10 Ways to Be Taken Seriously at Work

When you think of the term "executive," what comes to mind? Most likely, words such as successful, professional, hardworking, composed, smart, admired and well-spoken pop into your head.

Want your co-workers to associate those same terms with you? Then follow these tips for being taken seriously at work.

1. Dress professionally.

Though we've all been raised on sayings such as, "Don't judge a book by its cover," in the professional world, presentation counts. There is a certain level of expectation when it comes to dress in the workplace. We expect to see executives in business attire, and consequently, we associate those who wear business attire with positions of power. So if you want to be taken seriously at work, start dressing like it.

Frances Cole Jones, author of 'The Wow Factor: The 33 Things You Must (and Must Not) Do to Guarantee Your Edge in Today's Business World,' says the dressing professionally rule applies on Fridays, too. "If the C-suite level is not dressing down on Fridays, I recommend you follow their lead and remain in professional dress on Fridays," she says.

2. Choose appropriate hairstyles.

For women, Jones says, "Having your hair hanging in your face will always make you look younger [and] less authoritative than you are." Pulling hair back or putting it up will help you to look more professional. For men, this means keeping hair short and neat by getting a regular haircut.

3. Take note of what management has to say.

"Writing down what others say in meetings is a fast way to create camaraderie with senior staff," Jones says. "This works the same way as watching your waiter write down your order -- it helps the speaker to relax because they've seen you physically acknowledge the point they were making."

4. Know what you're talking about.

Or at least sound like you do. Listen to yourself talk. Do say "like" or "um" after every three words? Do you raise your voice at the end of sentences, so it sounds like you're asking a question when you're really making a statement? Do you speak too softly or quickly?

All of these will undermine the authority of the message you are trying to communicate. Practice projecting your voice, keeping an even tone and speaking slowly enough so that you're understood.

5. Avoid being the office clown / flirt / sportscaster, etc.

"Despite sitcoms like 'The Office,' places of business are not places of entertainment," Jones says.

"Although the clown or the flirt will generate humor [or] controversy, neither will ever be first in line for promotion. In fact, they're likely to be first in line should people need to be laid off."

Though it's always great to have friends at the office, remember that the No. 1 reason you're there is because you have a job to do.

6. Don't air your dirty laundry.

Is your credit card past due? Did you just break up with your boyfriend? While it's fine to confide in a close work friend when you're having personal difficulties, don't have a full-blown conversation about your personal life in the middle of your office.

Same goes for seemingly private spaces in your office, Jones says. "Don't conduct personal conversations in the elevator or the bathrooms. They are not private spaces -- even if you don't have a direct connection to anyone present."

7. Don't turn your desk into your bedroom.

No matter how long you've been at your job or how much stuff seems to keep piling up on your desk, do your best to keep it organized. A messy workspace conveys a message of immaturity. Plus it will be hard for your boss to take your seriously if she comes over to your desk to ask for a file and you have to dig through piles of lunch napkins and year-old spreadsheets to find it.

Additionally, says Jones, "Don't keep overtly personal items in your desk area. A framed photo is fine. A birthday card that says, 'Yo Dawg!' is not."

8. Mind your social media manners.

Nowadays, your professional reputation isn't only based on what you do at work. It's also shaped by how you appear on the Internet. So if you have pictures of your wild bachelor party displayed for all to see on your Facebook page, it's time to take them down, change your privacy settings or make it a personal rule to not accept friend requests from colleagues.

Additionally, adds Jones, "Don't ever, ever, ever write anything derogatory about your boss, the company or your colleagues on your social media pages. If you don't think others are looking at these, you're mistaken."

9. Chat up the chief executive.

If you're an employee at a larger company, you probably don't interact with your CEO on a daily basis. Take advantage of any time you get to make an impression on your company's top dog.

"Speak up when you see your CEO in the elevator. You don't need to get into detail, but saying 'Good morning,' will make you stand out," Jones says.

10. Go the extra mile.

Show that you're serious about your career by volunteering to lead department projects and getting involved with company fundraisers and volunteer activities.

"Upper-level management definitely notices who contributes during non-business hours," Jones says.

Next: 10 Things You Should Never Do at Work >>

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John F.C. Taylor

My attention is focused on the messy desk. It seems that there was no distinction made between the desk that stays messy and the desk that gets that way during a day of heavy work. Sometimes the mess just gets there, but the key is clearing the mess instead of letting it sit there. If you take the time to clean up, it's always going to reflect well. If you leave it messy, the bosses may believe you can't do the job.

September 22 2010 at 6:26 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It is a sad thing that in todays world I am still hearing people like Mike make comments about a womans body holding influence in the work place. I have to wonder where on earth this guy works.

September 22 2010 at 5:58 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

A big help in retaining employment is a big pair of tits and a slim waist. Happens all the time....

September 22 2010 at 4:33 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to publicx's comment

How nice of you to say...would you be making that observation from the employer or the employee angle? Guess I'll get back on that diet.....What an ass..

September 22 2010 at 5:55 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

well i work third shift in a nursing home therefore i avoid the fashion show so to speakk while i think appearences can be importaint i think its more importaint to get your work done because nice clothes and neat hair arent going to get your job done for you hard work thats what i say

September 22 2010 at 3:34 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This article sounds like a perfect guide to becoming a corporate clone with no imagination and creativity.

I'm glad I don't have to climb the corporate ladder and brown nose my way to success.

I run a company making DJ Products and my customers call me "El Dawg" so frankly I don't need people to think I just walked out of a Republican convention to be successful.

September 22 2010 at 1:30 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This is such an old fashioned way of thinking. There have been huge changes in the way many executives think. As a female writer, she really surprised me with her comment about a woman's hair. Pulling it back into a tight bun like that does not make anyone take you more seriously, it may make them think wow, she must have been running late and didn't have time to do anything, or wow is she uptight..whatever. Doesn't work like that anymore. To reporter: suggested reading: Fun Works: Creating Places Where People Love to Work

September 22 2010 at 12:56 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Profguy's comment

I thought this was the 21st Century? Not sure hair style wins over performance?

September 22 2010 at 1:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

However, if you're new, have a sloppy desk, need help AND have pink, blue and green hair, when the muckety-mucks start crossing names off the lists, the person with the pink and blue hair is a goner. (Provided they got in in the first place.) If one is working for a conservative company, one should blend in with others who are successful, not stand out because of too many different issues.

September 22 2010 at 3:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This is the biggest load of bullshit ever. A friend of mine has her own office, and her desk can get REALLY messy. But guess what? She's ONE of two people who actually stays after hours and helps out with all the stuff that no one else had time to get done. She will drop what she's doing to help out her co-workers. She's one of the NICEST most professional women you will ever meet. If you want something done, you talk to her. Oh, and did I mention she now runs the office she works in? After only 3 years?

September 22 2010 at 12:12 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

YADA YADA, Become valuable to the firm you work for.. Bottom line is they don't care what your hair looks like or the cloths you have on.. Make money save money
come up with unique ideas that work.. Don't gripe about things unless you have a plan to correct the thing you are griping about.. I am very successful in what I do and the one key to success in any job/profession is to become a asset to the firm your with..

September 21 2010 at 9:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Carl's comment

Carl, we must have been seperated at birth, cause I totally agree. Something that has been frequently said about me from former employers,"when you left we had to hire 3 people to do your job". I work my ass off when I work for a company and make myself valuable. I always had great reviews and always got a raise in pay. I did not waste office time with gossip, complaining, personal calls, surfing the internet, or too many personal days off. I never worried about losing my job or being fired because I was making money for my employer. I always came in early and always kept a positive attitude and remembered to smile, smile smile! If you are pleasant to be around, people are drawn to you, and that adds up in more sales for the company. One of my favorite sayings is, "be an asset, not an asshole!"

September 21 2010 at 10:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

You forgot the most important one. The person who brown noses the supervisor the most is the last one to be firred no matter how imcompetent the employee is.
You csn do all those things plus work your butt off at work and on what should be your time off, but when it comes to firing emplees, the one who kowtows the least is the first to go.

September 21 2010 at 8:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Susan's comment
Gina Mae

Not neccessarily. When push came to shove, a couple brown-nosers got the axe at my company, along with some others. Why? One relied more on his talks with the boss than doing actual work. The other one would use phony excuses about needing help with a project to get dirt about other people, so she was seen as unable to complete a job without help, when others could get their parts done and then some without help. She actually told the boss that I wasn't a team player because after the first few times she came to me "needing help" I refused to "help" her. During my performance review it was brought up and I had a hard time setting the record straight without looking like I was trying to blame her. Brown-nosing can work both ways it seems to me.

September 21 2010 at 9:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


September 21 2010 at 8:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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