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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