Image Builders Up Close and Personal
I recently polled fellow etiquette coaches to determine what they felt, beyond appearance, was the No. 1 most important image-building characteristic. Trustworthiness, confidence, empathy, charisma, compassion and genuineness were all mentioned. But by majority, here were the Top 5 image builders.
» Your smile — Your willingness and readiness to smile. It is the single most evident indication of your brand. It reveals you are friendly, warm and inclusive. And, it is the universal language that prompts a smile back. It disarms, solves problems, reverses negative situations and is healing.
» Body language (goes with the smile, doesn’t it?) — Having a positive attitude supports and encourages others without judgment. This includes posture, which shows you are confident whether walking into a meeting or social situation. When seated, erect posture can reveal your participation by listening and trying to understand. Leaning into the conversation and then slightly back shows engagement. Listening, drawing back and thinking, then leaning forward again, always erect, feet flat on the floor, shoulders back. Remember, if you can’t walk across a room with a book balanced on your head, you need to improve your posture. Body language, in addition to a smile, includes eye contact. And, think about where your arms are. If they are crossed, are they acting as a barrier to the other person?
» We kept going back to Maya Angelou’s quote: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Being able to make someone feel good about themselves when they are with you is a wonderful talent that will leave people with an incredible image of you.
» Combined with how you make others feel, the ability to listen carefully and respond to the other person’s needs makes you the smartest person in the room.
» Self-esteem and confidence were at the top of our list. Combine that with the ability to honor one’s own uniqueness to shape energy into success. If your goal is to be received as part of a team, then create an image that “fits” with the majority of the team, and participate in ways that can be received. Smiling and helping other to feel good are useful here. If your goal is to lead a group of people to success, then support yourself in being an inspiring person who helps people feel received and honored for the resources they contribute — set expectations and stretch objectives and stay true to your own willingness to succeed. Let your self-esteem and confidence be role models for others.
Image Killers Online
If we employ the characteristics above to build image, it is critical that we don’t undermine that image on social media. The group discussed the best ways to kill your image using social media. Here are the Top 4 killers.
» The use of hate speech, sexist or racial slurs followed by overly polarizing political/religious commentary. These can create an image crisis from which one may not ever truly recover.
» The use of profanity. Someone who presents in real life and in professional settings as appropriate, well-spoken and pulled-together can truly undermine his/her credibility by cutting completely loose on social media.
» Inappropriate or embarrassing photos with comment threads that get out of hand.
» Giving out too much information, including trivia, which is of no interest to others, such as what you are doing or thinking at the moment. Example: “I think I will eat a cupcake;” “I am at the dentist;” “My stomach hurts.”
The Key to building both your personal and professional image is consistency across all “platforms.” Think of image-building like you would branding a product. Understand that the most successful brands stay within the boundaries of what you have come to admire about them, and let that be your guide.
— John Daly is the founder and president of The Key Class, the go-to guide for job search success. Click here to learn more about The Key Class or to get his book. Connect with The Key Class on Facebook. Follow John Daly on Twitter: @johndalyjr. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.