By Kerry Preston. New Year’s resolutions are common in our personal lives. If you’re like most Americans, eating less, exercising more, and spending more quality time with family are at the top of your list.
We strive to make lifestyle changes that will positively impact our everyday lives. So when we as working people spend nearly every day at work, why are New Year’s resolutions rarely applied to our professional lives? I say, resolve to be more professional in 2012 and make a lasting, positive impact on your career for life.
Have you ever wondered why you did not get the dream job or promotion that you worked so hard for or why you lost an important sale or client? Perhaps you’ve had an employee who created a negative impression while meeting with or entertaining an important client.
Proper etiquette in the workplace is being increasingly recognized as a competitive advantage in business. And now is the time that many companies and individuals are evaluating, reshaping and improving their total presence and professionalism.
Just what is professionalism and how does it affect a company’s bottom line? Essentially, professionalism is proper conduct in the workplace; it is knowing how to handle yourself in every business situation with confidence. There are many rules, innuendoes, and rights and wrongs of doing business in American corporate culture today. Understanding these “rules” and expected business practices will enhance your overall professionalism and give you—and your company—an advantage over your competition.
When it comes right down to it, professionalism is projected through your image, and image is how others perceive us.
Polishing your image will give people the opportunity to actually hear what you have to say and not get bogged down by aspects of your appearance and behavior that could sabotage your business goal.
There’s an old saying that you have only one chance to make a first impression. In fact, every time we meet someone we have the opportunity to make an impression—whether it be the first, second or even the fiftieth. It is human nature to make judgments about people when we meet them. Within seconds we’ve formulated many impressions.
Think about the impressions you form regarding others…are they knowledgeable, friendly, clean? From those impressions, people decide whether they like you, dislike you, or are indifferent about you. Even more importantly, these impressions may influence whether they to do business with you. Be aware of how important your interactions are from the moment you get up in the morning until your workday starts to wind down.
As you begin formulating your business resolutions, consider the following tips in order to form more positive and impactful impressions:
*Be on time every day in every situation
*Be interested not interesting
*Use appropriate language
*Be personable not personal
*Follow up and follow through
*Under promise and over deliver
*Send handwritten thank you notes
The good news about resolving to be more professional is that it is a realistic commitment you can keep. Once you’ve learned the “rules” of the workplace, putting them into practice will enhance your overall professionalism and make you more effective in your career.
Kerry Preston is the co-author of You Did What? The Biggest Mistakes Professionals Make and Vice-President of Image Dynamics. She delivers keynotes, trains companies, and consults individuals on professionalism and productivity in the workplace.