professional image

Sharpen Your Professional Image

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No matter what your job title is, you have to earn the respect of your colleagues, supervisors, and employees if you want to succeed at work. Here are some guidelines for sharpening your professional image:

• Fine-tune your appearance. Pay attention to how others in your organization dress, especially upper-level executives, and model your style after that. Keep your hair neatly trimmed. Resist the temptation to dress too casually, even on “casual Friday.”

• Take notes. In meetings and when talking to managers, make a point of writing down the important points. This will help you remember what’s said, of course, but more important, you’ll show you’re paying attention and taking other people seriously.

• Speak authoritatively. Eliminate “uh” and “um” from your vocabulary. Don’t try to come across as an obnoxious know-it-all, but concentrate on speaking clearly. Good communication builds credibility.

• Control your emotions. Nobody wants to work alongside someone who’s always angry. Even extreme cheerfulness can be counterproductive—colleagues may think you’re not taking situations seriously. You don’t have to suppress your emotions entirely, but don’t let them take center stage all the time.

• Stay organized. A neat workspace shows that you’re efficient and detail-oriented. Clean it regularly, discarding what you don’t need and putting important items in the proper place so you can retrieve them quickly.

• Be patient. Time is a limited resource, but don’t obsess over speed. Impatience strikes many people as evidence of immaturity, so temper your urgency with understanding.

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