Do your behaviours, habits and clothes enhance your professional image? Or are you inadvertently undermining your credibility because of what you do, wear or say?
As much as we might hate it, if we want to be considered professional and be taken seriously, we need to look, sound and act the part.
Our PM is often criticised for her dowdy dress style. While most would agree that the focus should be on what she says rather than how she looks, it’s clear that her style distracts enough people for it to be an issue, and is worthy of attention. Personally I would recommend that the PM find a stylist, change her wardrobe and do whatever she can to avoid the distraction.
There are many ways to distract our colleagues, executives and clients. These include:
* doodling in meetings
* chewing gum
* staring out the window
* being consistently late
* yawning loudly
* frequently sharing how tired/stressed/over-worked we feel
* checking our blackberry or writing emails during meetings
* taking calls or allowing our phone to vibrate noisily during meetings.
Women and men are equally prone to habits that not only dilute our impact, presence and professionalism but create the impression that we’re not engaged, interested, competent, professional or reliable.
The consequence, unfortunately, is generally worse for women, because we’re held to higher standards and our commitment, reliability and competence are often in doubt – especially if we have kids.
It can be difficult enough to assert our authority but we can choose how we look and what we do. So why not, practice the behaviours and wear the clothes that will support the image you want to cultivate.