People are often surprised by what they hear that has been said behind their backs….! I emphasize as part of my Reputation Management theme, the better one manages his or her reputation, the less likely such surprises will occur.

So what comprises a reputation? I stress it is so much more than one’s professional expertise and academic accomplishments. It includes attitude, approachability, verbal presence, sense of style, reliability, attention to detail, kindness, flexibility, global awareness, business etiquette usage, ability to mix and mingle, etc.

We admire those who always seem to know what to say and how to say it and we cringe as we hear someone put their foot in their mouth. We are thankful for those who deliver as promised, but our stress levels increase while waiting for those who repeatedly give excuses.

We enjoy working among those with positive, can-do attitudes as we attempt to avoid the whiners, the mean-spirited and snarky people.

Approachable people make us feel welcomed and acknowledged as their body language is inclusive rather than avoidant or arrogant.

And wow, do certain people own the room and the moment with their commanding, confident presence; whether giving a presentation or working the room, they are in their element.

And as I stress, diplomacy isn’t just for diplomats. People who carefully weigh their words for tact and tone give themselves a distinct advantage. In today’s world of increased brevity, basic verbal courtesy is almost a thing of the past.

As society has become increasingly salacious with a newfound sense of entitlement that includes knowing everything about everyone, protecting one’s reputation has become even more an area of concern.

My top 10 list of items that people notice, talk about and will impact your brand include:

  1. Are you comfortable mixing and mingling? Turning small talk into a big advantage.
  2. Do you recognize non-verbal communication signals in yourself and others? Pumping up the volume without saying a word.
  3. Do you communicate effectively, with words that send the right message. Using language to build bridges.
  4. Do you “demonstrate” the best of everyday etiquette? “Introducing” sure-fire leading behaviors.
  5. Are you “in the know” – current, contemporary and globally savvy? Lifelong learning that will take you the distance.
  6. Are your presentation skills on point? Conquering the conference room and captivating your audience.
  7. Are you confident and comfortable with business entertainment? Thinking on your feet (and outside of the box) out of the office.
  8. Are technology tools your friends or foes? Social networking and texting and emailing (oh my.)
  9. Are you known for doing what matters when it counts? The it factor…Gravitas
  10. Does your appearance convey the right professional image? Seeing it, BEING it (and how it looks in the rearview mirror).

While each of my top 10 dovetail perfectly one to the next, I recommend that people do a candid body language self-assessment – question #2. Non-verbal communication can impact a brand in ways that people are often unaware. As previously mentioned, approachability is key and I ask people, do you even know if you are approachable or not so much? It’s worth noting if people can’t answer the question without hesitation, they most likely are not as approachable as they need to be. And for the record, being approachable does not mean smiling all of the time…we don’t trust people who never stop smiling.

Our non-verbal communication will make others feel valued or dismissed, that we’re listening or distracted, that we have time to invest or please hurry up! The eyes really do say more than we realize and those who have learned to smile with their eyes have an overall welcoming presence. And just the opposite…people who roll their eyes communicate a passive aggressive nature – that’s not good!

Our non-verbal brand, which I like to call Body Talk, encompasses everything from head to toe. The way you own a room, the way you shake a hand, the way you give attentive eye contact, the sincere smile you offer, the pop in your step, the confidence your posture exhibits will without a doubt complement a person’s overall brand.

Note: Deborah Thomas Nininger was the guest on the January 21st #TChat Show.

About the Author: Deborah Thomas-Nininger is the founder of DTN Productions International-Hallmark of Etiquette, a training company that provides training on all areas of international and domestic protocol specializing in “Reputation Management” and communication strategies. She brings to you over 20 years of business etiquette, communication and self-presentation expertise, rooted in behavioral science and successful human interaction.

photo credit: Silicon Prairie News via photopin cc

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