Previously, we talked about how to dress the part to project a positive perception. But there’s more to projecting a good personal brand than merely dressing the part. How you behave with company, and project your personality will ultimately seal the deal
Is Looking Good Really Good Enough?
“Look Good, Feel Good” ~ We’ve heard the mantra before, and yes, we still stand by that phrase. But there’s actually more to it than merely looking the part. We’ve all probably seen this before, a well-groomed and well-dressed man, but with a foul mouth, and bad temper to boot. If we haven’t witnessed him in action, we’d probably passed him off as a refined gentleman too. This is one situation when being fully decked out in an expensive bespoke suit is no guarantee of a cultured upbringing.
It’s a well documented fact, that when you’re fully decked out in a business suit, you’ll involuntarily carry your head up higher. You’ll also be more “well behaved” than when you’re relaxed, and lounging on a sofa in front of the television.
You’ll be surprised how you actually behave much more gentlemanly and professionally when you’re well dressed, even when you’re merely talking over the phone. The person on the other end of the line won’t even see you at all. And yet, the tone of your voice alone projects an image of a well dressed gentleman on the other end of the line.
Complement Your Sharp Dress Sense, Behave Like A Gentleman
You’ve mastered your dressing style. Your face is freshly cleaned, hair neatly combed, and facial hair groomed or clean shaven. You’ve got your static image all ironed out. But then the time comes when you have to actually interact with people, to speak to them. This is when you have to complement your well groomed good looks with cultured and educated demeanour.
So how do you do that?… How do you behave like a refined, cultured, and well educated gentleman?…
(1) Master Your Command Of The Language
Nothing betrays your well mannered upbringing and polished culture by speaking in broken English. For the sake of the continuity of this article, we’ll assume the de-facto language as English, but feel free to substitute other languages in its place. The impact is the same, regardless what language is being used.
Having an excellent command of the language is important. However, it doesn’t mean that you’ll have to pepper in generous amounts of technical jargons just to show how large your vocabulary is. Unless you’re having a technical conversation with equally technical people, jargons will actually work against you. Convey your message across in plain and simple English. Make it understandable across the whole spectrum of people that you might be addressing. If you have to use jargons, always accompany them with explanations in simple English. It actually helps when you’re not trying to “show off” with your language skills.
In short, read widely. Better still, write and publish widely too. This is in direct relation to how we learn back in school. If we merely listen in class, we absorb only about 30% of the lesson. If we participate in active discussion in class, we absorb about 60% of the lesson. But if we put what we learn into practice, we’ll absorb a whopping 90% of the lesson
Reading widely is a good way to expand your command in English. But writing and publishing your own articles or books will help boost your command of English exponentially.
Actually, this quote was originally extracted from the book Vulgaria, by William Horman in 1591. But let’s stick to the 21st century interpretation from the movie for now. What the quote points out is that your manners take precedence in shaping how others perceive your social status. Are you of high social stature, or even of aristocratic lineage? Or are you merely a blue-collar unskilled labourer? How you interact with the people around you tells more about you than the bespoke suit that you’re wearing.
You see, the way you behave in polite company will reflect on your perceived background and upbringing. It will ultimately confirm or deny what your outlook already says about who you are.
(3) Knowledge Is Power
Discussing something that you’re knowledgable in is always the best option. But sometimes, the situation will come when you’ll be put in the spotlight, and asked your opinion about something that’s not exactly in your area of expertise. And no, declining to comment isn’t an option. Neither is cooking up some lame excuse about not knowing much about the subject at hand.
Just like mastering your command of English, this is where reading widely is your best option. The more you read about the subject, the more you know. But the more you discuss, the better you get at the subject. The problem is that there’s no way of knowing exactly which subject is the hot potato that’ll be passed to you… So how do you prepare for that?… How CAN you possibly prepare for that?…
If there’s a dirty little secret to handling awkward situations like this, it’s that knowing a LITTLE BIT of EVERYTHING is usually sufficient in getting you out of the hot seat. You don’t have to claim to be an expert in anything. Just give your honest opinion based on what little that you do know, and then ask others for their opinions. You’ll be surprised how the course of the conversation will go. Plus, the people you’re having the conversation with usually won’t realise just how little you actually know about the subject.
Again, read widely. And never refuse to contribute your opinion in whatever topic that the conversation may steer towards. More often than not, people will remember you as the “charismatic” and “knowledgable” gentleman who was “generous” enough to share his knowledge with others.
(4) You Can Learn To Be Charismatic Too
The word “charisma” is often talked about, but less often properly understood by those to talk about them. So what exactly is charisma? And how can it help form a positive personal brand image of yourself?
You can read about what it is in the link above, but I’ll briefly summarise it here. Charisma is generally referred to as the special attraction that some people have that makes themselves likeable. These qualities usually include being confident yet emphatic, and optimistic yet emotional. In short, being interesting, and attract the attention of the crowd. Believe it or not, it’s exactly what an effective leader is often described as. With these charismatic qualities, one can often be assertive, persuasive, and very often get people to do their bidding willingly.
Hence, it comes as no surprise that charismatic leaders are those who are normally associated with having great personal brands.
Dressed To The Nines? Then Behave To The Nines Too
The best way to project your personal branding is to first form a favourable image of yourself. Then project it forward confidently, whether to the people immediately surrounding you, or even those beyond your immediate reach. Ultimately, you’ll want to hear people telling you that your reputation precedes you. And you confidently know the reputation that they’re referring to is a positive one.