How to Be a Successful Woman in the Workplace

Updated on May 29, 2020
Hedieh Kianyfard profile image

Hedieh is a passionate financial modeller and a longtime freelance writer.

Don't let discrimination get you down! Learn how to be a strong woman in the workplace.
Don't let discrimination get you down! Learn how to be a strong woman in the workplace. | Source

There comes a point in life when you just have this feeling that everything you say goes unheard or unseen, or that our voices have been silenced. Having been at such a similar position in my professional life, I learned some tricks that I saved as golden rules in my lessons-learned spreadsheet.

Tips to Be a Successful Woman at Work

  1. Smile.
  2. Use powerful words and be confident.
  3. Radiate power.
  4. Question everything.
  5. Prioritize self-development over self-sacrifice.
  6. Be a solution provider.
  7. Embrace your feminine power.
  8. Be compassionate.
  9. Back other women.
  10. Find and follow the works of inspiring women.
  11. Love yourself.

1. Smile.

I remember when I started in corporate world, I was told that if I am smiling then people aren’t going to take me as seriously. So, I was trying to remain mindful and keep a neutral facial expression in the work place until I joined the African Development Bank. There I met with women who were feminine, smiling, and making jokes and yet were lionesses when it came to negotiations. I realized then it was a complete myth that a smile is a sign of subordination. It is all about authenticity. A fake smile is ugly, but an authentic smile is a sign that you are happy and confident being who you are.

I have many problems in my life. But my lips don’t know that. They always smile.

— Charlie Chaplin

2. Use Powerful Words and Be Confident.

You can’t talk like a failure and expect to be successful. Consider avoiding expressions like “I think…”, “Maybe we should…”, “I’m not sure, but…”. Such expressions make you look uncertain and unsure of the proposition you are putting forth. This is important but is only on the surface. The next layer is to talk from the power of your own authority and that will only come when you talk from your own personal experience.

Raise your words, not your voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder.

— Rumi (Persian poet)

3. Radiate Power.

It is one thing to see yourself as powerful. But how others see you is a completely different thing. This has to do with the way you present yourself to others. Your personal appearance here includes the way you walk, your postures at different times and in different situations, your body language, the way you talk, the clothes and accessories you wear, your fragrance and hairstyle. A confident and powerful physical appearance is as important as what you have to offer.

Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren't.

— Margaret Thatcher

4. Question Everything.

Some people are too good at persuading others such that they can make an incorrect idea or solution sound undoubtedly correct. But the fact that something is regarded as an established norm does not make it correct. If you feel like something is not right or is dubious, then you should say something. Question everything, regardless of the authority and position of the person saying it. Be confident and firm when expressing your disagreement and opinion but do so in a respectful manner.

Never lose a holy curiosity.

— Albert Einstein

5. Prioritize Self-Development Over Self-Sacrifice.

Before saying yes to a proposition, ask yourself whether you are accepting because you want to please someone or just because you think you should or whether doing this task is going to add to you in one way or another. It’s perfectly fine to prioritize yourself.

Self-development is a higher duty than self-sacrifice.

— Elizabeth Cady Stanton

6. Be a Solution Provider.

Sometimes, you might be asked to perform a task but are unsure of its aspects. Faced with such circumstances, it is better for you to provide multiple solutions to the task rather than seek assistance. This is because providing multiple solutions makes you the solution provider rather than the problem solver.

There's no such thing as problems, Mr. Green, only situations...

— Avi ("Revolver," 2005)

7. Embrace Your Feminine Power.

Generally, ladies feel like they have to adopt a more masculine attitude in order to fit in a male-dominated workplace. There is nothing wrong with embracing your feminine power as it only makes you stronger. Your feminine power is powerful and by not hiding it, that side of you will give you an added advantage over the men.

Many of you seek masculine approval. Even though you have inside you your way of talking and writing, you have mountains of it inside you, and even though it is enough to begin expressing yourselves so long as it is with your vocabulary, your abstractions, and your own conceptualization, I think you are still afraid of the master: men.

— Marguerite Duras

8. Be Compassionate.

Compassion is one of the most powerful feminine qualities, as it enables you to be a good listener, empathize with others and understand a particular situation from different viewpoints. This further enables you to provide strategies and solutions that are beneficial to all and take into consideration the views of all stakeholders.

Let your big heart be your biggest competitive advantage.

— Marie Forleo

9. Back Other Women.

This quote stresses the importance of supporting other women, as empowering them also empowers you and accords you more legitimacy and respect among your colleagues.

There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other.

— Madeleine Albright

10. Find and Follow the Works of Inspiring Women.

Finding and following powerful and inspiring women is yet another way to build yourself. Some of my personal favorites include @MarieForleo, @OprahWinfrey, @AnoushehAnsari, and @SégolèneRoyal. These are women whose works and lives have inspired me.

I hope to inspire everyone—especially young people, women, and young girls all over the world, and in Middle Eastern countries that do not provide women with the same opportunities as men—to not give up their dreams and to pursue them.

— Anousheh Ansari

11. Love Yourself.

Probably the most important of all is self-love. This is because it embodies all the other attributes that you need to make your voice heard. It is therefore important to be that confident, beautiful and professional lady who is not scared to showcase her amazing feminine skills and abilities, especially in a male-dominant workplace.

Be an inspiration to other women. Make them understand the need for a balanced world. A world which is fair and does not discriminate between men and women, irrespective of the domain.

Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained.

— Marie Curie

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2019 Hedieh Kianyfard

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