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Why you are not making a good first impression at work

Thursday, August 27, 2015

We have all heard the saying “that you need to dress for success” or that you should be “dressing for the role you want, not the one you have”.

In today’s fast moving corporate environment you may only have a few seconds to make that first impression and what you wear will definitely play a part in making that first impression a positive one.

But what you wear to work is only part of the equation when it comes to creating that perfect first impression.

Those who have worked on building a personal sense of style are often a lot more comfortable and confidence in their appearance and will be much more likely to make that killer first impression than those who are relaying on just a new suit or expensive shoes.

As a species we still rely heavily on non verbal gestures to interact with each other and most of what is said in a meeting is done through posture, body language and eye contact and not the meaning or the amount of words spoken.

The importance of mastering your personal sense of style in all areas of life can not be understated when it comes to improving the way you work and your potential career success.

So let’s start by looking at the "personal style" habits of successful executives and point out some of the areas you may want to improve on in your own professional life.

1. It’s both what you wear and how you wear it

There is something called “classic style” which is not based on a current fashion trend or a particular look, It’s a level of quality and attention to detail mixed with an understated sense of elegance that can be found in individual items of clothing, hairstyles or one off accessories.

I personally believe that everyone has their own sense of classic or timeless style and we only have to look to our world leaders for some pointers on how to maintain a classic sense of style while not looking over dressed or as if we are trying to hard to stand out.

So keep it simple and don't over play any one item of clothing or style feature, use rich dark colours mixed with whites and blues that scream quality while giving you presence in the room. For the men please keep the tie, shirt, jacket and shoes in a solid palette range, just like painting your living room. The affect of using only three complementary colours makes all the difference.

2. Take care of the details daily

Those who take care of the little things that will always feel more confident and more comfortable in the way they appear. So shine your shoes, wear cufflinks and understated quality jewelry even when you don't have a big meeting on that day.

Make it a habit, to always be conscious of not only what you wear but how you wear it and you will find that your body language changes and your colleagues may start to treat you differently.

3. Posture is priceless

Now we all have the habit of relaxing in our own environment and I am also guilty of appearing far too relaxed in when attending an important meeting if it’s in our own office space. But the importance of maintaining the right and appropriate posture can make all the difference.

You don't need to be uptight and straight as a rod, simply be conscious of how your posture affects the room and the people you are engaging with.


4. Manners maketh the man

In this day and age it can be hard to know what is expected of both men and women when it comes to good manners, but here’s a simple a rule I try to live by.

Regardless of the gender or status of the people you are with, your role in life is to be a host and protector, in other words where possible good manners means putting others before oneself.

Now not every situation will allow for this, but the next time you are about to interrupt someone in a meeting or eat that sandwich before anyone else gets to, it think to yourself am I putting their needs ahead of mine?

Good manners may not actually maketh the man, but they will make for a more stylish first impression.

5. Practice the art of speaking

Regardless of what you do for a living or what your career goals are, knowing how to speak well and with the right tone of voice is an essential part of creating a great first impression.

The art of speaking does not mean getting up in front of an audience or learning how to speak loudly. It’s about portraying a level of confidence in what you say and how this impresses upon those you are talking too.

You can take speaking courses or you could simply listen to those who speak for a living on YouTube and copy the speech pattens, pace and use of tone.

6. It’s been nice to Smell you

We have all been late for work and rushed out the door without a shower, hoping the deodorant covers a multitude of last night sins and some of us might just not be aware that we have a natural body odder issue that needs some further attention.

Having the best suit or most stylish clothes will mean little if the person you are talking to is more keen to take a step back than a step forward. So checking your breath, asking a friend if you smell on a daily basis (honestly) and investing some time in a ritual cleaning and fragrance session can be a great start.

The most important part of reducing natural body odder is deciding what and when to eat and when to exercise. The body is really just a machine that will produce whatever odder the food and activities of the past few weeks dictates, so if you think you are someone who sweats a lot in meetings then maybe staying off the curry and hamburgers a few days prior to that client pitch is a good idea.

So when it comes down to it your own personal sense of style will not develop overnight and it won't just come down to the clothes you chose to wear.

Choosing to live a life that includes a classic sense of style can be life and career changing experience only if you are prepared to do what it takes each day to build a level of confidence, comfort and casualness in how you are, what you wear and how you wear it.

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