- Don’t let the way you speak undermine your credibility
Unless you’re talking to a very close friend, don’t use “bro speak” (“Yo dude, wassup?”). And unless you work with children, never use baby talk: “Can you answer a teensy-weensy question for me?” In either case, the minute you speak to a coworker like this, you’re doomed. It will be the first thing people think of every time they see you. And it will take away all of your authority.
- Don’t treat your cubicle like your bedroom
Adding personal touches to your cubicle is fine. After all, you’re going to be spending a lot of time there. But there’s a big difference between putting up pictures of your family and pictures of your favorite shirtless actor! Décor isn’t the only factor that can make you look unprofessional. Being generally messy, leaving half-empty coffee cups out, getting sandwich crumbs all over your desk: these are guaranteed to make others see you as childish.
- Stop using text language and emoticons L
Professional correspondence should not resemble a text message. Your work emails represent not only you but your company, so don’t pepper them with LOLs and IDKs. Eliminating slang and text message vernacular extends to conversations and presentations as well. You don’t want to be perceived as – OMG – immature, do you?
- When you speak, talk about things you really know about
People will tend to view you as an authority if you share intelligent ideas and informed opinions about subjects you’re truly familiar with, like your career, your hobbies, your passions. You needn’t be informed on everything – just stick with the subjects that are important to you. People don’t respect those who babble about things they obviously know little about.
- Let people talk about themselves
This is how you learn about other people and are perceived as a good listener. When people share information about themselves, they tend to appreciate each other more. Being a good listener is also a great way to form social bonds with others and earn their respect.
- Know what’s going on in the world
You’re not going to be taken seriously if you can’t speak intelligently about what’s going on in your industry. You need to keep up, not just with your own business, but with the world in general. From current events and politics to sports and culture, you should be able to offer an informed opinion in office conversations. You’ll be taken seriously when you do.
- Stand – and sit – like a grown-up
Posture influences the way others see you. When your boss drops by your office and sees you with your feet up on your desk, or slumped down in your chair as if you were watching TV, his impression won’t be a positive one. Good posture makes you look more capable and professional.
- Show respect for those older than you
People won’t appreciate you if you make them feel like dinosaurs. While your youth may be an advantage today, it’s an ephemeral one. You’re going to get old one day too! If you disdain your older colleagues, they’re going to have a hard time seeing you as a serious contender for promotion.
- Don’t be the office clown or flirt
Places of business are not places of entertainment, and while playing the clown or the flirt will generate interest (good – or maybe bad), neither the clown nor the flirt will ever be first in line for promotion. In fact, they’re more likely to be first in line if people need to be laid off.
- Dress like a professional
There’s a certain level of expectation when it comes to dress in the workplace. We expect to see executives in business attire and we associate those who wear business attire with positions of power. So if you want to be taken seriously on the job, lose the T-shirt and torn jeans in favor of more credibility-building attire.