Photo: Seth Sawyers
Though most people would never believe it, I was a painfully shy child. But after many years of finding myself in situations well outside of my comfort zone (thanks for the dance lessons, mum!), I can now say that I am a big fan of the mantra “fake it until you make it.”Of course, you should use judgment about when and where to apply this advice (for example, not while learning to perform surgery)—but used well, it can have a tremendous impact.
Our lives are, to a large degree, what we make of them. If we believe we are knowledgeable and capable, we’ll project that image of confidence to others. It’ll have a positive impact on the people we interact with, both in and out of the workplace. And it’s easier than you think.
Here are three tips for projecting poise and professionalism, even if you haven’t “made it“…yet.
1. Have a vision.
It’s always a smart idea to have a vision in mind for your career. Whether you’re a new graduate or a seasoned professional, the same basic principles apply. Think of who you want to become, and look at someone you admire. Make a list of the mannerisms and body language that person uses, jotting down key words you would use to describe their general persona. This will help you to focus on a few key personality traits you wish to embody, and give you tangible steps to get there. Carry that list around with you and periodically remind yourself of the principles you want to reflect.
2. Act—and dress—the part.
If you want to be perceived a certain way, you have to dress the part. While it may seem superficial, outward appearances can absolutely impact public perception. For example, if you work in the fashion industry and don’t make an effort to incorporate current styles into your wardrobe, you’ll give the impression you aren’t truly passionate about your career. For a junior associate at a law firm, if you don’t show up in formal business attire, the same conclusion will be drawn. Emulate the style and poise of successful women in your field. It’ll send the message that you have your sights set on the top.
The words and body language you choose also matter. It seems simple, but standing up straight, looking people directly in the eye, and shaking hands firmly goes a long way towards projecting confidence. Incorporate definitive “action” verbs in your vocabulary, avoid words and tones of voice that invoke uncertainty, and don’t frame your assertions as questions.
3. Believe in yourself.
The bottom line is that no amount of experience or education will ever fully prepare you for life, and your career journey will be filled with trial and error. But if you don’t have confidence and believe in yourself from the start, how can you expect anyone else to? You’ll of course need to do your part: get an education, gain experience, and make the right career choices. But, if you’ve done those things, you’re on the path to success. Remember, at one time, even the most powerful women in the world had to start somewhere!
Written by Cheryl Rhody. Republished from Pretty Young Professional.
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