Rita’s Column

Surefire Ways to a Powerful, Professional Image

In today’s competitive business environment, a professional image and good manners can make the difference between getting ahead and being left behind. As objective as we like to think we are in business relationships, we still judge people by how they act, speak, write and look.

Did you know it takes only seven seconds to capture your prospect’s or audience’s attention? It also only takes 20 seconds to get the substance of your message across to someone so they will decide if they want to listen further or walk away. Although it really isn’t fair, in the first seven seconds, people are making judgments about our self-image, outlook on life, moral character, economic and educational levels, trustworthiness, social position and future success. Wow!

Exceptional business protocol is the epitome of professionalism and is all about presenting ourselves with the kind of polish that shows we can be taken seriously. It is using a code of behavior based on consideration and thoughtfulness. It is treating ALL people with respect, courtesy, manners and appreciation no matter who they are or what position they hold.

The Polished Professional – Why You Seriously Want Good Business Etiquette!

Why is good business etiquette important??  Because it differentiates us from the competition and is often the defining reason one person is chosen over another!  It makes people want to know us better and have us on their team.

Professional protocol enables us to have confidence in a variety of settings with people from all walks of life.  This includes how to conduct ourselves in meetings with all internal and external customers, which impacts how much they respect us, our products and services. Respect is critical for a solid reputation, one that continually attracts new business and maintains longstanding relationships. Proper protocol also enhances our credibility on sales calls, in negotiations, on the golf course, and definitely while conducting business over meals.  What happens during business social events can definitely be a deal maker or deal breaker depending on the perceptions people have of us. Were our manners, appearance and conversation conducive to building a solid future with them?

We also have the advantage of psychological power in how others treat us, which plays a critical role in how they respond.  Why?  Think of how you would act in response to a well-groomed, energetic, mannerly and confident individual versus one who looks disheveled, disorganized and has poor speech patterns or negative body language.  Much research has proven that when two people have similar qualifications, the one who is more polished and professional is usually the one chosen!

Image and Good Manners Make the Difference

Our self-image, behaviors and abilities are relayed to those around us through communication skills that are broken down into three parts: 55% of our message is non-verbal (how we look, act, sit stand, enter a room, our posture, movements & gestures, handshake, what do with our hands, how high we hold our head); 38% is the quality of voice (our expressions, pitch and tone), while only 7% are the actual words we speak. Whether we meet others for the first or the tenth, it is critical to project a confident, friendly demeanor that says, “I want to build–or continue building–a mutually rewarding relationship with you.”   Remember, we only have one chance to make a good first impression! A positive and confident “presence” makes us more approachable, believable, and appealing to our prospects. However, a poor impression can repel people, giving the notion that we are not as effective or straightforward as they want in a business partner.

Reading non-verbal signals helps us “interpret” what others are really saying so we know how to frame our response. Example: If someone is saying something nice but their body is stiff and there is fire in their eyes, it is usually more accurate to believe what the body is truly saying rather than just their words. Pay attention to sudden changes in their posture, expression or other cues because you may have hit a nerve. If they all of a sudden they act or speak to you in a “different” manner, go back and think about what just happened and what might have triggered the change. Ask questions, clarify for agreement (or disagreement), explain yourself again, or change directions in order to get them back on a positive course. The more you practice this skill, the more effective and favorable relationships you will have.

By watching a job candidate or business prospect’s body signals, we can discern how aggressive they may be, whether they come across as obnoxious, personable, are shy or feel inferior. Bottom line, technical skills are not the only requirement for a new job or business opportunity. Good soft skills are critical for taking us where we want to go in life and in business.

Exhibiting the Kind of Impression That You Want Them to Have

When conducting business, including business social events, ensure that your appearance, wardrobe and grooming are exhibiting the kind of impression that you want others to have of you.  Our appearance reveals a lot about our self-image.  We appear more responsible, organized and capable if we are all “put together.”  When people see that we take pride in our appearance, they assume we will take more pride in “our” work and “their” business as well.

Stay tuned for Part 2. Learn tips and techniques to begin using immediately and will last a lifetime! www.transformationacademy.com. Workshops forming now! Private or group coaching and training is just a phone call or email away!

 

Breaking Through Defeating Thoughts

          When someone says something about you, either positive or negative, that seed tries to plant itself in the soil of your life. It is at this very moment that you determine whether or not to allow that seed to take root and grow into a self-sabotaging weed. If you dwell on what was said or done to you, you are watering and fertilizing the damaging seed and it will manifest in your life. That is why you must stop it every time–immediately! Shift–and meditate on positive thoughts and blessings throughout the day. These thoughts can be as basic as “I can see, hear, walk, talk, have food to eat,” etc. Now really, we really are blessed, right? Nourish those seeds and watch them grow into your newly created reality!

          Stop right now and really analyze what is going on beneath the surface, where your daily observations, feelings and concentration have been attracting that very thing you want to change. Do you “see” yourself more confident, slimmer, healthier, in a better relationship—whatever it is you desire—or do you tell yourself there is no way your goal can manifest because you don’t have enough money, don’t think you’re attractive or smart enough, have the finances or a myriad of other self-defeating thoughts? It can take a hard thrust forward to crack a tough, confining shell against the obstacle that must go! Visualize what you want to draw into your life rather than just wonder how it could happen. Do not let “…but I don’t know how to ever hold you back. Once you determine it will be done, the how will actually take care of itself. 

Take time to thoughtfully answer the following:

  •                Thoughts that have been hindering me and keeping in the wilderness:
  •                New thoughts I am replacing the old ones with that will now help steer me in my life’s new direction:
  •                Words that can no longer have a place in my heart and mind: 
  •                Words of growth, inspiration, hope, healthy and happy goals that I am using from this day forward:

Taken from Creating Your Own Destiny: Power Steps for Mind-Body Renewal

Fear: dark room that develops your negatives. Turn the lights on!

  Fear and faith both project into the future and what we say is what we get. 

          You CAN overcome the fears of rejection, failure, other’s opinions, your feelings about your education or finances or a myriad of other areas.  Bring the unseen into the Seeing realm, so to speak, by continuously visualizing what you want to see manifested in the next six months, then a year from now. This requires planting positive seeds of work, love, focus, and action. Feed positive thoughts, words and endeavors into the lion within you. You shape your life by the choices you make. Ask yourself: which emotions will I allow to be stronger? The more fervent ones win! Cross over out of the wilderness into the land of Transformation. For starters, you may claim “I am healthy, wealthy and wise…and greatly loved”! Take like a medicine as often as needed.

          Start journaling. Create positive thoughts where frustrating circumstances emerge. “I get to plan my day because I am in charge of what happens to me”. (Oops, here comes one more unexpected event to my day). However, I will deal appropriately with anyone or anything that seeks to upset my day. This is my day and I can overcome! God created me and He will strengthen me, give me wisdom (ask for it), and make my path straight.” Can’t you just feel your chin lift, the corners of your mouth turn up in a smile, even if just a little? Do you detect a refreshing deep sigh of relief? Ok, show your day who’s boss…you!!!! Smile!

Taken from Creating Your Own Destiny: Power Steps for Mind-Body Renewal

What “Color” is Your Mind?

      Our minds are amazing! They can entertain good thoughts or bad; happy thoughts or sad; loving thoughts or angry and unforgiving ones. “Out of the abundance of the heart…the mouth speaks.” Are there times when we forget that we are designing a great portion of our lives by what we are speaking forth? We magnetize what we dwell on…prosperity, successful career, heartache, the treatment from others (that one can be so rewarding or so detrimental). Is it time to change out some puzzle pieces?      

      Think of your words as pieces of a puzzle, or the colors of paint you would use in creating a beautiful picture, or of the type of decorative items you put into your home. Are they colors and items that make you feel good (yes, it can greatly affect how you feel), or are they black, white and gray, lifeless, filled with hurt and disappointment? Music also affects us. Fun, venomous, beautiful, full of life, screaming, relaxing. Words–sights–sounds definitely affect what we are creating. Think about how they make you feel.

      Even in illness or lack, we can say “NO, I am not dwelling in this state. I am determined to design, in my heart and mind, what is good, constructive and beneficial to the rest of my life!” Your Creator designed you with His heart and His mind and His abilities. It doesn’t get any better or stronger than that! Be “positively” spunky and determined to raise your thoughts where necessary, and change your world!

Taken from Creating Your Own Destiny: Power Steps for Mind-Body Renewal

The Transforming Power in Our Belief System!

          “The thoughts we entertain, the words we speak, and the things we write have much to do with how we handle the daily environment we live in. Our belief system either helps us remove hindrances and prepare our wings for flight or keep us down and defeated. Our views and opinions of ourselves (self-perception) and of the immediate world around us create the way we experience reality. We devise in our minds, and then follow through with our actions, whether we become successful or live with continuous failures, whether we have uplifting or degrading relationships, whether we have a career we enjoy or mainly work to survive. Even in the most devastating of times, we can call forth peace, new friends, new opportunities, and the necessary support to make it to the other side.

            I have lived much of my life like this even when it seemed like the walls caved in on top of me. It is still something that is critical to overcome on an almost daily basis. But focusing on the fact that we are made in the image of our Creator changes our perception, gives us hope, renews our spirit and causes our demeanor to bring forth positive changes and people. This, in turn, will influence others to hire us for a new and better position, build community and foster healthy relationships. When we replace the words we think, write and speak, science has proven that we literally change how our brain works and the kind of outcome our thoughts, words and actions bring about. That, in turn, greatly impacts our lives–for the better. In the positive way we deserve. Shift!!

Taken from Creating Your Own Destiny: Power Steps for Mind-Body Renewal

Life Changes May Require Image Changes

Sometimes, life’s changes and challenges can be tough, disappointing and confusing. They may come on so quickly we wonder “what happened” and “how will I ever manage beyond this?” They can also open the door to so many new and wonderful possibilities. Release, rebuild and raise up your inner architect and create impressive new images from the puzzle pieces of life. Explore ways to thrive and excel.

Following are suggestions to recharge your battery. Please take time to carefully examine each point to determine:

• “What is the most important area that I would like to change as far as the perception I am giving to others?” Could it be getting in better shape to appear more energetic and feel better about myself? Ask yourself: “Would I want to do business with myself? Why or Why Not?” How about a new professional image in appearance, communications and outlook?                          (I can help you make powerful transformations that will last a lifetime!) 

• Would it be helpful to make simple changes in my demeanor and body language such as a more confident handshake, erect and confident posture and good eye contact, or remembering to smile more and center myself to be calm if I am a bit nervous?
• Could a few adjustments in grooming show others that I take good care of myself, therefore, I will also take equally good care of them, their business and relationships?
• What would make me “feel” more confident in my exciting new card game of life? Shall I take a class in public speaking, get a makeover, or join an organization or committee where I will make new friends and gain new skills?
• What kind of image am I formulating in the mind of others by my attitude, energy and appearance? Write your answers in a journal for a time and notice any patterns that emerge. Team player Tom? Negative Nancy? Tired Tonya? Happy and confident Harriet? Super Smart Sadie?
• What kind of energy am I projecting? Is it positive, negative, forceful, supportive? Energetic or tired? Hopeful or hopeless? Determined or deflated? Ask a close confidante for feedback. If it resonates with you, make some changes. Get a second opinion if necessary from someone you know you can trust! You want positive feedback that builds you UP!

As Jim Rohn said: You can’t change your ‘destination’ overnight but you can change your ‘direction’ overnight. “Later” is a dream killer. So…think about creating your own growth plan! That’s what new days are for!! Rita Rocker, Transformation Academy, LLC

Engaging Presentations: How to “silently” talk to your listeners

Every day we present our thoughts and ideas to business prospects, teachers, parents, and organizations. Our first interaction can leave a lasting impression! Since 55% of our message is non-verbal, make sure your body is relaying the same message your mouth is. Whether you are giving a sales presentation to a large number of individuals or sitting across from two people at a table, use the following tips to ensure you have engaging presentationsto bring the success you are looking for. The more positive and confident your interactions, the greater your success in building a relationship that will last for many years. Following are signals that can either enhance or destroy, future business.
 
Your energy. Be aware of the energy you are transmitting! Is it motivating, positive, exciting, confident, worrisome, pre-occupied? Set a positive tone with your facial expressions, sincere eye contact and friendly, yet controlled body language. Signs of defiance, angst, fear or frustration will send the listener packing, even if your words are saying something entirely different!
 
Hands. It is said that eyes and hands are open and closed with the person’s mind. They tell so much about your current state of mind. Hands should face palms up with fingers open (welcoming them to come into your “space”) or at your side. If you are new at speaking and feeling uncomfortable, hold a pen in one hand. Having one hand in your pocket briefly is acceptable but both hands in your pockets give the impression of either being arrogant, lacking confidence or hiding something.
Pointing. Pointing a finger or a pen in someone’s general direction immediately puts them on the defense. When asking an individual a question or to sign a paper, hold your pointer or pen like you would if you were writing, at an angle. It seems like a very small matter but can give a strong message subconsciously.
Touching. A friendly touch on the shoulder is often meant as a welcoming gesture, however, note their response. If they recoil, smile and back away. Touching sometimes reminds individuals of an unpleasant experience and is not anything personal against you. We just always want to be respectful of their reactions.
Eye contact. In the U.S., eye contact is a necessary for honest, productive conversations. In some other countries, looking someone in the eye could be considered disrespectful. Good eye contact gives the impression that you are trustworthy, confident, credible, and serious about your conversation or presentation.
Your eyes. Avoid darting eyes, scanning people’s shoes, or any eye messages that give the impression you are not completely engaged in a conversation with them.
Statements or questions. When people raise their voices at the end of a statement, it sounds like they are questioning themselves rather than making a statement. The listener may think, “If you are not sure of what you are talking about, why should I take your seriously?” Result? You can be overlooked in business meetings and presentations. Approximately 80% of voiceovers on television are done by men because of their lower pitch which lends to their credibility.
Letting others finish your sentences. If individuals in your audience interrupt, your first mode of defense is to raise your volume slightly. If that does not work, hold up your index finger while slightly raising your volume. If they didn’t get the message, raise your hand in the “stop” position. As a last resort, hold your hand up in the “stop” position and say, “Excuse me, I wasn’t finished yet.” This act should keep you in control and maintain your composure.
Adjust your mode of speaking. According to the type of group you are talking to. Be more energetic if talking to someone of like manner and do not overwhelm someone with a strong voice if they are quiet and reserved.
Non-verbal messages can diffuse hostility by maintaining a composed demeanor. Restraining your own body language when someone is angry with you can actually have a calming effect on them. Keep your voice low and limit gestures while preserving a relaxed posture to discourage others from a potential rant.
 
Bottom line: always check to ensure your body is saying the same thing your mouth is. Your goal is to have the clearest, concise, confident message possible.

Business Social Events–Tips for Standing Out in the Crowd!

There are a myriad of helpful business  and social etiquette tips for greater confidence, engaging conversation and a winning demeanor . Here are a few techniques to keep you out in front:

At business social events, you are still under scrutiny.  Your attire should not be too casual or revealing as that impression will carry back to the office and can affect promotion opportunities. You still want to be remembered as the polished (and fun) professional, not for what you wore. Have extra clothing in the car (dressier/more casual/different accessories or shoes,etc.) to make a quick change if need be to fit in more comfortably with the crowd.

Don’t want to attend an event? Go anyway! Spend at least 30 minutes making the rounds, shaking hands and being seen by as many people as possible. That way, you will show your interest in the company and the attendees in the most favorable light. Later, just slip out quietly. Be sure to discuss the event, thank the organizer, etc., the next day. They will appreciate it and you score points for being so engaged in the process.

When in a networking environment with food and drinks, avoid trying to talk to individuals while holding one in each hand. It can be awkward and messy trying to talk while juggling your hors d’oeuvres. Eat at a standing table first, then go out on the floor and concentrate on those you meet, giving a warm and confident handshake.

Always hold your glass in your left hand when mingling so the right one is dry and free to shake hands. No switching!

Have a glass of water or coffee between alcoholic drinks to maintain a sharp, professional conversation at all times. If you are socializing with upper management or clients who are not drinking alcohol, it is usually better to abstain during your conversation with them. This may sound old fashioned but it shows you are respectful of their time, preferences and totally engaged in your conversation with them.

Make it a habit to introduce yourself to at least five people you don’t know to build up your network and make new friends and associates. Always focus on them (which also helps if you’re self-conscious talking about yourself). If you want to talk with them again, ask for their card first rather than hand them yours. This is primarily “social” time, not business development time. You can then set a time to meet for more in depth conversations.

At social events, your date is also under scrutiny. Adults never want to introduce someone as “boyfriend” or “girlfriend” but rather just offer their first and last names. If it’s your spouse, provide that designation.

Help your date be more comfortable by telling them as much about the people they will meet while on your way to the event. Knowing what subjects are good and which ones are off limits makes for a more fun (and profitable) event.

Always thank the host or hostess and let them know how much you appreciate their hospitality. Handwritten thank-you’s are a nice touch for more formal parties. Even an email can show you are thinking about them and their thoughtfulness.

When attending an event at someone’s home, a small gift life a bottle of wine or box of chocolates is usually a welcome gift to show your appreciation for all of their work.

If at a sit-down meal, follow the host/hostess for when to put your napkin in your lap and begin eating.

Wait until they begin eating in case they want to ask a blessing or make a toast. It is embarrassing to begin and then put that fork down.

The lady should sit to the right of her male date/partner.

Look around to see if someone needs an item in front of you and pass them as soon as you have used them: salt and pepper, cream for coffee, etc.

If the host/hostess does not have professional help for their event, it is a very nice gesture to gather plates, glasses and other items you notice laying around. The harried host can then enjoy more time with guests and it only takes you a couple minutes of thoughtfulness.

Never plank your knife between plate and table. Set it across the edge of your dinner plate or bread & butter plate if you have one.

Your bread and butter plate is on the left! Liquids on right—solids on left.

Place your napkin on the back of your seat if you get up briefly and lay it back on your lap as soon as you return. Old order etiquette says to lay it in your chair but think about that…who wants to put it back to your mouth? 

When you are through eating, you are “finished” and never “done.” (My elderly mentor used to scold me about that and said, “Meat is done, you are finished.”)

Good manners and engaging conversation are always a hit!!! For more valuable tips, check out my book “Guide to Marketing Yourself for Success” at https://www.amazon.com/Rita-Rocker/e/B00B788DIU/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1518195479&sr=1-2-ent

 

The Meet & Greet – You Had Me From Hello!

As we know, that first impression is made in as little as seven seconds when people are checking us out physically (demeanor, handshake appearance, our-non-verbal signals) which makes it more difficult for someone to remember our name if given immediately. They haven’t quite started “listening” yet. Before we have said a word, judgments can start forming about our own self-image, outlook on life, economic and educational levels, social position, trustworthiness and future success. Sound like a bit much? Yes. Has research proven this to be true? Yes. Sigh! Here are a few quick tips to keep the conversation going in a relationship-building manner:

At business social functions, shyness may be misunderstood as being socially unskilled so try introducing yourself to as many people as possible. Even if you really don’t want to be there, stay at least a half hour and make the rounds before leaving. This can keep you in the winner’s circle by exhibiting a team player attitude and is beneficial for your work and social relationships.

Why is it so hard to remember someone’s name? As mentioned above, during the first seven seconds we meet someone, we are checking them out visually (looking at their clothing (wow, nice, organized or oh no), hair (just get out of bed?), grooming (gardening this morning?) or a myriad of other things) before we start listening…so we aren’t really hearing them! The best way to introduce yourself, particularly in a large group of people you do not know where you have about ten seconds to stand up and sit down, is to say 1) what you do, 2) for whom, 3) then your name.  Example:  Hi. I provide rapid results programs in professional communication, image and career development with Transformation Academy. My name is Rita…Rocker!  Take a slight pause between your first and last name, adding emphasis (giving a little punch) to your last name. By then, the person should be more focused on listening to you versus giving you the visual once-over.

When shaking hands: Women usually offer their hand first but either gender is welcome to initiate the universal greeting of the handshake. Take the other person’s hand with medium pressure, palm to palm, in a vertical hold and pump 2-3 times, leaning slightly forward. If you can tell what color their eyes are when shaking hands, you have completely connected. If someone takes your hand and turns it horizontally (yes, that really happens), just keep smiling and turn it up in a vertical hold again.That keeps you on a more “psychologically” level playing field! Turning your hand horizontally is a silent signal saying they have “the upper hand” and seek to control the direction the conversation will go. Now, go out and enjoy networking. It’s a wonderful way to build new relationships! And one more thing…if you’re shy, seek out those standing alone. They will welcome you gladly.

While talking, stand approximately 18? from them in order to respect their “space.” Only hold your beverage in your left hand so the right one is free to give your impressive handshake. Find out what “they” do first. Ask for their business card first (if you want to give them yours). Find out what kind of connections they are seeking to enhance their business or lives. Erect, positive, confident and engaged demeanor and posture goes a long way in making lasting relationships. Go for it!!

Rita Rocker, International author, speaker, consultant, Transformation Academy, LLC

Unleashing the Powerful Phoenix Within Your – Rise!

Greek mythology has a very important story that most of us can relate to at one time or another in our lives. Something devastating happened to a creature called Phoenix (a powerful bird) that destroyed it and burned it to ashes. We can often compare such a tragedy to something that has happened (or is currently happening) to us and see the Phoenix as a representation of our own life. Know that there is a new beginning, that no matter how bad (hot) things may get, you will get back up on your feet and once again rise from the ashes. Allow this to be a time for your strength to increase. Make it a permanent mindset that a Phoenix always rises from its own ashes. Let this be your new mantra: you can, and will, always pick yourself up when you are down, broken, used and abused or just plain worn out! Let this picture be absorbed into your mind! Feel Power! See Victory!

While you are allowing your life, mind and body (the physical, mental and emotional you) to rebuild, know that it is okay—actually a very good thing—to back away (avoid negative encounters, words and harsh treatment), in a sense and for a time, so your wings can be strengthened, grow bigger and stronger and take flight. Allow yourself the opportunity to heal from wounds to your mind, body and soul—from the once devastated Phoenix you may have been that possibly crashed and burned…temporarily. Never feel guilty—ever!! Is it time for restoration from a wounded body or spirit? Take refuge under your Creator’s wings. Let His breath sustain you as you rise again so you can then, with a renewed spirit, burst forth with unapologetic passion and strength. Rise Phoenix and soar to new heights. Look back at the picture again. Feel your strength rising!

As legend goes…when the Phoenix rises from the flames to the life it was originally created for, it is so much more powerful than it was before!

(from Rita’s book “Create Your Destiny: Power Steps for Mind-Body Renewal”)