How you present yourself to others in the business world speaks volumes. People often form first impressions about others within seconds of first meeting them. Therefore, it is crucial to ensure you are properly prepared to present yourself as a professional. Here are some important tips toward forming a good picture of yourself.
- Stand straight, make eye contact, turn toward people when they are speaking, and genuinely smile at people.
- Follow your office dress code, perhaps dressing a step above the norm for your office.
- Your briefcase or bag and the things you carry in them say something about you. Messy items may detract from the image you would like to present.
- When meeting someone for the first time, be sure to shake hands palm to palm with gentle firmness.
- Be alert. Sleepiness looks bad in the workplace.
- Kindness and courtesy count!
- Arrive early to work each day.
- Learn names, and learn them quickly. A good tip for remembering names is to use a person’s name three times within your first conversation with them. Also, write names down and keep business cards. People know when you don’t know their names and may interpret this as a sign that you don’t value them.
- Don’t make value judgments on people’s importance in the workplace. Talk to the maintenance staff members and to the people who perform many of the administrative support functions. These people deserve your respect!
- Self-assess: Think about how you treat your supervisor(s), peers and subordinates. Would the differences in the relationships, if seen by others, cast you in an unfavorable light? If so, find where the imbalance exists, and start the process of reworking the relationship dynamic.
- What you share with others about your personal life is your choice, but be careful. Things can come back to haunt you. Don’t ask others to share their personal lives with you. This makes many people uncomfortable in the workspace.
- Respect people’s personal space. This may be very different from your own.
- Return phone calls and emails within 24 hours — even if only to say that you will provide the requested information at a later date.
- Ask before putting someone on speakerphone.
- Personalize your voicemail — there’s nothing worse than just hearing a phone number on someone’s voicemail and not knowing if you are leaving a message with the correct person. People may not even leave messages.
- Emails at work should be grammatically correct and free of spelling errors. They should not be treated like personal email.
- When emailing, use the subject box, and make sure it directly relates to what you are writing. This ensures ease in finding it later and a potentially faster response.
- Never say in an email anything you wouldn’t say to someone’s face.
- Underlining, italicizing, bolding, coloring, and changing font size can make a mild email message seem overly strong or aggressive.
- Keep the space professional and neat with appropriate personal touches! People will see the space and consider it a reflection of you.
- Whether it is a cubicle or office, respect others’ space. Don’t just walk in; knock or make your presence gently known. Don’t assume acknowledgment of your presence is an invitation to sit down; wait until you are invited to do so.
- Don’t interrupt people on the phone, and don’t try to communicate with them verbally or with sign language. You could damage an important phone call.
- Limit personal calls, especially if you work in a space that lacks a door.
- Learn when and where it is appropriate to use your cell phone in your office.
- Food consumption generally should be regulated. Smells and noise from food can be distracting to others trying to work.
As in all things, it is not about just one impression. Impressions build up over time and through all the little things that you do. Vigilantly observe the corporate culture in which you work, and be aware that changes will happen. Your eyes and ears are your best resource in this learning process.
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