What's Your Story?

Let’s talk about perception in the workplace. What does your boss and coworkers think about you? Do they see you as an introvert who doesn’t speak up in meetings and prefers to stay behind the scenes, or do they see you as someone with high potential but needs a little improvement? Have you ever given thought to what you want others to think about when they meet you for the first time? What words would you want to pop into their heads? Think of these words as the foundation of your story. Once you know your words, it will make it easier for you to communicate your story through your visual presence. To help you develop these words, consider what is truly unique and amazing about you. This will help you identify what you want to bring to light. I have created an exercise to walk you through this process - check it here.

My words are professional, confident, approachable, stylish and fun. Your words can vary a bit between your personal and professional lives but they shouldn’t be completely opposite. During my previous career as an advertising and process improvement executive, I took on a new role, which required me to work on projects that included people from across the organization in various departments. I had to work with many people I did not know. As part of this change, I had to figure out how to ensure I was coming across as an approachable team player, but one who also demonstrated confidence, credibility and authority. I was in charge of very large projects, yet none of the people involved in these projects reported to me. I realized I had to change two things about my clothing: the style and color, while staying authentic to my fashion personality. Instead of wearing structured black suits and structured black jackets like I did most of the time, I chose jackets that were softer in construction and fabric. I also changed my color palette to more approachable and collaborative colors like blue, cream, green and brown. I continued wearing jackets to convey authority and confidence (and because I loved them!). My new clothing and color choices more clearly communicated the messages I intended. I was able to establish my self as a confident, authoritative professional who was approachable, collaborative and a solid

team player.

If you are interested in finding out how you are perceived at work, you’ll need to do some research. If you are brave enough, you can as ask your boss and coworkers the following questions: (Don’t forget to include the coworkers you may not have the best working relationship with right now.) If you are in a situation where you can’t ask your current boss or coworkers, see if one of your former bosses or former coworkers would be willing to help you.

  1. What was your first impression of me when we met?

  2. What words would you use to describe me to other professionals?

  3. What do you think my top three strengths are?

  4. What kind of car would describe me?

  5. What kind of dog would describe me?

  6. If you are a manager, ask your staff to describe your management style.

How did it go? Were you surprised by any of the responses? How do you feel? What words kept coming up? Were you able to identify your key words?

Now, take out a 3x5 index card and write out your three to five words. Create more than one card so you can keep one in your closet and one at work. The next step is to make the necessary adjustments to communicate the key messages you intend. Good luck and let me know how if goes by posting below. And if you need help-you know where to find me.

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Margaret Batting - Professional Development Consultant, Executive Coach, Brand Strategist and Keynote Speaker, Servicing Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Beyond
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