Every day Dale deals with a familiar pattern. He sits in meeting after meeting with colleagues who feel more like competitors. Every day he reads about the ‘future of work’ and how automation and technology are taking human beings out of the mix. In every meeting he feels the tension in the room as people eye each other off… ‘is he a threat?’, ‘is she building a better network than me?’ ‘I’d better watch him… he is so smooth.” You know the drill. You want to get ahead but not sure how to stand-out without feeling like you’re competing or showing off.
Having a presence in the office is something people often shy away from. Nobody likes to be seen as loud and rambunctious – that’s why most of us prefer to work away silently and let our achievements make the impact for us. While this is a noble way to think about your professional presence, humans are unfortunately hardwired to judge people instantly on appearance. And who can blame them? After all, it’s really hard to judge how much effort you’re putting in behind the safety of your own desk every day.
The downside is that these slightly superficial tendencies can make the pathway to the top of the corporate ladder seem like a popularity contest. If you want to be an effective leader, you can’t just rely on expertise to get you to the next level. You also need impactful communication skills and great presence. You need to strive to be the whole package.
“If you want to be an effective leader, you can’t just rely on expertise to get you to the next level. You also need impactful communication skills and great presence.”
This post will give you some proven ways to make sure your presence is leaving a positive impact on your colleagues and higher-ups.
Did you know Steve Jobs agonised over the quality of the packing as much as he did about Apple products? “The experience of opening the box is just as important as experiencing the product.” Jobs saw opening the product as an event, with the package laid out so that you discover the beautiful device in just the right sequence. What does this have to do with your presence? Well, everything.
You’re probably an excellent worker that knows your job inside and out. But, do you give much thought to what you put on in the morning? The way we project ourselves on the outside is just as important as to how smart we are on the inside. Wearing smart and professional clothing will make you appear smart and professional. Would you trust a dentist with your teeth if they sat down in gym gear without protective clothing? Absolutely not. Dressing professionally projects professionalism. The packaging respects the product.
Don’t let your ambition get the better of your manners
Your attitude in all situations needs to be respectful. Often we don’t realise that we can appear to be resentful or rude in our communications. This leads to our colleagues losing respect for us and treating us in the same way as we were treating them. You can’t see your colleagues as your competitors all of the time, you’re a team and you need to treat them as such to achieve the common goal. Carefully choose your words, don’t forget to smile and deeply listen to your colleagues. Absorb what they’re saying and try to add positive and helpful comments to the mix. It will take time, but you’ll start to notice everyone will become a lot nicer and easier to work with.
“You can’t see your colleagues as your competitors all of the time, you’re a team and you need to treat them as such to achieve the common goal.”
Eliminate ‘Yes But Chicken’ behaviour
Maybe your colleagues aren’t as up to date in the skills department as you are. It’s possible what they’re suggesting is actually impossible to implement. You might find yourself slipping into a competing conversation and becoming the negative one. Often our default response when someone is wrong is: ‘Yes, but… Yes, but…”. It can be hard to step out of this. Instead, try approaching the situation with a calm tone and add something positive. For example, you could say, ‘While that’s a good starting point for us, our team would need to approach it this way due to technical restraints.’
Your audience won’t change unless you do. Re-evaluating how you appear on the outside, as well as choosing your words carefully, takes time. And while your knowledge, skills and analysis have not changed, the attitudes toward you from your team and your managers will. And, it will lead to greater opportunities. If you want to learn how to take your skills even further download our storytelling ebook. You’ll get great tips and tricks on how and when to use stories to get your message across.
The Colin James Method® Facilitators train corporate executives to improve their professional communication skills with a proven methodology. Our highly trained Facilitators and Coaches are recognised for their experience in their fields and have worked with many individuals and organisations around the world to master the art of communication.
Colin James is a well-respected Educator, Keynote Speaker, Facilitator and Co-Founder of The Colin James Method® and Inner Profit Pty Ltd a vibrant leadership development company in Australia. Creating memorable, impactful world-class events that deeply influence the way people feel, think and behave is Colin James’ forte