The Art of Self-expression

The strongest message can be diluted by an inappropriate choice of words. The message may not be perceived as confident or business-oriented as you really are. Your message is three-fold: body signals (do they match what you’re saying?), tone of voice and choice of words.

Business language is different from social conversation. Avoid using “empty” modifiers such as thanking a sales representative “ever so much,” or referring to a job applicant as a “lovely person.” A better choice of words would include bright, intelligent, quick wit, etc.

Instead of saying, “That was great!” try “I felt you gave an excellent and thorough presentation. It will be very helpful to us.”Exclude “tentative” words such as “I was kind of wondering if” or “I think we could try.” Eliminate “well,” “sort of,” “kind of” and “maybe” from your business vocabulary. These phrases all show uncertainty.

Leave out cold and dictatorial commands. Use “please,” “when you can,” and “what do you think?” which are better choices.
Harsh: “I want to talk to you.”Uncertain: “May I talk to you?”
Confident: “I want to talk with you when you’re free.”
Consider the kind of message that each of the following phrases projects: “Maybe you could call tomorrow?” “Call tomorrow.” “Please call tomorrow as soon as you can.” The third is the most favorable for cooperation.

Self-effacing: “I know this sounds stupid, but…” Apologies don’t contribute to the speaker’s image of a confident professional. Instead, it is better to say, “Tell me if I’m on the right track with this, I believe…” Be careful not to raise your voice at the end of each sentence: “Hello? This is John? I’m calling about your monthly report?” It gives the impression of uncertainty.

Force yourself to stand tall, walk with authority, look others in the eye and speak up. If you’re nervous, you may need to speak more slowly and lower your pitch (especially if you’re a woman).

Remember: Winston Churchill was a self-made speaker. He was 5/5” tall, stuttered, lisped and had little college education. He was so terrified of public speaking that he passed out while delivering a speech to the House of Commons. However, he practiced his speeches for four hours and became a great orator and statesman! A little determination and practice can go a long way in building greater credibility and stronger relationships!

How to Successfully Work in the Cubicle World!

Because those in cubes so visible, subconscious assumption that person always available.

Control over own space:  Knock on cube walls (even if only symbolic foam partitions) before speaking.  Ask permission to enter.  Don’t hover if they’re on the phone.  “Don, we’re in close quarters, but would you mind giving me privacy when I’m on the phone?”

Don’t loiter:  Conversation free-floating among people who are trying to make phone calls, read or write important documents and concentrate on their work.  “Mary, I’m working on something right now that demands my full concentration.”

Odors:  No boundaries.  What smells good to you can turn someone else’s stomach.  If eat at desk, take trash out immediately.  Shoes ON.  Strong perfume.

Possibly alternate lunch hours with those around you to have some quiet time.

Aware of what you say and how loud you are.  Personal tiffs, weird bodily functions, clipping or tapping nails, gum popping, the radio, etc.  Avoid shouting over walls.  Assume everyone within a four-cube radius can hear you.  Take sensitive matters to a closed-door room.  No vibrating cell phones on your desk jumping around.

“Prairie Dogging”  Popping head up over cube (or talking over wall):  “Bob, I know it’s easiest for you to talk over the wall, but would you do me a favor and come around?”

Cubeland Home:  Tastefully “framed photos,” nice plants, small Persian rug, meaningful knickknacks or posters.  THESE ALL GIVE OFF POSITIVE IMPRESSIONS.

 For more information on a seminars or personal coaching, contact Rita Rocker, Chief Communications and Image Officer, Transformation Academy, 402-968-3250 rita@transformationacademy.com, www.transformationacademy.

 Follow Rita on FaceBook: Rita Rocker;   Twitter: @Rita_Rocker       LinkedIn: http://budurl.com/ayjl;     YouTube: RitaRockerSpeaks 


How Do I Handle This Introduction?

Business Introductions:  Why is it so hard to remember someone’s name?  Well, the first seven seconds we are sizing them up before listening (checking out their clothing, hair, grooming or a myriad of other things)…so we aren’t really listening!  The best way to introduce yourself, particularly if you are standing up in a large group of individuals you do not know, is to say 1) what do, 2) for whom, and then your name).  Example:  Hi.  I’m Chief Communications and Image Officer with Transformation Academy.  My name is Rita Rocker!  Take a slight pause between your first and last name, adding a little emphasis to the last name.  By then, the person should be more focused on listening to you versus giving the visual once-over

When introducing two people during business:

Introduce the person with the “least important” title (regardless of gender) to the person with the most important title.  For example: Mr. or Ms. Greater Authority, I would like to introduce you to Mr. or Ms. Lesser Authority.  This usually refers to saying the company president’s name before the sales rep.  When introducing someone to an individual from another company, the one with the “highest position” is actually the guest, or client…even if he/she holds “lower” title.

Introductions should be brief.  “How do you do?” or “Hello” is fine.  If you can’t remember someone’s name, reintroduce yourself and they will often say their name again.  If they don’t, say something like, “We met at last month’s marketing conference at the Embassy Suites.  I apologize but I don’t remember your name.”  They should offer it to you at that point.  If they still don’t, just smile and say, “I apologize but I don’t remember your name.”

The main thing to remember is to lean slightly forward, give a warm handshake, smile and be totally sincere and engaged in getting to know them.

For more information on a seminars or personal coaching, contact Rita Rocker, Chief Communications and Image Officer, Transformation Academy, 402-968-3250 rita@transformationacademy.com, www.transformationacademy.   Follow Rita on FaceBook: Rita Rocker;   Twitter: @Rita_Rocker       LinkedIn: http://budurl.com/ayjl;     YouTube: RitaRockerSpeaks

Is Your Appearance Giving YOU the Competitive Edge?

Your clothing should help you move up socially and in business, not hold you back!  Appearance can work for you by projecting a polished, confident image…or it can work against you by having scuffed, run down shoes, wrinkled clothing or ragged fingernails, which cry of low self-esteem, carelessness or that there is no motivation to go any further in life.  You always want to be recognized as a polished, intelligent and articulate professional rather than remembered for what you wore.

 Dress for the position–or clients–you want, not for the one you have.  Your wardrobe reflects your personality—creative, dramatic, intellectual, conservative, unsophisticated, or careless.  Avoid wearing clothing that overwhelms your size or personality.  You do not want your outfit to speak louder than your own character; however, you may perk up a drab personality by wearing clothing that is more appealing and friendly.

GlassesModerate size adds weight and authority.  They should cover eyebrows and be in a neutral color or complement hair and skin tone.  Too trendy or colorful are distracting.

Rain WearUse a solid handled umbrella with ten or more spokes.  Avoid plastic hats and coats if possible.

Attaché Case:  Get the best quality you can afford.  Shop the discount stores for quality leather.  They should be simple and functional.  Ladies on business calls, avoid taking an attaché case and a purse.

Wallets/Luggage:  Dark brown or maroon leather works best.  Invest in a matched canvas luggage set with leather belting when you can afford it.  Use a business card for identification rather than your home address.  Carry a tasteful business card holder.

The One-month CalendarIn order to fully realize the impact your clothing styles and colors have on your performance and the messages they portray to others, try the one-month calendar.  Each evening, write down what you wore—color, style, and fabric.  Describe how you felt and how others reacted to you.  Were they cooperative or antagonistic?  Warm or aloof?  Did they treat you with respect or indifference?  You will see a pattern that will help you dress in the most beneficial manner for your career.

Best Way to Get More Mileage Out of Your WardrobeChoose three compatible and flattering colors.  Ask yourself:  Can I wear it with three outfits I already have?  To three different events?  For three years and still look quality?  Accessorize it three different ways?

The Business Social Function:  If you are not sure what type of clothing is best for a business social function, keep an extra blouse/shirt, accessories, etc., in the car for a quick change if needed.  Strive for a sophisticated look.

What is Business Casual…Really?

Opinions on business casual vary among industries and areas of the country.  Even on “dress down days” you can still dress a notch above the norm.  Business casual is an extension of professional, yet in a more relaxed manner.  Suits are off the scale at the top, but anything worn, frayed, scuffed, dirty, wrinkled, ill-fitting, revealing, out-of-date or offensive is also off the bottom end of the scale.

Considerable research has been conducted on the effect of dress in the social environment.  When business associates meet in a social setting or on casual Fridays, they carry back to the business world the impressions they receive and the judgments they make based upon those impressions.  A well-dressed person is the one who attends a social function and, when he or she leaves, people say, “Did you notice how nice he/she looked?”  Yet no body can tell you what he or she was wearing.

Even in the casual setting, the one with more polish and professionalism will usually beat out the competition.

Wearing anything too trendy in a conservative environment can become a liability in that setting.  If your job is in a creative field, it might benefit you to be up to date.  Clothing for work has more to do with appropriateness, boundaries and respect than it has to do with fashion.  Neutral colors will not draw as much attention to a more casual style.

Avoid anything with large logos, tee-shirts with controversial messages and items that are too revealing.

Unbutton no more than the top button on shirts or blouses.

Pants with belt loops must be worn with a belt (in good condition and in the appropriate color and style).  Cut off the loops if you don’t want to wear a belt.

Remember, people are judged within the first seven seconds and you always want to portray the confident professional, whether on casual Fridays or doing business on the golf course!

Breaking Generational Barriers Part 5: What Can YOU Do?

We began this short series with basic intergenerational tips, followed by insights and suggestions for working with Baby Boomers, Generation X and Generation Y.  Following are some potentially “not-so-easy” suggestions that, when practiced, will help close the generational gap and make for a more cooperative and pleasant working environment:

Read More…

There’s No Such Thing as “Can’t” (#1)

Many of us have been experiencing one setback after another in our personal and professional lives.  Sometimes, unkind or discouraging words said to us as children can leave such a deep scar in our hearts and minds that we don’t know what to do but live down to the self-fulfilling prophecy that someone bestowed on us.  Since discouragement likes to rear its ugly head and keep us from achieving our purpose, I will share powerful examples with you of individuals who overcame debilitating odds and changed the “I can’t” to “I can and I will!”

I’d like to encourage you that with perseverance, you CAN do so much more.  If these individuals I write about can accomplish their dreams and overcome major challenges, who are we not to accomplish ours?

Today I’ll start with myself.  Grew up poor, no self-esteem and felt unloved by my father who thought the horse races were much more important than taking me to the doctor when I was really sick. Sitting on that bus with my mom (dad had left for the races), a seed was planted in me that said, “You are of no real value, not even as important as a horse.  You don’t deserve the love and care of a man either.”  The fear of failure, rejection and abandonment had their long claws deep within my side as I grew into a mature adult.  My life was spent in destructive behavior, quitting everything I started, multiple jobs and bad relationships, being a battered wife (twice), with drugs and drinking to forget who I was.  Later when I asked God to please take over, I still didn’t think I was good enough and continued many of the same destructive patterns for several more years before I let Him love me.  Meanwhile, I was commuting to take care of ill, elderly parents.  Living with the loss of my son for most of his life growing up (which caused constant guilt and self-condemnation that made me even more destructive).  Losing a good husband to cancer who had come into my life between abusive marriages. Through it all, God had a plan for me to win the Mrs. Nebraska pageant although my husband was dying. It was excruciating.  Exactly a year after being in the Mrs. America pageant, I ended up on missions in Haiti, a widow covered with bug bites and sleeping on a rock floor.  It was the worst of times and the best of times because of the lessons I learned.  That story is at http://www.transformationacademy.com/?page_id=155.   After  living most of my life as a fearful “reject,” I now live my life helping others with that magical epiphany that says, “You are valuable, a pearl of great price, and you deserve only the best that life has to offer!”

So, believing that I “couldn’t” accomplish my life’s purpose was finally silenced.  There is no such word as “can’t” and nothing will tell me otherwise.  You CAN, no matter what has transpired.  It’s a new day!  Stay tuned for several true examples coming your way in these next two weeks! Tomorrow:  Wilma Rudolph, the Olympic gold medalist once crippled by polio.

Are you being refined in the fire?

For all of those who are now going “through a fire” in your life, here is a greater understanding and hopefully, valuable encouragement about getting victoriously to the “other side.” I recently read about how silver is refined and the painful process it goes through to get to the beautiful end of the process. We often go through a similar process but don’t realize Who is safely taking us through.    

Malachi 3:3 says: ‘He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.’    This verse puzzled some women in a Bible study and they wondered what this statement meant about the character and nature of God  and the women offered to find out the process of refining silver and get back to the group at their next Bible Study. 

That week, the woman called a silversmith and made an appointment to watch him at work. She didn’t mention anything about the reason for her interest beyond her curiosity about the process of refining Silver.  As she watched the silversmith, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest as to burn away all the impurities. 

The woman thought about God holding us in such a hot spot; then she thought again about the verse that says:  ‘ He sits as a refiner and purifier of silver.’  She asked the silversmith if it was true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the whole time.  The man answered that yes, he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. If the silver was left a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed. 

The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silversmith, ‘How do you know when the silver is fully refined?’ He smiled at her and answered, ‘ Oh, that’s easy — when I see my image in it.’    If today you are feeling the heat of the fire , remember that God has His eye on you and will keep watching you until He sees His image in youAnd, whatever they’re going through, they’ll be a stronger and more resilient person with a purpose in the end. 

‘Life is a coin. You can spend it anyway you wish, but you can only spend it once.’   Thank you God, for teaching me to laugh again…… but please Lord, don’t ever let me forget that I cried.

Building Your Business: You Had Me At Hello

As you meet new clients and build new build new business relationships, be intent on presenting yourself in a positive manner, upbeat and confident about your work and life.  

Thinking of the new introductions you prepared (see previous blog), assess the results of your interactions.  How?  After you leave the event, think about how comfortable you were and how others responded to you.  Depending on how successful your conversations went, modify your introduction and stories accordingly.  Could you ask more questions about them and their businesses to keep the ball rolling in a more engaging conversation?

Next time you meet someone new and find out what they do (by those excellent listening skills of yours), you could

  • enhance your new relationship by giving them valuable suggestions which they could then use in their business.  This will also showcase your expertise.
  • refer them to other businesses that they would benefit from.  Giving referrals means you are carefully listening to them and want to help them grow their business.  It also opens the door for them to send business back your way, reciprocating your referral to their business.  Just make sure the referrals are “good” businesses with solid reputations.

Exercise:  Write out and practice how you will introduce yourself to a variety of individuals from various industries. _______________

Go get ’em!

For more information on a seminars or personal coaching, contact Rita Rocker, National Speaker, Communications, Image and Presentations Coach, Transformation Academy, 402-968-3250 rita@transformationacademy.com, www.transformationacademy.  Follow Rita on FaceBook: Rita Rocker;   Twitter: @Rita_Rocker       LinkedIn: http://budurl.com/ayjl;     YouTube: RitaRockerSpeaks,   http://womenforhire.com/career_experts/rita_rocker, http://www.presentationgym.net/training/coach_bio/21

Preparing for Friendly Networking Conversations

Are you comfortable initiating conversations with people you have never met when you are at networking events?  How about preparing ahead of time?

First off, do a self-assessment, know what is interesting about yourself and share it!  YES, you have many interesting (business appropriate) things to share!

Whether accomplishments, appropriate family stories they can relate to, or humorous, suitable anecdotes  that can flow from you naturally, prepare some friendly conversation topics ahead of time to share with those you meet.  Adjust your level of formality depending on who you are talking to, their type of business, and type of product or service you are offering.  Talking to a mechanic about new equipment requires a different wardrobe, level of formality in speech, and type of stories to share than when meeting the CEO of a financial firm. 

Exercise:  What specifically you are doing, or have done, that will make you interesting? engaging? or that validates your experience, knowledge and why you stand above your competition? _________________________________________.  Take time to really think about this. Give yourself credit where credit is due!!

How can you be as descriptive as possible?  Here is an example:  Which one of these phrases gets your attention? “I sell insurance” or “I can give you a some powerful examples of where the insurance plans I designed for my clients saved them from disaster and provided a comfortable financial cushion later on.”

Work out your descriptions until they flow, sound confident and depict the true nature of your business and your capabilities!

For more information on a seminars or personal coaching, contact Rita Rocker, National Speaker, Communications, Image and Presentations Coach, Transformation Academy, 402-968-3250 rita@transformationacademy.com, www.transformationacademy.  Follow Rita on FaceBook: Rita Rocker;   Twitter: @Rita_Rocker       LinkedIn: http://budurl.com/ayjl;     YouTube: RitaRockerSpeaks,   http://womenforhire.com/career_experts/rita_rocker, http://www.presentationgym.net/training/coach_bio/21