We’ve seen it happen a lot of times– a better employee gets passed over for a promotion while the one who’s pushed up the corporate ladder isn’t exactly the sharpest tool in the shed.
You’d be surprised that it may not be because the universe is conspiring against you. It might actually be due to the things you do or don’t do.
Perception is, unfortunately, a powerful force in the workplace. What others think of you, specifically your boss, will influence how your work is recognized and rewarded. You may be the hardest worker—you stay longer in the office and close more deals—but it doesn’t mean anything if those around you are not aware of your work.
If you don’t know how to market yourself, others will get ahead of you. The question now is “How do I improve my colleagues’ perception of me?”
It’s alright to have an aversion to bragging. No one likes a braggart — it’s uncool. However, being overly humble can hurt you as it could keep you from taking advantage of opportunities that will benefit both you and the company.
When someone praises you for a job well done, how do you respond? Not wanting to come off as proud, you utter something that downplays your effort. Responses like “it wasn’t that difficult” or “anyone could’ve done it” are not going to help.
Learn how to market yourself by accepting recognition and owning up to your role.
“Thank you” should be enough. Better yet, say something like “thank you. I’m happy that you appreciate my hard work.” These kinds of responses will make your boss acknowledge that you’re someone to watch out for.
William Arruda, president of Reach Personal Branding, says that the first step in artful self-promotion is PERFORMANCE. The saying goes, “action speaks louder than words,” so speak volumes by excelling in each task.
Also, be ready to help co-workers. When you do someone a favor, especially if it involves a time-sensitive task, that person is more likely to sing your praises.
Take initiative. Employees who display leadership skills and initiative are the ones who get promoted, so don’t wait to be told what to do. If you see something that needs work, go ahead and dive in.
When someone asks you, “how’s your day going?” How do you respond? Interestingly, how you respond to simple questions like that affects how others see you. “Okay” or “Not bad” makes you sound bored and gloomy. But if you add a little more enthusiasm and say, “I’m great! Thanks for asking!” or “It’s awesome! How’s yours?” then you’ll seem friendlier and more optimistic. Remember that no one likes a sullen co-worker.
Look the Part
A study by professors at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University shows that what we wear affects how we work. It found that the symbolic meaning of clothes directly affects performance.
Clothes can empower you. Remember when you went to prom? Didn’t you feel like the most attractive person when you put on that suit (or gown for the ladies)? It’s the same with wearing suits or a more formal attire at the office. You’ll be more confident and you can’t market properly without confidence.
This can be as simple as changing the type of pant fit you wear or tucking your shirt in. Whatever the case may be, when you show up for work, make sure you look the part.
You might be a victim of perception now, but how people respond to you is a product of how you interact with them. Fortunately, you have the power to change that without having to go door-to-door at work. Sometimes all it takes is a little fine-tuning.
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