We are all guilty of displaying improper and off-putting body language at some point in our careers. Whether avoiding eye contact during an interview, or impatiently tapping our fingers on the table during a management meeting, our nonverbal communication conveys a distinct impression – no matter your intended message.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I am guilty of the crossed arms. When engrossed in a conversation, it is an automatic response that says I am in deep thought and listening; however, according to the article, my body language suggests that I’m hoping my co-worker leaves me alone and goes on his merry way.
The good news is that my nonverbal communication does not channel Kanye West, the article’s poster child for forgetting to smile.
It’s always a good thing to do a mental and visual check-in to ensure we convey the true meaning of our intentions. Think I hear a New Year’s resolution calling…
What’s your nonverbal no-no? Leave us a reply below.
Originally published in 1997, with a healthy update from Brookhiser in 2003, Rules of Civility pre-empted the onslaught of reality television, and stories of soccer moms behaving badly on the field. This book takes a refreshing look at sage advice President George Washington followed, notions he learned as a child in the 1700s.
While a few rules appear outdated (rule #9 – spit not into the fire, nor stoop low before it), the majority of ways to conduct oneself are practical, especially when it comes to governing ourselves in business. More than a primer on etiquette, Rules of Civility focuses on the motivation beyond the action. For example, rule #23 admonishes that “when you see a crime punished, you may be inwardly pleased, but always show pity to the suffering offender.” The motivation is to treat others the way you would want to be treated.
Here are the top five career-related rules:
1. Rule #12: Shake not your head, feet, or legs, roll not the eyes, lift not one eyebrow higher than the other, wry not the mouth, and bedew no man’s face with your spittle by approaching too near him when you speak.
These are a few non-verbal communication deal breakers that job seekers interviewing for a position, and entrepreneurs meeting with potential clients and investors, should avoid.
2. Rule #15: Keep your nails clean and short, also your hands and teeth clean, yet without showing any great concern for them.
Be neat, tidy, and professionally garbed when you interview for a job, or go to work everyday; however, take care not to overly emphasize your appearance, for it can make you appear conceited and superficial.
3. Rule #35: Let your discourse with men of business be short and comprehensive.
Brevity, when speaking with business leaders – men and women – is always a plus. We can all do without listening to a monopolized company meeting, whether it’s the supervisor or employee.
4. Rule #40: Strive not with your superiors in argument, but always submit your judgment to others with modesty.
The boss – or customer – is always right. Also, do not be heavy handed with your judgment, so as not to embarrass your co-workers or become the office know-it-all.
5. Rule #82: Undertake not what you cannot perform but be careful to keep your promise.
As the adage says, under-promise and over-deliver. Enough said.
Which of these rules hit home the most for you? Let us know in the comment section below.
NOTE: This updated post first appeared on the original Ask The Strategist website on August 6, 2011.
DISCLAIMER: ASK THE STRATEGIST is a blog that highlights information on business, entrepreneurship, careers and the workplace, health, community, and women. Any content or advice dispensed through Ask The Strategist is solely for informational and entertainment purposes. Never miss ASK THE STRATEGIST blog posts! Have them delivered to your inbox by subscribing. All content, unless otherwise noted, is the property of Ask the Strategist and its affiliates, and may not be re-published without express written permission from the Editor.
Mrs. Carter has shown us how innovation – approaching situations, projects, and challenges with a fresh eye and a bit of creativity – can help unleash ideas that, if they are good ones implemented at the right time, can propel businesses and brands to the next level of success, or awareness.
Being stagnant is no fun for those in charge of running a business. Ideas don’t flow, and frustration ensues. What we can learn from Beyoncé in her evolutionary approach to her career is that innovation never goes stale, no matter how established you are in your industry.
Know and Respect Your Brand
If you followed comments in the Twitterverse about Beyoncé’s CD release, many people – including her colleagues in entertainment – opined that she is the only established artist who could take such a nontraditional, yet aggressive, risk and succeed.
A huge part of the decision to use iTunes as the conduit for her new music, I assume, was greatly influenced by Beyoncé knowing and respecting her own brand. When you know that your product or service is one that appeals to your target audience, and your brand is appealing to your followers, customers, or constituency, it gives you latitude to explore creative ways to share new products or services. As the adage goes, confidence is key. If you are confident about your brand, others will often take you seriously, even if your company is relatively unknown.
Risk Can Be Gratifying
Most of us are averse to extreme risk in growing or expanding business opportunities, or in some cases, decrease or redefine products or services offered. Taking a risk, after all, can mean lost revenue, staff reduction, or unfavorable feedback from customers or strategic alliances. As in financial investment, a certain level of risk is a necessary element in eventually reaping a big reward.
Even for an established artist like Beyoncé, a surprise CD release in a unique format was a very risky move, but she has proven that taking chances, research, preparation, and a stellar work ethic combined are the hallmarks of a successful entrepreneur. Whether or not the end result is a roaring success, such as getting your product in a store that typically wouldn’t carry it, or launching a social media campaign that nets thousands of loyal customers, risk can help reduce the fear that keeps business owners and company decision-makers from evolving.
Plus, taking a risk and assessing its impact can be helpful in determining if timing, resources, or staffing influenced the outcome. Then, use that data to retool the risk and try again, hopefully, with more success if it doesn’t go according to plan the first time.
Don’t Be Consumed By Public Opinion
In an age where people can berate you on social media, it takes a tough person to ignore the comments, harsh criticism, and opinions and get on with it. Without uttering a word, Beyoncé has let the recording industry and the world know that she is not consumed by what critics, or even her own record label, think of her music, and ultimately, the songstress’ strategy for how she wanted to distribute her music.
Great ideas or novel concepts aren’t always understood or appreciated, even though our guts, research, or soft promotions have told us otherwise. Hearing objections to our ideas, or being criticized because the time isn’t right, people don’t get the concept, or the idea has never been done before by the company, can influence our courage to boldly make the move anyway.
Feedback is essential from customers, strategic alliances, and collaborators; however, if harsh criticism is the sole consideration in deciding whether or not to move forward with an idea, you may need to ignore the contrarians and implement it anyway. Who knows? It could be the next Facebook, Amazon.com, or Trader Joe’s.
Keep Your Mouth Shut
I can only imagine how hard it was for Beyoncé to keep this historic entertainment move a secret. Confidentiality agreements aside, this is probably my favorite lesson from the songstress.
How many entrepreneurs have had ideas hijacked by people because they talked too much about their plans before all of the details were in place and established in a way that no other person could lay claim to the concept?
While Beyoncé may not have worried about competition as the primary reason for keeping mum about the visual concept CD, great ideas implemented at the right time can mean a financial bonanza, or priceless media coverage. She will undoubtedly enjoy both as the momentum continues.
I am sure that other entertainers are taking notes and learning from Beyoncé’s innovative and creative approach to her career, which may influence how digital music as a primary CD release platform is used in the future. Ultimately, Beyoncé’s fearless – and lucrative – move is a lesson for all business owners to take notice of and create their own unique ways of promoting their brand, services, and products.
DISCLAIMER: ASK THE STRATEGIST is a blog that highlights information on business, entrepreneurship, careers and the workplace, health, community, and women. Any content or advice dispensed through Ask The Strategist is solely for informational and entertainment purposes. Never miss ASK THE STRATEGIST blog posts! Have them delivered to your inbox by subscribing.