Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Triple A Image: Be Aware, Be Authentic, Be Appropriate (Part 3)

This is the final post in a series that I hope has been able to help you consider how your image might be impacting your success, and your fulfillment on the job and in life. The posts are condensed excerpts from a presentation I delivered for a group of business professionals. Many wrote or phoned me afterward to say they had heeded my advice, and were seeing a positive difference in the way they conducted themselves and were perceived by others. If you'd like to catch up, this series began with the post "He Said WHAT?" and was followed by "Triple A Image: Be Aware, Be Authentic, Be Appropriate" Steps 1 and 2. Today's Topic and
Step 3: 
Be Appropriate. Apply this to all aspects of your professional life. And, frankly, to your personal life. Let's start at my favorite place... your ABC's. And, pay close attention to the social networking advice near the end of the post!

Appearance:  Dress appropriately for the situation. If you believe there’s a chance that ‘situation’ may change during the day, keep an extra set of clothes in the car. Took me one time to learn that lesson. I was a news anchor on duty in Pensacola. There was an emergency call and I went straight from the anchor desk, INTO the waters of Pensacola Beach, where I recorded for posterity (and WKRG News Center 5) the efforts of about 50 swimmers and surfers  to help free a beached whale shark. 

Pantyhose and an a-line dress.  Great in the studio. In the surf.. not so much.

From that point on, I always carried a second set of ‘less stuffy’ clothing with me. If you have a profession where the situation, and location, might quickly change (realtor, sales) you mght consider doing the same. Don't wear your after-5- or weekend- clothes to work. It sends out signals that you are to be  taken less seriously on the job. Who wants that? In addition, know when it’s appropriate to dress down or dress up. And with business casual- remember, the emphasis on 'business', not on 'casual.'

Keep it on the up and up. There's a longer list, but for this post's purposes: political rants, sour puss attitudes, flirting, salty language, and dirty jokes have no place in the workplace and in most social settings, for that matter. What (or who) you laugh at says volumes about your character. So do the words you choose to say. An acquaintance recently recounted how her supervisor (on my friend's first day on the job) dropped about a dozen expletives in the morning staff meeting. She immediately lost respect for him and that colored their professional relationship from that point. Watch your manners. Others are watching them.

When you are having a face to face conversation, be polite. Look the person in the eye. That says that you value this interaction with them.Talk TO them, not AT them, or worse yet-- down to them. On the phone, keep a pleasant tone in your voice. Don't open the mail, eat a sandwich, or even read this blog while you are on the phone. Your indifference will show in your voice and you risk offending the person on the other end of the line.  Email: Watch your tone. DO NOT TYPE IN ALL CAPS. IT SEEMS AS IF YOU ARE SHOUTING! Do not write emails when you are angry, upset or distracted. Once you hit "send", it's impossible to retrieve words you wish had never been written. And finally, I cannot address the area of “appropriateness” without touching on social networking.  Be very careful what you post on your Facebook and Twitter pages, and on your blogs. Remember, this is not just an intimate little gathering of friends reading about your latest escapade, bad date, or bad mood. Your post might be read by someone who, before your little revelation, was considering hiring you-- or promoting you. Weigh every word. Put into your mind your boss, your most important client.. or the person you would most like to have as your boss or client. Picture your mother.. or your pastor.. reading it. Then decide-- is this really appropriate?
Here are some actual FB posts I’ve been collecting for about a year. No names. But check out their professions. Would YOU want to work with, or hire. them?

"People just try to mess everything up. People are crazy." ~ A county commssioner
"Supplements make me gag." ~ A nutritionist
"So-and-so defendant (I've purposely withheld the name) is a disgrace to the human race." ~ A journalist in the middle of covering this person's trial. How's that for non-biased reporting?
"My feelings are so hurt. Oh, well. I guess I just have to deal. Why is life so hard?" ~You ready for this one? A MOTIVATIONAL SPEAKER. Really?

As I wrote in the first article on this topic, "He Said WHAT?", learning to project a confident, polished, trustworthy image by matching what's on the inside with what we project on the outside is a process. I look for ways to improve every day. But, if you use these short tips--Be Aware, Be Authentic and Be Appropriate--and if you concentrate on your ABC's--you will be well on your way to helping the world see the very best that is inside of you. Remember---
“It is never too late to be what you might have been.” ~George Eliot


  1. Thanks Drexel! I enjoyed reading these "Image" posts! Shared with friends!!

  2. LOL! I'm picturing you in the Gulf in your skirt and pantyhose... hilarious. :D Oh, man, and I'm with you on the FB status updates, although to be honest, I've gotten to where people post such outrageous stuff, I'm pretty generous with my judgment. Everyone is NOT like that, however, so this is very good advice here. Thanks, Drex! :o) <3