When you work for someone, you are being constantly assessed. Your boss, supervisor or team leader, peers and colleagues are making judgments about your abilities or inabilities at work.
These impressions are created by the footprints of appearance, behaviour and communication you leave in your wake. In today’s world of shortening hierarchies you may end up partying after hours with your CEO, and if you fail to create great impressions on the top honchos, your career might just be doomed.
If you feel you are not moving forward at the pace you want to at your work place or that you are not being taken seriously, it is time to take a hard look at yourself in the mirror.
These are the reasons because of which most professionals fail to make a mark. Are you guilty of the same?
1. Not dressing the part– What does it really mean? It is simply dressing appropriately for your work place and for your role. Many people ignore workplace dress codes or dress way too casually than expected.
What to do instead– Always dress professionally. That certainly does not mean boring! Even if you have a Friday dressing culture in your office, understand the difference between informal and casual dressing. Learn the rules of formal and informal clothing which can take you from cubicle to company outing with panache. Never let your dress become more interesting than you!
2. Addicted to social media– If you believe that logging into Facebook 20 times during the day or tweeting every other hour is not affecting your productivity, you are wrong! Many companies now have accessibility restrictions primarily because of this reason. Also, what you post online tells your current or future employer exactly who you are.
What to do instead- Mind your digital footprint and leave the social media networking to after hours. Never complain about your boss or workplace online.
3. Using profanity, slang or colloquial words– Increasingly casual workplaces have led to increasingly casual language. If you are prone to swearing at the drop of a hat or use slang instead of speaking in plain language, rest assured it is working against you. People can think you are uneducated. You may not get that coveted chance to interact with a potential client!
What to do instead– Learn to speak crisply and use proper words. If English does not come easily to you, make the effort to learn it well. Leave the college-speak back in campus and start using professional language to communicate at work.
4. Not being on time– So you thought no one noticed when you sneaked in late (yet again) to another team meeting, or you returned late after a break at the seminar? Did you think your client would read your nth message of apology for being late with patience? Do you really believe that a delay of few hours in sending out that urgent email will be ignored? All of this hints at carelessness and complacency. Your punctuality speaks volumes about the respect you have for your time and others’. If you are not being on time, no one is going to give you opportunities because they know you won’t deliver. Your worth is as good as your word!
What to do instead– Learn to be on time, every time! Put your phone on silent and send that email NOW! Learn to respect your alarm and wake up on time to start your day on time.
5. Avoiding eye contact– When you don’t look into the person’s eyes you are talking to, it implies you are hiding some thing or you are not speaking the truth.Even if you have profound pearls of wisdom to share, no one will take you seriously if you don’t speak with them eye to eye.
What to do instead– Raise your confidence quotient. You are worthy! Look into other people’s eyes to showcase it. Practice in front of the mirror- if you can look in to your eyes, you can do it with others too!
6. A limp handshake– The only thing worse than no handshake is a limp handshake! It hints at low energies and a not-so-confident you. Don’t do this to yourself!
What to do instead– Have a firm handshake. Learn it professionally, practice on friends and family till you get it right.
7. Showing too much skin– This should be a no brainer but unfortunately it’s not! A show of skin distracts from the professional purpose. Low waist trousers which sit low on the hips are not helping you either.
What to do instead– Dress conservatively. With western attire make sure your shirts are modest and the skirt hem line falls no more than an inch above the knee. When wearing a sleeveless top or blouse get the armhole altered if it gives a peek show. With Indian formal attire, take care that your saree blouse is not showing any amount of cleavage and your saree is not transparent.
This is for both men and women- make sure your formal trousers sit at mid waist. How to check- bend over when wearing them. If your shirt pulls out from the back and the trouser rides low, ditch them.
8. Not speaking up– If you have some thing to share which can enhance a discussion or a conversation, share it. If your peers and seniors do not know about the workings of your mind, how will they feel confident enough in you to give you more opportunities?
What to do instead– Air your views judiciously. Don’t be shy. However know what you’re talking about. Practice projecting your voice, keeping an even tone and speaking slowly enough so that you’re understood.
9. Lack of manners– Things we learnt in childhood still hold true as adults- not indulging in gossip, saying Please, Sorry and Thank you, offering some one a seat, opening a door for some one, introducing yourself to someone you don’t know, excusing yourself before interrupting someone mid sentence, not arguing loudly in public- these are just some of the things that are taken for granted. But you are being noticed and rude behaviour can cost you your job, be turned down for a job offer, or be looked over for that promotion.
What to do instead– Mind your manners! Manners are important, so don’t be rude. If you don’t have something nice to say don’t say anything at all. Take a good look at yourself and ask others about your habits. If you get feedback take it seriously.
You talk not only with your words, but from the way you appear, your manners and habits and the way people interpret your body language. Take care of your Appearance, Behaviour and Communication and rise the ladder of success.
Originally published at www.theimagemanager.com on June 13, 2016.
Originally published at medium.com