Arrogance, Confidence, Humility, Leadership, Visibility

Guest Blog: Confidence, Arrogance, Visibility and Humility

Leaders inspire others by their example and so leaders must be visible, whether in a corporate setting or an entrepreneurial one, in small groups or on a worldwide stage.

“There’s a thin line between confidence and arrogance…its called humility. Confidence smiles. Arrogance smirks” (unknown)phpThumb_generated_thumbnailjpg

Jim Collins is a business consultant and author on company sustainability and growth; in his book “Good to Great (2001)” Collins argues that the key ingredient that allows a company to become great is having an executive in whom genuine personal humility blends with intense professional will.

Visibility used to be restricted to the people you met; now you can interact on a global stage using your smart phone. People’s memories fade but a digital footprint lasts forever. Navigating the line between confidence and arrogance is as old as leadership itself but having an online presence ups the ante. Leaders now have an ‘online brand’; you’ve got a LinkedIn profile – right? Whether you call it a brand, or your reputation, whether it’s online or in person, how you come across as a leader impacts your ability to influence others. Too much humility and you’ll be an invisible wallflower, too little and you run the risk of being an arrogant oaf.

Here are some definitions in the context of leadership:

  • Confidence: A feeling of self-assurance arising from an appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities:
  • Arrogant: Having or revealing an exaggerated sense of one’s own importance or abilities:
  • Humility: Recognizing what we do well, as well as what we do not do so well, is vital to self-awareness, openness and having a clear perspective, and therefore respect, for one’s place in context.

“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” (C. S. Lewis)

Perception is reality. No matter how good your intentions are, what matters is how you are perceived. Here are 10 ways to stay on the confident side of the line…

  1. Maintain eye contact (arrogant people constantly look over people’s shoulder for someone ‘better’ to talk to)
  2. Arrive on time, every time (arrogant people think their time is more important than everyone else’s)
  3. Walk with confidence (not with swagger)
  4. Admit you don’t know and learn something in the process (arrogant people have an answer for everything and as a result are often unteachable).
  5. Seek to be interested more than interesting (arrogant people are more concerned with telling you what they know)
  6. Talk about your relevant accomplishments and contacts (arrogant people brag and name-drop out of context)
  7. Acknowledge what others do (don’t be condescending or put others down)
  8. Talk about the strengths of your own company (not the weaknesses of others)
  9. Delegate authority and responsibility (arrogant people “pull rank”)
  10. Adopt a “buck stops here” attitude to responsibility (arrogant people blame others when things don’t go to plan)visibility_continuum

This guest blog was written by associate Dr Angela Armstrong of http://www.angelaarmstrong.cAngela Armstrongom.  Please contact Angela is you would like to know more about her coaching, consultancy and training.

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Authentic, Authenticity, Body Language, Confidence, First Impressions, Image consultancy, Leadership, Lyn Bromley, Men in Business, Women in business

How to Express Your Leadership Presence

iStock_000017925351SmallLeaders of men and women come in many guises, from successful business people like Richard Branson and Sheryl Sandberg, to spiritual and political leaders like Gandhi or Martin Luther King.  One thing effective leaders have in common is presence and by learning how to maximise yours, you will be developing an essential vital non-verbal communication skill that will ensure you look like a leader. The art of communication is surely one of the most vital skills of any leader, the power to persuade and appearance plays and important role in that process. In this very visual world, we are all influenced by what we see and so our appearance needs to match what’s on the inside – our abilities, characteristics and values. Otherwise, we get mixed messages. The ability to manage our image is a positive communication skill and something we can easily learn like any other for career success.

Deep impact

First and foremost, you have to make an impact. Effective leaders will almost always have ‘presence’ or that indefinable X factor. They will either give an impression of quiet authority or of obvious power, according to their personal style. Your posture, demeanour and the way you interact with people – as well as appearance – will all contribute to your personal presence. It has often been described that leaders ‘take up space’ and are comfortable doing so. They stand, move and dress confidently and assertively.  Good leaders will be well aware of the subliminal messages of non-verbal communication, including image and your body language, and will use these tricks effectively. Leaders also make the rules rather than follow them and have the confidence to dress to reflect their personality and business. Think of Sir John Harvey-Jones with his natty suits and flamboyant socks, Richard Branson’s early years in his approachable knitwear or Anita Roddick’s style echoing her individuality and ethical interests. Each of these leaders has a very distinctive personal image. You need to develop your personal style to suit your style of leadership. Whatever look you choose, you must be true to your personality and remain individual to ensure you’re memorable.

Feel the quality

And, whether you believe money is the measure of success or not, when it comes to appearance, quality counts.  That doesn’t mean you have to buy the most expensive items you can find – it’s about seeking clothes and accessories where the quality of the material and craftsmanship is evident.  A perfectly fitting lightweight wool suit, an immaculate silk tie or a beautifully stitched handbag in softest leather – they all breathe quality.  Too often in corporate life, an individual’s impact is marred by the inclusion of an item that jars.  A smart tailored suit and crisp shirt can be undermined by teaming them with a cheap plastic watch and biro.  It gives out a message of poor judgement, poor quality and a sloppy approach to work.  The subliminal message you want people to pick up from your appearance is ‘here is someone who knows what they are doing, where they are going, with sound judgement and an eye for quality and detail’.

Role Model

Another aspect of effective leadership is taking your duty as a role model seriously.  Individuals leading their own businesses can obviously make the rules, but should remember that they are role models for those following them up the career ladder and so should set the standard for the company.  Giving clear messages to your employees about how you expect them to dress at work will make them feel far more comfortable than a confusing ‘anything goes’ atmosphere.   Make it clear to your staff or team just what you expect of them – and avoid vague terms than can be misinterpreted. The current trend towards a ‘modern professional’ dress code, where an employee is expected to make judgements about what look each day’s activities require, is a good test of their business acumen. Judging when to opt for ‘formal business’, knowing when ‘relaxed business’ will do or when ‘business casual’ is the order of the day takes perception – and that’s a valuable skill to have on your team. You will want your staff and clients to have absolute faith in you and your ability to make good decisions, so a good leader will need to earn respect.   Your clothes can play their part – err on the side of formality or, if the culture in which you work demands a business casual approach, keep it smart and co-ordinated and of good quality. And, of course, your clothes need to match the culture and values of your organisation. For example, in a young, innovative company, you’ll need to be more casual and keep a closer eye on fashion trends. Knowledge of colour will also be valuable to know how to look more authoritative when you need to. This is especially true when selecting business casual items as they are often more colourful and require good co-ordination.  There will also be occasions when you need to project more approachability and subtle changes in the way you wear colour can help achieve this.

Lyn Bromley MFIPI, ACMA –  Managing Director, First Impressions  Lyn Bromley is Managing Director of First Impressions Training Ltd and a Master of The Federation of Image Professionals International. (FIPI)  She is also Director of Regional Events for FIPI and a leader of Achiever’s Academy for Women. Please contact us if you would like to know more about our programmes, bespoke image training or one-to-one coaching.  First Impressions have a network of over 150 consultants working across the UK – to find one in your area visit the website and take a look at the consultant map. Telephone: +44 (0)1926 623038 Email: enquiries@firstimpressions.uk.com Website: www.firstimpressions.uk.com

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Confidence, First Impressions, Leadership, Lyn Bromley, Men in Business, Women in business

Putting Yourself First

oxygen maskYou may have noticed that I didn’t post yesterday and there was good reason for that.  I was adding to my knowledge, mixing with people who ‘juice’ me, to coin a well used phrase from the weekend!  I am one of life’s curious people. I love new experiences and learning new things. It’s what makes me happy and puts a spring in my step!

There is a great metaphor for life if you ever pay attention to the air hosts or hostesses when they do their safely demonstrations.  They advise you to put your own oxygen mask on first. That may be tricky for you to comprehend, especially if you are a giver. But in order to be able to help others, you do need to put your own oxygen mask on first. What good are you to others if you are not able to breathe?!

So that’s, what I was doing this weekend, putting my own oxygen mask on first and filling up my lungs, my head and my heart.

The training was fantastic!  I was learning all about how to become financially free.  In these uncertain times I’m certainly not going to fut my faith into the Government to look after me in my old age, so before I get too old, I’m making sure we are maximising our own finances so that my family and I are secure.  I can’t recommend it highly enough.  I was training with Ann Wilson – The Wealth Chef – she gives such practical advice, delivered with high energy, enthusiasm and love.  If you want to be financially free – I’d definitely check out Ann’s work.  http://thewealthchef.com/ She’s a self-made millionaire and it’s her mission to teach as many people as possible how to be financially free.

Wishing you a fabulous week

Lyn

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Dressing Down, First Impressions, Leadership, Lyn Bromley, Men in Business, Women in business

iStock_000015022319MediumAs it is Friday, I thought I would write about dressing down today!

A few years ago the City, followed by businesses across the country, abandoned the suit and embraced ‘dress down’.  Firstly, it was ‘dress down Fridays’ and then gradually dress down became the norm from Monday through Friday.  But clothes are always cyclical and the suit never really died.  These days, many companies adopt a ‘modern professional’ dress code which expects employees to wear whatever is deemed appropriate for the activities they are involved in each day.  But ‘deemed appropriate’ by whom?  Whilst the really smart ones will know how to get the ‘suited and booted’ look right for external meetings with clients and the ‘business casual’ look spot on for internal meetings, for many it’s a mystifying labyrinth of unwritten rules that leaves them confused and bewildered!

Without proper guidelines and direction, as was common in the past, standards slip and bosses start to feel uncomfortable about an ‘anything goes’ culture.  They may be more tolerant, with smart casual being acceptable in many environments, but they still expect a business-like look.  Whilst most staff can manage to look reasonably professional in their jackets and suits, when it comes to dress down it’s a different matter.  Any employee who wants to go places should know what smart casual (or business casual) should look like.

Dress down allows more individual choice, which is where the problems creep in.  People don’t intentionally disregard policies – what employees wear can be attributed to their own individual style personality, job profile and age and this leads to some amazingly inappropriate choices.  However, companies should be able to trust employees to dress appropriately – it’s all part of being able to do the job properly.  One City firm sent a memo to its employees stating that anyone reporting to work improperly dressed may be instructed by their manager to return home and change their clothes, with further action and possible termination not out of the question!

The fundamental benefit of dress down for staff is that it allows freedom and choice, enabling them to express their individuality.  Comfortable, happy workers should be more productive so in theory employers like dress down too.  However, there are staff at all levels who find all that choice just too much of a good thing.  It was all so easy before but now every occasion requires thought, planning and a different dress code.

Whilst it might seem churlish to single out British men, a quick look around any city business district anywhere in the UK will show that chinos with a crumpled casual shirt is the uniform that many have simply substituted for the suit.  An alternative is the faded logo-emblazoned T-shirt with scruffy combats, denim or corduroys.  And when it comes to shoes – don’t even go there!  British women aren’t guilt-free either – with underwear showing and too much flesh exposed being the most common crimes.

So how should dress down be properly interpreted?  A simple definition of ‘business casual’ is ‘A comfortably relaxed version of classic business attire, with no sacrifice of professionalism or personal power.’.  Propriety, quality and co-ordination are the watch-words of dress down.  Clothes should never be distracting and therefore they should suitably cover you (legs, arms, chests, cleavages, midriffs or any other body part that might otherwise get exposed).  Exposing too much diminishes credibility faster than anything else – you have been warned!

You should also expect to spend as much on your business casual wardrobe as on your formal suiting – the quality of construction, fabric, finish and attention to detail should be no different from that of a formal suit.  It is simply the colour, fabric type and style details that will make a jacket, skirt or pair of trousers look casual rather than formal.  The many and varied versions of cotton, linen, silk and lightweight wool, often mixed with clever new fibre technology, gives you a wide range of fabric choices for business casual clothing.  Clothing structure will also affect how formal or casual a garment looks.  In general, the more tailored or ‘structured’ a garment, the more formal and authoritative it will look.  For business casual looks garments can be more softly structured, for example a soft collar rather than a sharp collar or a softly tailored jacket rather than a sharply tailored jacket.

Co-ordination is also a vital element of business casual, although you can select lighter shades and more colour and pattern than for formal dressing.  Whilst it is hard to get it too wrong with a suit, with business casual you have to THINK about what goes with what!  That means you have to know what suits you, including the colours, styles, proportions and details that will work for your individual colouring and physique.  Your outfit should look so well put together that your clients, customers and colleagues can all get on with the job in hand, instead of being struck dumb by the amazing colour combinations you’ve selected that day.

Another ingredient of more casual dressing is fashion and, whilst in some creative industries it might be vital to look as fashionable as you can afford, in others it will be perceived as shallow and not conducive to the business environment.  It’s more important to ensure you are ‘current’ as this implies that your thinking and ideas will be current too.  Regularly update your wardrobe so that it looks relatively ‘of the moment’ without looking overtly fashionable and that way you’ll attain the right ‘modern classic’ look that works for business casual.

Consistency is also vital with business casual.  You can’t look fantastic one day and like a dog’s dinner the next without ruining your credibility.  You’ve got to look good every day – that way you’ll give consistent messages of your personal ‘brand values’.  Decide in advance how you want to be perceived and then ensure that your business casual look echoes this message.  For example, you can still achieve an authoritative look using colour – simply select the darker shades or clothing combinations with more contrast from your business casual wardrobe in order to create a stronger look.

Whilst for many the advent of dress down throughout the week has meant a whole new wardrobe, it’s best not to view formal and casual as two separate wardrobes.  ‘Modern professional’ has many nuances and you should develop a flexible wardrobe that allows you to slide seamlessly from formal, through relaxed business, to business casual, making minor adjustments to your look to suit your working day and lifestyle along the way.

Think of your wardrobe needs as a sliding scale with formal business at one end and casual at the other.  Just below formal business will come ‘relaxed business’ – a suited or jacketed look that’s not so sharp as ‘formal’.  Below that is ‘business casual’ – still smart and polished but using casual garments and accessories.  These are the three looks you need in the workplace.  Below ‘business casual’ comes ‘casual’ – an entirely different thing!  Casual is denim, trainers, t-shirts, combats, flip-flops, Timberlands, chunky sweaters, fleeces…need I go on?  If it’s in this last category, it shouldn’t be worn for work.  And that’s where all the trouble started…. employees wearing their ‘casual’ clothes to the workplace.

So spend some time shopping for your business casual wardrobe, just as you would for your formal suits.  Learn to enjoy putting different looks together and you’ll feel confident whatever the dress code – the suit may not be dead but there’s no doubt that dress down is here to stay!

Top Tips for Dress Down

  • Aim for more softly structured garments for business casual
  • Go for lighter shades and an increased use of colour
  • Budget to spend as much on your business casual wardrobe as your formal office attire.
  • Avoid distracting clothes and exposing too much flesh
  • Regularly update your wardrobe to keep your clothes ‘current’
  • Aim for consistency to retain your credibility and personal brand values
  • Develop a flexible wardrobe that can adapt to various work scenarios
  • Don’t confuse business casual with ‘casual’ – save fleeces and trainers for the weekend!

Lyn Bromley MFIPI, ACMA –  Managing Director, First Impressions

 Lyn Bromley is Managing Director of First Impressions Training Ltd and a Master of The Federation of Image Professionals International. (FIPI)  She is also Membership Director of FIPI and a leader of Achiever’s Academy for Women.

Please contact us if you would like to know more about our programmes, bespoke image training or one-to-one coaching. 

First Impressions have a network of over 150 consultants working across the UK – to find one in your area visit the website and take a look at the consultant map.

Telephone: +44 (0)1926 623038

Email: enquiries@firstimpressions.uk.com

Website: www.firstimpressions.uk.com

 

Solving the Dress Down Puzzle

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Body Language, Business Etiquette, Confidence, First Impressions, Image consultancy, Leadership, Lyn Bromley, Men in Business, Women in business

Mind Your Manners!

Business Etiquette

Image courtesy of Felixco, Inc. at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What does business etiquette mean to you?  The word etiquette is, of course, a French word and we use it to describe the manners and courtesy that are deemed desirable in both social and business life.  Interestingly, the French don’t use the word etiquette to mean the same thing – they use ‘savoir vivre’ – ‘to know how to live’.  Equally interesting, I think, is that the French use of the word etiquette translates as ‘label’.  Surely nothing ‘labels’ us so effectively in the eyes and minds of our friends, acquaintances and business associates as the way we conduct ourselves – the manners and courtesy we display in our daily lives.

There is no doubt that non-verbal communication plays a very significant role in inter-personal relationships and, as communication experts, we are constantly dealing with the visual aspects including both appearance and body language.  In the last couple of years, however, clients have increasingly asked us to tackle other aspects of behaviour in the workplace, focussing on the many and varied topics that fall within the term ‘business etiquette’.

Popular television shows, both fact and fiction, show just how profoundly powerful this aspect of an individual’s professional conduct can be.  You might remember David Brent of ‘The Office’ committing just about every business etiquette crime there is, or you may have squirmed with discomfort as one of the ‘Dragon’s Den’ supplicants reached the top of the stairs and launched into their ‘pitch’ without a handshake or introduction.  You’ll remember the relief you felt when, at last, one of them actually walked up to the ‘Dragons’, shook hands, made eye contact and introduced themselves in a friendly and assertive way.  The  BBC show is still popular now, so watch how all the non-verbal signals persuade or dissuade the ‘Dragons’ to part with their thousands – or not, as the case may be.  Equally, ‘The Apprentice’ was a fascinating insight into how people conduct themselves and how it affects their success, or lack of it, in the workplace.

Business Etiquette is a vast subject covering everything from dining to e-mails; meetings to greetings; gestures to chewing gum and, to some extent, it’s what we should know anyway.  But in an increasingly casual 21st century Britain, we don’t.  A whole generation is entering the workforce (and moving up through it) with gaps in their knowledge of what constitutes acceptable or appropriate behaviour.  Whilst today’s emphasis on free expression and creativity in an individual’s early years is doubtless a positive thing, this doesn’t have to mean losing sight of the value of respect in human relationships.

The basic rule of etiquette is to show consideration for the other party.  Whether it’s thinking about what’s appropriate to wear to a meeting – the etiquette of appearance – so that you show respect to whoever you’re meeting; conducting yourself properly and positively in a meeting or at a corporate hospitality event; or following simple rules for business e-mails and letters, etiquette is fundamentally about showing respect for others.  If you stop and think how the other person is likely to receive your communication or respond to your behaviour, you will go a long way towards preventing misunderstandings and not giving offence.  You will also go a long way towards building rapport and strong personal relationships.  It’s these personal relationships, within the workplace environment, that are so vital to an individual’s and an organisation’s success.

Most managers are agreed that manners, common courtesy and an understanding of how to ‘do the right thing’ in any situation are all attributes that differentiate great from good when it comes to staff.  As ‘soft skills’ are widely recognised to be more vital to an individual’s personal employability than technical skills these days, companies are increasingly asking First Impressions to include Business Etiquette within a range of topics relating to professional profile development.  If an individual is going to be able to adapt to the ever-changing needs of the workplace as they work their way up the career ladder, it’s even more important that they understand that how they operate – their ‘professional profile’ – plays a key role in building credibility and is a vital part of their career toolkit.

What are the customs and taboos in your workplace?  Are you confident that your etiquette is always spot-on?  Do you sometimes wince when a colleague commits a faux pas at a business lunch or corporate hospitality event?  Business etiquette affects us all.  If your people are your biggest asset, are you confident that their business etiquette will help not hinder your organisation’s success?

Test your Business Etiquette know-how with our quick quiz:

Q1        Where do you put your napkin if you need to leave the dining table during a meal?

Q2        Where do you put your napkin when you leave the table at the end of the meal?

Q3        What are the five most common blunders that office workers admit to when greeting clients and colleagues?

Q4        Should you introduce a colleague to a client or a client to a colleague?

Q5        Is it appropriate to use your laptop, mobile or palm pilot at the table at a business lunch?

Q6        Can you toast yourself?  Is it acceptable to raise your glass and drink when you are the one being toasted?

Quiz Answers:

A1        On the back of your chair

A2        On the table

A3        The continental kiss; the bone crusher handshake; offering a handshake when the other person offers a cheek; misjudging a kiss and almost giving a smacker on the lips!; giving an overenthusiastic bear hug

A4        Always introduce a colleague to a client, regardless of the colleague’s age or rank – i.e. deference should be shown to the client.

A5        No – and nor should you spread papers out over the table at a business lunch.  It may be a business lunch but the basic rules of dining etiquette still apply.

A6        No – you can raise your glass to acknowledge a toast to you but you should not drink when you are the one being toasted.

 

Business Etiquette Top Tips

  • Practice what you preach

 

It’s easy to know what to do but much harder to do it.  Aim to avoid just paying lip service to business etiquette and ensure you do actually behave as you would like others to.  Remember that you’re a role model for other colleagues as well.

  • Listen, watch and learn

 

Think about times when you have experienced rudeness – you’ve been ignored at a corporate event; someone has kept you hanging on the phone for ages or you haven’t been introduced properly to someone.  Learn from your own mistakes and from others and think what you – or they – could have done differently that would have improved the experience.

  • Show respect

 

Respect others’ time – avoid interrupting your colleagues’ meetings, discussions and phone calls if at all possible but if it is unavoidable always apologise and make your point quickly so others can get back to their work.

  • Treat everyone with the same courtesy

Don’t differentiate people by their job role or position within the company but treat everyone with the same courtesy and politeness.  Treating everyone with the same courtesy will earn you respect and improve your credibility within an organisation.

  • Show appreciation

Be keen to pass on praise and compliments to your team and colleagues and everyone who made a contribution to a project or event.

  • Be honest

You will earn respect for delivering work on time and giving realistic deadlines.   You will get a reputation for unreliability for over-promising impossible schedules.

  • Avoid unintentional rudeness

 

Ignoring phone calls or neglecting to reply to correspondence or emails is just as bad as face-to-face rudeness.  Abruptness or an off-hand manner can cause offence in business environment and, even if you’re really busy, aim to deal with others politely and with courtesy.

  • Build good working relationships

 

The ability to get on with different types of people is an essential business skill.  Being able to develop good working relationships with your business associates and fellow team members will help you stand out in your organisation.

  • Working Internationally

Learn as much as possible about how business is conducted abroad.  Try and learn some elements of the language and basis courtesies if possible and familiarise yourself with the customs of the country you are visiting.

  • Differentiate yourself

Remember that good professional business etiquette helps build leadership skills, shows commitment to your company and helps differentiate you in a competitive environment.

First Impressions run a series of open Business Etiquette courses, for anyone who would like to learn more about this vital subject.  Courses are held at the First Impressions Training Centre in Warwick.  For more information, telephone 01926 623038 or e-mail enquiries@firstimpressions.uk.com.

Lyn Bromley MFIPI, ACMA –  Managing Director, First Impressions

 Lyn Bromley is Managing Director of First Impressions Training Ltd and a Master of The Federation of Image Professionals International. (FIPI)  She is also Membership Director of FIPI and a leader of Achiever’s Academy for Women.

Please contact us if you would like to know more about our programmes, bespoke image training or one-to-one coaching. 

First Impressions have a network of over 150 consultants working across the UK – to find one in your area visit the website and take a look at the consultant map.

Telephone: +44 (0)1926 623038

Email: enquiries@firstimpressions.uk.com

Website: www.firstimpressions.uk.com

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Authentic, Authenticity, Confidence, First Impressions, Image consultancy, Leadership, Lyn Bromley, Men in Business, Women in business

Are you being authentic?

AuthenticAuthentic is a word that is bandied around frequently, but do we understand what it really means to be authentic?

I am often challenged when I tell people about what I do.  ‘Isn’t personal branding a way of making us all look the same?’ or ‘Isn’t it shallow thinking about how we look?’  They are just some of the many questions I receive from the uneducated.  I say uneducated, not to offend, but merely to point out that is not what I do at all and if you stick with me, I shall share my thoughts on what authenticity really is and how I help clients to become authentic leaders.

My belief is that we are all unique.  Why would we want to try to be like someone else?  You are certainly the best placed to be you after all, nobody can do a better job.  What I assist people to do is to find out who they really are and how they might want to represent themselves to the outside world in an authentic way that feels right for them.  We all have a personal brand whether we like it or not, so much better for it to be one we want to communicate, rather than one that happens by accident!

It is such a visual world that we do make decisions about people all the time.  We have to, it’s part of our survival strategy.  Although life has evolved since caveman days, our instincts for our ‘flight or fight’ response is still there.  So although, in the Western World,  we don’t necessarily need to make decisions on whether someone is a  threat to us or not, (not often anyway!) we still use that same strategy to decide whether we are going to get on with someone or not.  Are they like us?  Do we like the same things?  Will be be friends? Can we work well together?

If we didn’t do this our brain would most likely go into overdrive!  Have you ever considered just how much information we come into contact with on a daily basis?  Most of it of course happens unconsciously.  As you sit reading this right now, your eyes are focusing, you are breathing, you are blinking, the blood is pumping round your body – now I don’t suppose you were consciously aware of that happening until I pointed it out, but it happens nonetheless and our brains have to tell it to happen.  In fact, we come into contact with around 2,000,000 bits of information every second!  The brain can only cope with between 5-9 bits of information consciously at any one time (unless you are Einstein)!  Therefore, our brains are constantly deleting, distorting and generalising information to help us to make sense of it.

This is the reason we make an incredibly quick analysis of people when we meet them, it is so that we can pop them into the filing cabinet of our mind and know how to deal with them. So what does that mean for authenticity?  Well, for me, it’s about being true to yourself, it’s about being real, it’s sometimes about being vulnerable and honest, which in the world of business may seem a little strange, but actually, when we show our human side, we make much better connections with people.  It’s exhausting trying to be someone else and not something you can keep up full time.  Once people realise that you are not being genuine it can really damage your personal brand.

So if you were being authentic today, what would that be like for you?  What would it look like?  What would it sound like?  What would it feel like?  Do you feel that you can be authentic, or do you think you should be like someone else?  In this world of ‘fakery’ it’s a tough call, but one definitely worth considering.

I’d love to receive your feedback, please drop me a comment in the box below, or on Facebook, Twitter, Linked in, or anywhere else you care to be reading this!

Wishing you a great day,

Lyn

Lyn Bromley MFIPI, ACMA –  Managing Director, First Impressions

 Lyn Bromley is Managing Director of First Impressions Training Ltd and a Master of The Federation of Image Professionals International. (FIPI)  She is also Membership Director of FIPI and a leader of Achiever’s Academy for Women.

Please contact us if you would like to know more about our programmes, bespoke image training or one-to-one coaching. 

First Impressions have a network of over 150 consultants working across the UK – to find one in your area visit the website and take a look at the consultant map.

Telephone: +44 (0)1926 623038

Email: enquiries@firstimpressions.uk.com

Website: www.firstimpressions.uk.com

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Body Language, First Impressions, Leadership, Lyn Bromley

What ARE you saying?

Image courtesy of smarnad at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It’s no secret that people fascinate me!  Right from being very young I have always been interested in how people communicate.  The largest part of our communication, 93% to be precise, is nothing to do with the words we use.  It’s all about how we say them and the body language that goes with it.

Most of us are aware of this fact, but generally in our workshops people are surprised that the percentage is so high.  I’m always astonished that people think folding your arms is being defensive – remember it’s ‘body language’, not just one word or phrase.  Looking for other clues in the person’s demeanour will give you better information.  For example, if someone has their arms crossed, but are smiling at the same time, it is likely that they are just comfortable with their arms folded and are not being defensive at all.  Whereas if someone has their arms crossed and are frowning, it is more likely that they are being defensive after all!

It’s important to note though, that the saying ‘a little knowledge is a dangerous thing’, as so many people attending our workshops do rate someone with folded arms and a smile as being defensive.  If you want to be sure that people are not taking away a negative impression of your body language, it’s safer to keep an open stance with un-crossed arms.

The other key behaviours that portray positive body language are smiling, eye contact, good posture, open stance and a good handshake – this is one of my personal soap box rant moments, so I’ll post about that in detail another day!!

Wishing you a fabulous Saturday and I invite you to observe people’s body langauge around you today to see what you spot!  I’m in Starbucks at the moment having a coffee and writing my blog while my daughter is at dance class and Hubby is being the dutiful son and doing some DIY for his Mum.  Looking at the people around me there is lots of great body language going on; lots of active listening, intense gazing, flirting, scowling, arms crossed, bored looking – oops nearly got caught out watching – you have to be careful of that too!

Have fun observing,

Lyn

Lyn Bromley MFIPI, ACMA –  Managing Director, First Impressions

 Lyn Bromley is Managing Director of First Impressions Training Ltd and a Master of The Federation of Image Professionals International. (FIPI)  She is also Membership Director of FIPI and a leader of Achiever’s Academy for Women.

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