What’s the key to appearing in control, self-assured and adept in the workplace? It all starts with a positive image.
The choices you make every morning when you wake up, get dressed and walk out the door set the tone for the day to come. People will either view you as a poised professional or an inexperienced employee. When you step through the door with confidence, you are well on your way to making a powerful impression.
Get to Work Early
Arriving at your desk right on time means you’re already late: you can’t jump directly from your car into your workday. If you plan to have breakfast at the office or make yourself a special coffee drink, get to work early and give yourself time to eat your oatmeal or make a latte without starting your day off delayed. A few quiet, unrushed moments will set a precedent for the rest of your day. Relax and enjoy the time as your peers race into the office, visibly flustered from morning traffic.
Walk into your meeting a few minutes early with a pen, notepad and any documents you might need. It’s better to be ready for anything instead of flying back to your desk to rifle through drawers searching for a crucial document; or worse, finding yourself caught off-guard at a client’s office. Being organized will always leave a strong impression on your client or boss.
Groom at Home
Getting ready for work should take place on your own time, in the privacy of your bathroom (or locker room if you’re someone who hits the gym on your way in). Don’t wait until you get to work to shave, clip your nails or floss your teeth. Personal grooming should be conducted outside of the office unless you have a facility set up specifically for that reason. Some offices offer a shower and dressing room for those who work out during lunch or before work. If so, feel free to take advantage of the perk.
Take the High Road
No matter how hard you work to get along with coworkers, things will undoubtedly go awry. Handle disagreements discreetly and directly. If you have beef, take it to the source or handle it privately with a supervisor. Leave emotions out of the conversation, stating the facts calmly. Don’t vent across the office to anyone who will listen. It ruins your credibility, adds to the office gossip mill and makes you appear unprincipled.
Dress the Part
Every workplace has a dress code. Be sure you not only follow the policy, but your attire is clean and well-maintained. You don’t have to wear expensive clothing, but your outfits should be coordinated, well-kept and in line with the office policy. It’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed; don’t take the lead from the most relaxed dresser in the company. The way you present yourself says a great deal about your self-image.
Mind Your Manners—and Your Mouth
We spend more than 40 hours a week at the office and our coworkers often see more of us than our family. Don’t let that familiarity cause you to forget your manners or let your language slip. “Please,” “excuse me,” and “thank you” are small courtesies which never fail to influence.
Speak to your coworkers as you would your best client and never use profanity. It’s offensive, crass and tacky. You may not realize it, but people do notice when your language becomes R-rated. They also notice when you share too much personal information about your life – even though they may be too polite to call you out.
Shy Away from Gossip
Biting your tongue goes beyond keeping your language clean. Avoid office gossip to maintain a positive reputation. While it’s good to forge a bond with coworkers, talking negatively about your bosses or clients will never win you any points. If gossip begins when you’re around, speak up in a polite but firm manner, letting the gossiper know you’re uncomfortable talking about whoever is the target. Change the subject or redirect the conversation. Strive to demonstrate behavior which establishes a respect for those on your team.
You may also like 10 Ways to Go From Adequate to Exceptional in the Office. For more of Diane’s etiquette tips read her posts on Inc., subscribe to her articles on HuffPost, “like” The Protocol School of Texas on Facebook, and follow her on Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter. Buy her new book, Modern Etiquette for a Better Life.