How to improve your personal impact in a professional setting

Business conference

Maya Angelou famously stated, “People may not remember exactly what you did or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel”. Impressions are made within seconds, and it is very difficult to change how others feel about you once an impression has been made.

Your personal impact may make the difference between making a sale or not, getting your dream job or not, or how your colleagues perceive you. This article aims to give you practical tips on how to make an impact in a professional setting, with emphasis on the impression you make on your clients, colleagues and counterparts as a credible individual.

Your Personal Brand – Many people believe that putting on a “work persona” makes them credible. From a young age, we are conditioned to define our ambitions by stereotypes, and we mirror ourselves to the behaviours and attributes that we associate with these stereotypes. To differentiate yourself, make sure that your brand shines through your “work persona” E.g. The estate agent who genuinely cares about client needs makes more of a positive impact on clients than the “typical estate agent” does.

Speak their Language – Being a knowledgeable person on a technical subject is not useful unless you are able to explain the content to others in a language that makes sense to them. Many people wrongly believe that using technical language makes them appear smarter and more intellectual. In reality, the person being communicated to would most likely feel confused if they are not a technical expert also. If Maya Angelou is right, the way you make a person feel is extremely important, therefore ensuring that you explain technical terms in plain language will ensure that a person leaves feeling a sense of clarity rather than confusion.

The Personal Touches – Think about how great it felt when someone last paid you a complement, remembered a detail from your last interaction or asked about your family. These are all personal gestures that encourage others to FEEL good about their interaction with you. Avoid social clichés like commenting on the weather or asking about the weekend. Commenting positively on a client’s new haircut or remembering their birthday is more likely to leave a positive impression. That said, in a professional context, balance personal with professional by avoiding the subject of relationships, sensitive topics and sexual connotations.

Integrity – The professional world can often lack integrity, which makes it even easier to spot the fakes. Lack of integrity comes in several shapes and forms including intentional overpromising and under-delivering, water cooler gossip, or giving ill advice for an outcome in your favour. As humans, we naturally gravitate towards people we can trust, and this is more important in the professional world. Maintain your integrity and your clients, colleagues and counterparts will value you as a person they can trust, which is a great position to be in professionally.

Gravitas – The Oxford Dictionary defines gravitas as “Dignity, seriousness, or solemnity of manner”. Certain professional environments may require a level of seriousness. In situations where you may need to come across influential and credible, your gravitas makes all the difference. To improve your gravitas, confidence is key! It is important to ensure that you value yourself as a credible individual to allow others to view you in the same light. Give firm handshakes, avoid using too many hand gestures as you speak and ensure you come across very poised. Avoid using filler phrase like “umm”, and in meetings, balance speaking with listening, ensuring that your contributions are concise yet informative.

By Winnie Oudemans