWeisner2015

Own Your Look

dresses-300x218Style is one factor in creating your own personal brand. What is the message you are trying to convey? When people see you, they immediately respond to the visual image you present. Is it memorable appropriate, and professional, given the setting? In the world of work, dress for the job you want, not the job you have.

Your style needs to empower you and a strong sense of personal style is a confidence builder in many arenas. In various studies, 55% of your credibility as a speaker, for example, is based on how you look, 38% on how you sound and 7% on what you say. It’s human nature to judge each other first on appearance because that’s really the most information we have to begin with. So, if you are prepared to freshen up your look or tweak your style, the following tips from Aliza Licht, author of Leave Your Mark are invaluable.

1. Know your body: Don’t convince yourself that all styles look good on you. Experiment AND be prepared to walk away from a season of fashion that may work best for others.

2. Get style inspired: Gather images of women whose style you most admire. Are there common denominators? It may be accessories or color- identify what it is that caught your eye.

3. Record best outfits: A good style moment can be easily forgotten. If a great outfit makes you feel special, take a selfie to jog your memory and capture the moment.

4. Store your go-to clothes together: When you are pressed for time, you want easy access to those pieces that always look good and lock in your confidence. The last thing you need is a frenzied hunt for the blouse that never wrinkles or the shoes that are the right height for your pants.

5. Hang by look: Keeping an organized closet not only eliminates stress, but enables you to see how many pairs of black pants you really own or if your look is too monochromatic, too colorful, or confusing. When placed together in your closet, the immediate feedback you receive may be a cause to celebrate or to cringe

6. Keep your job in mind: No matter how much fun you want to have with your style, remember when and where you will be. Bear in mind the job/career you have as you tweak or re-brand your style.

7. Identify a signature Item: Repetition is reputation. For the Ms. Licht, it is red lipstick and red nails. You may have an extensive shoe or handbag collection if your budget permits. However, unless you are in the creative fields where edgy pieces are expected, rein it in on being too trendy as there is a fine line between interesting and eccentric.

Your style can help or hinder you. Experiment and be realistic. If your soul cries out for up-to-the-minute fashion but your workplace screams neutrals, you have various options. Before you quit, indulge your other self in your free time or limit your fun fashion to one piece of your attire at a time. It might just be the conversation starter you need.

©MWeisner2015

Gender Bender or Guess Again

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A father and his son are in a car accident. The father is killed and the son is seriously injured. The son is rushed to the hospital whereupon the surgeon says, “I cannot operate on this boy because he is my son.” How is it possible?

For those of us who were presented with this scenario in another century, please don’t cringe. Sadly 40-75% of people still can’t figure it out. For those who do, it usually takes a few moments to realize that a surgeon could be the boy’s mother. All too often, surgeon or boss conjure up images of men despite our best intentions otherwise.

Cultural messaging still favors strong gender stereotypes beyond image to performance which leads to believing that men are more competent than women. Although a majority of us may say that this thinking has changed significantly, studies still reveal that “managers, both male and female, continue to favor men over equally qualified women in hiring, compensation, performance evaluation and promotional decisions.”

Likewise, recruiters and hiring managers report that women tend to apply for jobs when they meet 100% of the criteria, whereas their male counterparts are likely to apply when they are at 70%. According to author, Tara Mohr, “Only 10% of women don’t apply for a job because they lack confidence. More than 40% refrain because they are under the false impression that job qualifications are non-negotiable. And 15% don’t apply because they are being good-girl rule followers and adhering to the guidelines.”

How deeply are managers influenced by our own gender biases in hiring? How do we women hold ourselves back from even applying for positions based on old stories, misinformation and an overall lack of understanding the marketplace?

At the end of the day, who really is the BOSS? Who is holding you back or pushing you forward? Too often the obstacle you face is taking up space in your mind’s eye and it’s time for a readjustment.

©MWeisner2015

 

 

The Accomplishment List

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“The bend in the road is not the end of the road unless you refuse to make the turn.”

Oh, it’s always easier to be the Monday quarterback and see what you might have done, could have prepared better or managed under challenging circumstances. The reality for most of us is that we could always do better and that we beat ourselves up over the “shoulda, woulda, couldas” in life. Hopefully we learn from the experiences and add these new insights to the mini-arsenal of skills needed to succeed or sometimes just survive in the future.

Job loss can be an exceptionally demanding time for anyone. A serial entrepreneur who made millions before losing it all and then creating success again related an idea which worked for him during particularly stressful times of uncertainty. What got him through the most difficult periods was a list that he kept with him at all times; a list of his accomplishments. In such circumstances, many of us refer back not to our list of plusses, but rather to our list of failures and what we don’t have, rather than recalling our successes and what we have done well. Like any behavior that we are willing to change, this became a beacon for him to refer to and remind himself that he was indeed a man of accomplishments.

What a terrific tool for any of us to use and how simple to create, carry and refer to! Who couldn’t benefit from a confidence booster and reminder of their potential? When was the last time you took time to review your life through the lens of success? Would you be able to list 10 of your accomplishments right now? Is your mind a complete blank? If you are stuck because you have yet to master the piano, publish a book or cure cancer, among other feats, I urge you to stop. Take this moment to sit down and make your own list. Some examples of accomplishments you might include are:

• I completed my college degree
• I have a successful marriage
• I have raised good and healthy children
• I have worked in a field that I love
• I started my own business
• I bought my first car, home, etc.
• I learned to play an instrument
• I have traveled to many interesting places
• I wrote a book, song or poem

Now that you have the idea, you can take it even further. Begin by creating a file in your computer or dedicate a notebook to being your accomplishment “basket” list holder, not to be confused with a “bucket” list. This is the expanded record of those things you have already done. Challenge yourself to get up to at least 15 examples and add more as you please. Remember, this list is infinitely expandable; a work in progress. Print it out, keep it with you at all times and refer to it daily or as frequently as you like. After all, this IS your track record of successes and no matter what you are experiencing at the moment, you have a solid list of accomplishments that is yours alone.

©2015 Maureen Weisner