Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The quality of your tools can mean the difference between success and failure.

I was golfing with my in-laws one beautiful day this past summer, and my Mother-in-law kept harping on me – “try George’s driver---try George’s wedge---try George’s five iron---and so on.” So finally I relented on a short par 4, asked for his driver and proceeded to blast the longest drive I had ever made. It was beautiful to watch. It kept climbing and climbing and climbing and went completely over the green. Wow! I knew that new clubs were better---the sweet spot was larger---and your accuracy was better but I had never experienced it myself. I can only imagine the difference the quality of equipment could mean between winning and losing at the professional level.

Then I started to think of the importance the quality of tools can have in business, especially when the margin between success and failure is razor thin. Tools that improve efficiency and productivity are easy to understand, but the less tangible tools that create impressions can still mean the difference between getting new business or not, or getting the fees or prices we set or not or getting approval or not.

I just recently started using a new LCD projector. It’s an Epson PowerLite projector. I need a fairly versatile projector because I can find myself in large and small rooms, in front of large and small crowds, I fly a lot, and since one of the courses I teach is presentation skills, my equipment better be right up there with the best. I noticed immediately that the colours on my laptop were the same as the colours being projected on the screen. I had never seen colour accuracy like this before. And the picture quality was amazing. An added bonus with this model is that I did not have to travel with my laptop – this projector works with my memory stick or even via the internet – and it makes life just a little bit easier. I wondered how this projection of quality could impact on the perception, albeit subtle, of quality on my business. I have to believe there is a co-relation.

People form opinions of you quickly, and connecting with the right impression is what it is all about. Project your self image in a way that breeds confidence in others; a perception of being the authority in your area, and more times than not, you win. And even though first impressions are not always correct, they are the ones that stick in people’s minds until corrected. What is the image that you have of yourself? What kind of image do you think you project?

There are 7 observable behaviours that help people form their impression of you and when you are aware of and control these 7 behavious, you create the impression you want, purposefully and this can mean the difference between success and failure.

Here are the 7 observable behaviours, in no particular order, that create those impressions:

1.) DRESS & GROOMING - Your dress should be credible and appropriate. Think about the impression you are trying to create and dress accordingly. If you are trying to create the impression of a leader or an authority, dress “one up” from the person(s) you are meeting.

2.) STANCE / POSTURE Posture should be upright, not round shouldered, like you “own” the place where you are standing. Stand tall and confident, like you’ve just won the lottery. Look like you want to be there. Stance does so much for your presence.

3.) GESTURES They should be fluid, smooth and not repetitive. WATCH FOR ANYTHING THAT SUGGESTS YOU ARE INSECURE. Should be more expressive. Gestures done poorly can give the impression of being unsure.

4.) MOVEMENT Should be fluid, confident, purposeful. Movement can give the impression of being in control, relaxed and confident. The happy wanderer can make you appear unsure and nervous.

5.) VOICE – VOCAL VARIETY Should project an air of confidence, filling the room. Voice should be full sounding, and be commanding and compelling. Watch for filler words such as ums, ahs, you knows, like, and other repetitive phrases that add no meaning to what you are saying. Remember that pausing also adds to the impression you are creating.

6.) FACIAL EXPRESSION & EYE CONTACT Your face should say “I am interested”, even excited. Direct eye contact is one of the most important tools to connect with the other person. Watch for the feeling of nervousness. Don’t try too hard. Your ability to look someone in the eye as you speak to them is a tell tale sign of our own self-respect. It’s not only a display of confidence, it is a DISPLAY OF TRUTH AND A DISPLAY OF RESPECT for the other person.

7.) WORDS & LANGUAGE. How personal or impersonal your language is has a direct bearing on connecting with the other person and creating the right impression. Your language should be appropriate, educated, decisive, certain. There should be directness in your speech; your tone and your words.

You can control these “tools” and create the right impression with the people you do business with. And the quality of everything else serves to enhance that image right down to the picture quality of the presentations you make.

Take a look at yourself in a mirror. What type of impression do you think you make when you meet people? Can you improve it in any way and increase your chances for success, and professionally with your career?

People, rightly or wrongly, form opinions and judgments quickly. Help them make the right decision. If you feel like a success, look like a success and act like a success, then … golly….you will be a success.

And the next time my Mother-in-law says “Try George’s 5 iron," I’ll quickly say – "Dad, please pass me your 5 iron.”

Have a great day.


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