No, not that CIA. This one:
As far as I am concerned, these are the three most important components needed for a professional, positive image.
As you can imagine, I get to meet many professionals – and first impressions don’t always lead me to have faith that they are ace at what they do. But enough about other people – how about you? If you had to rate your behaviour against the CIA, how would you do? Are you sufficiently self aware to be able to honestly assess yourself?
People judge us on how we portray ourselves. They have to – it’s the only part of us that is visible! They guess what is going on inside our head from what they see on the outside. They may be right most of the time – or they may be doing us a disservice by assuming the worst.
We owe it to ourselves to choose behaviour that makes our CIA evident to all. There are signs that people pick up from our manner, speech, and stance that lead them to assumptions about our integrity and competence. It is worth our while to do what we can to influence their conclusions. It can pay huge dividends.
If we appear confident, others are more likely to trust us. Of course, confidence alone is not sufficient; it will fall flat on its face without integrity. A combination of confidence and integrity will take us a long way in a professional environment, but many decisions are based on whether or not people like us so we need to be amiable too.
Here are a few body language tips:
- Stand tall, shoulders back, chin forward, not looking down
- Confident people often use a steepling hand gesture – fingertips together, palms apart
- Use an assured speaking manner
- Don’t fold your arms in a self-wrapping gesture –it may be interpreted as withdrawal
- Others usually look at our bodies before our eyes – so dress for success. What do your clothes say about you?
- Open hand gestures (without shrugging shoulders!)
- Eye contact for more than a few seconds – but long gazes intimidate
- Hands away from face when talking
- Control your feet! Sometimes “leakage” (tapping, twitching) occurs when a person is trying to conceal information or attitude from another.
- Eye contact, smiling, head tilting and eyebrow flashes will help build rapport, especially when meeting or greeting someone
- People that use many gestures and non-verbal signals, particularly open ones, are perceived as warmer and more agreeable than those who don’t
- Leaning towards the other person, especially when sitting down
Here’s your homework – weigh up your colleagues or customers against these tips. Does their image match your opinion of them? And then – of course – think about yourself. Is there anything simple you can do to get a head start when you meet someone new?
By Julie Cooper
Author of Face to Face in the Workplace
“If you deal with people you need this book” Buy your copy here