- Who & Why?
Category Archive for: ‘Body Language’
Several years ago I wrote a post on treating your clients like you treat your pets. I still get requests and inquiries about that post, including one just two weeks ago.
So here’s a post along the same lines. This post came about as a result of a conversation with a client last week. She was pointing out that she’s not sure how her brand comes across at work. New in her position as General Counsel of a major corporation, she is working on developing a brand that works for her and for others in her organization. Part of that brand is making sure she is seen as competent, yet warm and caring.
The dialogue then turned to the fact that she is not a particularly “smiley” person. In other words, her natural tendency is not to have a smile on her face. I appreciate this tendency, as I’m not a naturally smiley person either. Many people are not naturally prone to smile, and thus do not have an open and inviting face, during interactions with others during the day.
So I told her what I tell myself all the time. You have to practice and have self-awareness around how you are coming across. You have to practice putting a smile on your face- regularly! I asked her when she finds herself the most animated and smiling the most. Not surprisingly, when she goes home to her kids she is most animated and smiling in an effort to connect with them and show them her affection for them.
I told her the same mentality needs to, and can, apply at work. She needs to approach her staff and colleagues the same way she approaches her kids- with a mentality of connecting with them via animation and smiles. In my mind there is no difference. Sure, the audience differs. However, the end goal is exactly the same.
So stop and think to yourself:
– Are you a “smiley” person or not?
– How often do you smile at work? As much as you smile at home? If not, why?
– How animated are you with your clients and colleagues? Do they connect with you and “get” your communication and affinity for them and your work?
If you answered any of the above questions in the negative, then you’ve got some work to do. Get busy practicing that smile and remember, clients respond to smiles and attention just like kids.
Oftentimes the biggest challenge we face with our personal brands is our inability to “keep it together” well in meetings and conversations with colleagues, clients, etc. Because we are not able to see how we come across, we can’t measure our personal brand perception. As a result, we either: 1) keep showing up and doing the same things that hurt our personal brands OR 2) shift our actions constantly, leading to a disorganized personal brand, lacking clarity and consistency– the hallmark of an effective personal brand.
The best way to approach this challenge is to go into any meeting/situation with an awareness of how you want to come across and make an effort at trying to feel how others perceive you in your efforts. When I say “feel”, I mean use your intuition. Most of us have lost the ability (or never really cultivated it) to use our intuition as our guide- you know, that “gut” feeling you get. To help you discern your brand, also gauge others’ perceptions by studying their facial and body gestures as well as their vocal tone in response to you.
In addition, remember that it is often more effective to ask a well-placed and thought-provoking question in a meeting rather than making random and frequent comments, just to be seen and heard. We often find people don’t know what to do with themselves in meetings, so they keep talking. Perhaps take a symbol of these concepts with you into the meeting and put it in front of you so you are constantly reminded of your goal. Maybe it is a new mug or a paperclip or a pen or take off your watch and put it in front of you.
Always ask yourself:
– How do I want to come across and be perceived in this upcoming meeting/interaction?
– Am I coming across calm and measured?
– Am I talking more than listening?
Personal Branding involves your visual brand, including what you wear that reflects your personal branding goals.
How many times have you attended a crowded networking event where it seemed every professional in attendance was wearing a blue or black suit? How many times have you left events where everyone and everything seemed like a blur? What I mean is you could not quite remember anyone’s name or practice. In other words, no one left any type of impression on you. No one was memorable, let alone credible. Ever wonder why? It is because no one stood out for you. In a sea of sameness based on profession, what is it that you have to help you stand out?
Visual branding is about how you show up for me visually. In other words, we are talking about your actual appearance. Your appearance is only about twenty percent of the personal branding package that we are working to create, but nevertheless an important piece. When you are at a crowded event are you wearing something that will make me stop and take notice of you in a positive way? Or do you choose to blend into the background? Another good way of thinking about your attire and visual brand is to keep asking yourself, “does my attire and appearance bring me profit?”
This is often the point where people roll their eyes. In their opinion the visual portion is “fluff”. After all, not many of us professionals are working daily to make a fashion statement. I tend to agree. However, we also need to realize that society is visual in nature. Why do you think it is that so much money is spent each year by retail clothing stores, and designers producing clothes, marketing them to us and the rest of society?
Society (and businesses who would hire you) tend to pay attention to these things. Michelle Obama is a great example. How often have we heard and seen commentary about her fabulous and toned arms? Or what about her Gap sweaters and casual skirts? And the latest was all the commentary around her red Jason Wu gown at the inauguration ball.
I can’t say I was a fan of her red Jason Wu gown. In the past her clothing selection has denoted a personal brand element for her that was consistent and had clarity. This particular Wu gown did not send the same message to me about Michelle Obama’s personal brand. That’s my perception, that’s my reality and therefore, it is correct- for me.
Regardless of whether you liked Michelle Obama’s red gown or not, the fact is that we are talking and writing about it. There was even a column in the Huffington Post on it! Just as we notice Michelle Obama’s arms and gowns, people notice you and your visual brand and form judgments about you and your business based on it. If you disagree because you claim you are not the First Lady and thus, not super visible – you are fooling yourself!!
Does your attire bring you profit? What is your visual brand? Does it work for you? If not, what will you change and how?
I was listening to a Sunday service yesterday where the lecturer was talking about how nice it is that our thoughts are not projected out loud. Then she asked a question that made me laugh, but also made me think about the personal branding work we do. She asked us if we often show our thoughts externally to others.
So I started thinking. How often do you walk down the street and see people reflecting their thoughts to us all? Some people mumble their thoughts out loud for us to hear. Others literally show up in life visually reflecting their thoughts- for good or for bad.
You may ask, “How do they do this?” There are so many ways, but let’s just take one- our eyes. The eyes are the gateway to the soul, they say. So how often do your eyes tell us exactly what you are thinking?
I was in a meeting a few weeks ago. It was boring and the people were acting in a way with which I completely disagreed. Apparently, I was “thinking” out loud through my eyes. One of my colleagues was gracious enough to lean over and tell me she was reading my discontent through my eyes. I was so grateful for the feedback. I immediately fixed the problem: not only did I change my gaze, but I changed my thoughts regarding the meeting. That’s the only way it would work.
Because I had changed my perception and thoughts about the meeting, I was able to change my gaze, posture and entire outlook regarding the meeting and the participants. After that, any thoughts that you read via my eyes and “being” were fabulous for my personal brand because I was happy, engaged and a willing participant.
So next time you believe you are keeping your thoughts and opinions to yourself, look again. Are you really keeping your thoughts private or are you reflecting your thoughts externally to us all? In order to resonate joyfully with your audience (ie, the world) and have a fabulous personal brand, watch your:
-thoughts, above all else
-intonation (vocal, email, text)