A) Do you live in or around Boston? B) Are you interested in learning more about emotional intelligence? C) Do you know what the heck emotional intelligence is? If you answer yes to a), b) and/or c), click here.
Oscars to Office: Dress like Lupita
Lupita Nyongo looked gorgeous last night in her elegant sky blue gown. Sigh. It’s pretty likely you’re not going to wear a Prada evening gown to work but you can make the look work for work by pairing a teal tailored skirt with a pleated or draped blue top. Top it with a chocolate brown jacket and brown suede heels and…awesome! Congratulations to Ms. Nyongo on her awards, her talent, her heart and her style.
Mardi Gras at Work
Let’s face it, Mardi Gras “fashion” and workwear are not synonymous. If you want to celebrate at work on Monday and Tuesday, incorporate the vibrant colors of Mardi Gras - pink, purple, green, gold - and a few beads.
The colors of Mardi Gras represent justice (purple), faith (green) and power (gold)? Strong colors and a strong message - seems apropos for work. For a full Mardi Gras history, click here (there’s also a cool countdown clock).
Six Tips to Remember Names at Networking Events
Next month I get to travel to San Diego! A respite from the winter cold AND a work opportunity. I will present on networking skills at an association conference. As I was working on my presentation, I was thinking that one of the most stressful parts of business social situations is remembering names. We all struggle with it. Here’s my advice:
- Have your own personal introduction practiced in advance. If you’re not anxious about what you are going to say, you’ll be more present so that you can actually…
- Listen. Be in the moment and actually listen to the person introducing his or herself to you. Do not be thinking about what you are going to say next. (You should already be prepared with two or three pocket questions that you can pull out.)
- Then own that person’s name: say it as soon as possible; ask them to spell it if necessary; associate the name (“Dan the Man,” “Dawn is sunrise,” “Frankie is lanky”). The old rule is to make sure you say the person’s name three times in the conversation. I don’t know if this is true but I do know that the more times you say it (without being annoying), the more likely you are to remember the name.
- Introduce that person to someone else - as soon as possible.
- If you go to introduce him or her and you’ve forgotten their name, apologize, ask for their name again, and make the introduction. Everyone forgets. It’s no big deal. And then you will definitely remember the name.
- Ask to stay connected. Give him or her your business card and get theirs in return (look at it). And when you can, send them a LinkedIn invitation.
Of course, the point isn’t to just remember a name, it’s to build a relationship. And networking events aren’t about immediate rewards: they are about future possibility.
Spring 2014 Trends for Work
Not all fashion trends translate into wearable work fashion. Fortunately, there are quite a few trends this spring that can work in your everyday business casual/elegant casual workplace.
- Outerwear: Collarless coats and bomber jackets. And I just read here that boxy jackets are in - but not moto jackets. Note: Boxy jackets are not universally flattering.
- Colors: Black & white (as far as I’m concerned, this is not a trend but forever green), hints of pink, and pastels. Note: If pastels wash you out, incorporate them in accessories like shoes and bags.
- Pants: Wide-leg and tuxedo.
- Light-weight sweaters.
After cruising through a bunch of trend projection compilations, I can see these trends in the workplace: white on white, tea-length skirts (these often read to girlie for me at work - but I’ll leave that up to you). Hey you awesome young women: consider wearing crop tops, sweat shirts, voluminous shift blouses, and major metallics for weekend/hanging out/going out wear.
Modules are sexy. No, really.
I just received a text from a personal brand client. He’s coaching a corporate client in Asia. He texted, “Thanks to you, I’m feeling great and looking great and the trip is going very well.”
I am so very glad. “C” was a joy to coach in personal brand awareness: he was open to change and wanted to represent himself and his company in the best possible way.
"C" is already an expert in his knowledge area - what did he need from me? Some information on fit and levels of dress. A bit of advice about representing his internal strengths externally. And he also needed to learn about modules.
Module: Is there a word that could sound less sexy? Yet “C” is feeling amazing right now because he knew everything that he had packed in his suitcase would work together. What’s more sexy than than being able to focus on others instead of worrying about what you’re going to wear? Well, yes, okay, a lot of things are more sexy - but it’s still great!
The module that “C” packed was a little more extensive than the usual, with two sets of shoes and belts, because he was going to be traveling in a different part of the world for over a week. In his module:
- 4 pairs of pants (actually, he bought 5)
- A jacket that can go with any of the pants. He actually bought a suit and is wearing the jacket as necessary. Shopping a couple days before his trip, he just couldn’t find a jacket that he liked. Some consultants will tell you that you shouldn’t break up a suit - but you can: Just make sure you dry clean pieces at the same rate and together.
- 6 collared shirts - 5 dress and one polo.
- 2 pairs of shoes and matching belts: the black shoes are wingtips and the brown shoes are a square-toed slip on. (The picture above is just an example I gave him to use when shopping.)
- A couple ties and a pocket square that will go with either tie.
Think of me as your Tumblr version of Reddit AMA. Feel free to ask me questions about work, success, failure, how to best represent yourself to move forward fast. I specialize in emotional intelligence, business etiquette, professional presence, personal brand. I’m also a sales professional/relationship builder. I’ve learned from my mistakes and my successes (and still have at least one of each every day). I love to learn - so feel free to share what you have learned.
6 Tricks for the Awesome Full-Figured Woman
Voluptuous. Full-figured. Super-eight. Curvy-diva. However you want to label a molded figure, go ahead. The point I want to make is that no matter your figure, you can have a professional presence and feel great.
Here are six tips for women who see their shape as full-sized apples, pears or rectangles. NOTE: Every body shape can be small, medium or large. No shape is bad. We all just are.
- Complement your curves (“Well, hello good lookin’. You are certainly magnificent peaks and valleys!) - don’t tent your curves.
- A second layer is your friend. Have the second layer skim your curves and/or accentuate your benefits.
- Consider a longer jacket to come down over your hips. Know that unless the jacket was devised by the designer not to button, you should buy a jacket that you CAN button. If you have to buy a larger size (that still fits in the shoulders), get it tailored to work for YOUR body.
- Draw attention to your moneymaker - your FACE, thank you. Try a chunky necklace or a blouse or sweater that features your clavicle (but not your cleavage).
- With everything you buy, purchase the size that fits the largest bit and then get the item tailored. Size. Shouldn’t. Matter. And when you get it tailored, it will fit so well and you will feel so great that you won’t mind having spent $50 dollars. Because you will wear it over and over and over again.
- Create vertical lines. See the jacket on the set above? It’s not meant to button. It hangs straight down and creates a vertical line down the middle. It makes you appear slimmer. It’s a trick of the eye.
Bonus tip: A low heel can be your friend. If you’re into 3 inch heels, proceed as you will (I never advise more than 3 inches for work). But know that a kitten heel to one-inch heel can actually be very comfortable for your feet and shouldn’t throw your body out of alignment. That bit of heel height makes you just a little taller. You might even hold your head a little higher.
NOTE: For those of you who follow Professionality, you might have seen this image a year or two ago. Some days I’m lazy. I also apologize for misspelling “vertical” in the set. Let’s not talk about my degree in English Literature at this proud moment.
Hi! High heels are a choice not a requirement for elegant women. While on the runways, through the lenses of the papparatzo, and in our imaginations elegant women always blythly trip along in heels, the fact of the matter is many of us don’t want to. There are many elegant flats made by high-end designers and middle-of-the-road companies on down the line. I was just looking at some Ivanka Trump flats on Zappos that are ladylike. And, in fact I was just doing a set with some of her shoes featured. I like the patterns. So stay tuned for that.
What really matters is that your shoes match your personality, are well-taken care of, and allow you to walk through the day without pain.
Elegant Fashion Personality at Work
The elegant fashion personality:
- Always put together: Not a hair out of place. Cat hair brushed off their coat before they walk out the door.
- Details like watches and jewelry are always as premium as possible.
- Clothing fits perfectly and will be designer as budget allows.
- Would rather invest in the best quality than have a lot of lesser quality. Happy to use the same Burberry bag over and over again.
Awareness of Touch in the Workplace
As any professional knows, the office isn’t the place for regular friendly hugs, social kisses and back rubs (remember George Bush and Angela Merkel? Awkward!). But many of us are quite affectionate (me included) and tend toward casual and brief pats, elbow squeezes, and cupped handshakes. We need to be aware: people do business with individuals who make them feel comfortable. Increase your awareness of others comfort levels with touching for greater success at work.
Just because you are a great big bear hugger doesn’t mean that you should be squeezing co-workers. It’s your personality and comfort level, not theirs. Watch other people’s body language clues when it comes to casual touch.
- Do they ever initiate touch - other than a greeting or concluding handshake?
- Do you ever see them touch others when having a conversation?
- Do they stiffen or immediately pull away when touched or hugged?
- In fact, do they have a reputation for not touching?
It’s not your job to make them more physically affectionate.
One of the hardest things I ever did was respect a co-worker’s preference for not touching. We worked closely together and held each other in high esteem (I certainly admired him!). But even when he moved on from our workplace and we were saying our good-byes, I did not initiate a parting hug. (He reallllly wasn’t in to social touching). Obviously, in the workplace you don’t want there to be any occasion for perceived inappropriateness but also it just makes sense to respect others’ preferences. It builds relationships.
Please consider the following:
- Watch co-workers’ body language: If they only ever briefly touch someone, stiffen when hugged or actually create great distance, respect their distance.
- Understand cultural preferences: Individuals from different countries and cultures have different levels of comfort with social touch. According to Alan and Barbara Pease in The Definitive Book of Body Language, the following cultures do not frequently touch in social situations: Germany, Japan, England, USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. High touch countries are India, Turkey, France, Italy, Greece and Spain.
Feel free to message me any questions about body language at work. It’s a favorite topic of mine.