When I first started my business in 2011, it was almost entirely focused on working with individuals and groups on personal impact. What I do today is a lot broader than that; however personal impact is foundational to most of the work I do because personal impact whatever the situation matters at work.
You may question why that is, the answer is that fundamentally professional relationships start (or potentially don’t start at all, depending on the situation), depending on how we engage with others. Think about how you respond to someone that comes across credibly professionally (and the explanation of that varies, depending on the profession and situation) and someone who doesn’t. One of my clients last week explained how his behaviour differs depending on how someone comes across and that is pretty much true for all of us.
So whether I am talking to clients about networking, strategic relationship building internally, interviews or whatever other scenario, personal impact always has a role to play. You need to keep in mind that personal imapct whatever the situation matters at work.
What affects personal impact whatever the situation?
When I say personal impact, I mean how we engage with other people and the perception they gain of us. The 3 core ‘tools’ for creating personal impact are appearance, body language and voice. Naturally, the relative importance of the role they play depends on whether it is a face-to-face scenario or not.
Of course, the appearance aspect has more variation to it than ever before. Forty years ago in most offices, people would have dressed very similarly. Today, dress codes are more relaxed and there is far more ‘dress for your day’ given as guidance, with the smartest dress being reserved for client meetings. This is particularly welcome on a day that is as hot as the day I am writing this. It also gives space for personality.
However, with this comes a great responsibility for good judgement. If you are dressed inappropriately for what you are do and the situation, then not only will others be distracted by your appearance, you will feel out of place and this will affect your behaviour and performance.
It’s not all about clients either, consider how you want to be perceived internally, even if you are casually dressed, if you work in a fairly formal sector such as financial and professional services, it’s good to still look like you bothered. I had a client from one of the banks who came to one of my workshops, after we had been through the psychology of personal impact, he said to me he now understood why his boss had suggested he attend. Apparently his dress and behaviour in the office was too ‘relaxed’ and whilst his boss knew that changed when with clients, the more senior people didn’t see him in that scenario, so it could affect his carer progression.