How would you define professional success? If you laid out a road map for your professional success what would it look like? What personal skills do you have that will help propel you to your goal?
Certainly professional success can mean many things to many different people. For some it will be reaching a certain income level, for others it will be achieving their own business and then for some achieving professional success would be helping humanity for little or no financial reward. However, you define professional success, your personal skills will play a key role.
Personal skills are developed over the course of our life. They are developed at various times and under various circumstances. It is likely that our parents are the most influential individuals in the development of our personal and social skills. From our parents we learn manners, the appropriate way to treat our siblings and how to act in public. The common term for these skills is etiquette and ethics. Our learning experience continues as we are exposed to different social and business environments. The key is knowing what is expected and acceptable in these environments. Building these skills is what will set you apart in social circles and in the workplace. Personal and professional success consists of both ethics and etiquette.
Ethics, both in business and personal situations is based on some very simple principles; honesty, consideration and respect:
How long does it take to make an impression? You have approximately 7 seconds to make a great first impression. What happens if you are not successful? Will you get a second chance? Maybe not. So, how can you be successful in building strong personal and business relationships? A great way to start is to pay attention to these three things:
Your actions, your appearance and your words combined projects the image of who you are as a person and it is this image that will create either a positive or negative impression on every person you meet.
Etiquette is not just about table manners. Etiquette is a set of guidelines that can help you navigate various socioeconomic classes. Etiquette is also courtesy and knowing how to behave in a variety of different situations. Different situations will dictate the need for you to employ different set of social skills. The benefit to developing proper social skills is that you will feel confident in all social circles. Consider the difference between the a fast food place and a fine dining restaurant. Grabbing something to eat in a fast food place is much different than dining in a fancy high-end restaurant, right?
However, we should not underestimate the importance of table manners in the business realm. Business lunches and/or dinners can fall into two categories: casual or formal. The one thing to remember here is that you are still making an impression. It is also important to take note that your are also representing your company as well as yourself at these engagements. One important reality to remember, like it or not, we are always being judged in one instance or another, but it is particularly true when it comes to table manners. The sum total of our up-bringing can be ascertained by observing one’s table manners. My passion for etiquette began as a child of a woman who was very proper. She instilled in me the importance of good table manners and proper table setting. Understanding the difference between formal and informal table settings, which fork to use when, soup spoons vs. teaspoons, what glass is what, is important. If you are unsure about formal place settings there are resources available.
Attention to details, being aware of different social environments, dressing for the occasion are very important for personal and business success. I have often used the analogy of having the ability to go from motorcycle casual to ballroom prince or princess. A family member once asked me about a woman he was considering as a potential wife, knowing his lifestyle, I responded, if she can go from “motorcycle momma” to “country club elite” you have a winner.
When we consider etiquette and our professional success, we should also consider the impact of technology has on the way we communicate and other socially acceptable norms.
Here are some additional things to consider for professional success:
In life, we will find ourselves in many different types of social, professional, and business situations which require adaptability. Your professional success depends on your ability to navigate social and business circles well.
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