Vincy Workplace
July 9, 2010
What messages are you sending? Part 1

Carnival is over and for the next few weeks some people may have to do some damage control on their reputation. Did you do things this Carnival that may have jeopardized your career or the way others think of you?{{more)) If you did, I wanted to share this article written by Sylvia Hepler, an executive coah and business owner (, on what you may need to do in order boost your image at work. Enjoy the article and come back next week for part 2 of this article.

Do you have a sense of how other people view you when they first meet you? Do you really know what others in your professional world think of you, even after years of being in a relationship with them? Do you realize what messages, spoken and unspoken, you are sending every single day? Have you thought about this?

As you go about your work, people are noticing you and observing you-sometimes very closely. They are constantly forming impressions: about your physical appearance, speech, competence level, body language, confidence, and character. While they may not tell you what they’re thinking, they are forming opinions of you all the time. These opinions may change, depending upon how you present yourself in a certain situation. If you haven’t already done so, it’s time to pay attention to the direct and indirect messages you send. Your promotion may depend on it.

Take a look at the following ten areas you need to assess about yourself:

1. Your personal hygiene and dress

Unfair as it may be, most people judge you first by how you look. You don’t have to be knock-out gorgeous or blindingly handsome, but you’ve got to appear clean, neat, and well put together. Do your clothes match? Are you shoes shined? Is your hairstyle simple and regularly maintained? Are the outfits you choose to wear appropriate for the occasion and the setting? Is your makeup attractive but subtle? What do people actually see when they look at you?

2. Your speech

People also judge you by the way you talk. This includes your choice of words, tone, volume, and speed. Do you select your words carefully so that they authentically represent the person you are? Do you avoid slang most of the time? Do you limit your use of profanity? What kind of tone is typical for you? Friendly? Considerate? Sincere? Do you speak too loudly or too softly? Do you talk too fast or too slow? Others take note of these stylistic characteristics.

3. Your competence

Whether someone is meeting you for the first time or has known you for five years, that individual is deciding just how competent you are during the conversation. The person is observing your posture, your state of alertness, the quality of your verbal contributions, your ability to engage him, your talent for responding appropriately. Whether or not this person’s assessment is accurate, he forms an opinion around your competence very quickly.

4. Your body language

Know that your body language communicates more than 80% of your message. Your facial expressions, mouth position, eye contact, how you sit or stand, and your degree of comfort in your personal space all tell people a lot about you. You could say you aren’t angry, but if your arms are crossed tightly, your eyes are narrowed, and your lips are pursed, people may very well see those as demonstrations of anger. In many cases the signals your body sends out carry more weight than your actual words

5. Your approachability factor

Immediately people determine whether or not you are someone they want to talk to, ask questions of, get input from. If they see a relaxed body with a smiling face, they are more likely to come over to you than if they see physical rigidity and a frown. Think about how you view this sort of thing. Aren’t you more apt to approach a person who emits vibes of openness? A person who conveys receptivity to others?

Tune in next week as we bring you part 2 of this article.

Karen Hinds is “The Workplace Success Expert.” For a FREE SPECIAL REPORT on Avoiding Career Killers in the Workplace, send an email to

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