“Positive First Impressions”

by Susan Fee  – Note: Susan Fee will be a keynote speaker at the Western Region Credit Conference
                        October 15-17, 2008 in Las Vegas,  NV

When you watch TV or listen to the radio, how long is it before you to decide whether or not you like the programming?  Seconds, perhaps?  That’s exactly how long you have before others form an impression of you.   

First impressions are crucial because they set the stage for future conversations, relationships, and business.  Face-to-face communication matters, but so do all the other ways we send messages about ourselves.  Consider what your cell phone ring says about you?  What about your voice-mail message, posture, and handshake? 

When it comes to your image, be proactive.  Determine how you want to be perceived rather than wait to be labeled.  Choose three descriptive words you’d like others to associate with your name, and then consciously behave and speak in ways that support those descriptions.  Here are ten more success tips from Positive First Impressions:  83 Ways to Establish Confidence, Competence, and Trust, by Susan Fee.   

1. Share what you can do, not what you can’t.  Whatever you focus on expands, so by emphasizing your strengths, they’ll grow and you’ll be associated with success.

2. Be consistent.  Building trust requires predictable, consistent behavior.  Act professionally whether it’s in the office, elevator, or break room.  Someone is always watching.      

3. Choose friends wisely.  You will naturally be linked with the company you keep.  If you spend time with people who are known for negative characteristics like gossiping, you’ll be found guilty by association.

4. Eliminate “try” from your vocabulary.  It’s a verbal escape clause that communicates lack of commitment.  Instead of trying to do your best, just do it.

5. Speak at a rate of approximately 150 words per minute.  Slow talkers are associated with being boring and fast talkers are often perceived as being dishonest.  (Figure out your rate by reading 150 words of an article out loud and timing yourself.)

6. Drop tag questions.  Ending sentences with, “okay?” weakens your message by making you sound unsure. 

7. Smile when talking on the phone just as you would in person.  It adds warmth to your voice that radiates through the line.

8. Update your voicemail message daily.  Personalizing your message with the date tells callers you are dependable.  Remember to smile!   

9. Maintain an appropriate personal space.  Between four feet and 18 inches is considered appropriate for business relationships. 

10.  Wear name badges high on your right shoulder.  This makes them easy for others to read (especially when shaking hands).  Avoid placing them low on your chest, pocket, or belt loop.  Those places are embarrassing and uncomfortable for people to look. 

Susan Fee is a licensed counselor, executive coach, and speaker.  Positive First Impressions:  83 Ways to Communicate Confidence, Competence, and Trust ($5.00) is available through her Web site:  www.susanfee.com.   

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