Anna Soo Wildermuth

Welcome to Personal Images, Inc.!

Here I'll give you up to date tips on developing your personal and professional image to ensure your first impression will be your best impression. Also I will blog about current image and communication blunders. Feel free to join the discussion by leaving comments, and stay updated by subscribing to the RSS feed. Thanks for visiting my blog. – Anna

Change One Thing is a superb book that gives excellent advice to help jumpstart your engine." Stephen R. Covey, author, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

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Archive: Anna’s Posts

When is Casual Too Casual?

haircut disasterNot long ago, a major US airline stopped two young girls from boarding their plane because their attire did not conform to airline policy. The problem was their leggings.   There was some back and forth on social media, but libertarian impulses tended to dominate and the airline took the brunt of the social verdict. But every once in a while we should use an incident like this to reflect a bit more broadly on how far we have come, and where we are heading in the realm of casual dress. My answer to the first question is that we have come a bit too far and a bit too fast. For example, the time-worn rule of thumb, “No shirt, no shoes, no service” has been up for grabs for many years.   What qualifies as a shirt or blouse these days is not much more than a couple of square feet of strategically stitched fabric. What qualifies as shoes would be called a thong on any other part of the body. It will be difficult or impossible to reverse the trends we have experienced over the 30 to 40 years that casual dress has taken hold in the professional environment. But each of us can do our part to hold the line against future erosion of dignity and good taste.

Agree to disagree

coaching 2Today’s political environment is so charged that family members sometimes end up not talking to each other. Recently, I was riding in a car and the conversation turned challenging. I requested we not talk about politics unless we could agree to discuss by listening to each other’s point of view. We also agreed if we could not agree to disagree we should talk about other topics instead. If an agreement cannot be made to agree to disagree, then it is better not to discuss politics or any highly charged topic.

Breaking bread

networking-pic-gifSharing a meal with a new manager or employee is a great way to get to know each other on neutral ground. If time and geography allow, I always meet a potential new client before a proposal is written.

Recently, while coaching a group, it came up that they never had the opportunity to share a meal together. Food can be brought in during a lunch time. Since that time they had several opportunities to share a meal including once to celebrate and another time as they collaborated on a long project. Taking a client out for lunch or dinner as a thank you or just to get to know them can serve many purposes. I highly recommend it.

Can you hear me?

earMore and more folks today wear hearing aids. They are not just for the elderly any more.  Be sensitive to those who are using them. You don’t have speak loudly, just directly and succinctly. Speaking loudly makes it sometimes harder to hear. Do not act annoyed or impatient, instead, seek to understand. Wearing hearing aids can be very challenging for the new user.

Sleeveless shirts- business casual

wedding-1Business casual has become mainstream for women in the office. Most senior executives do not go sleeveless without a jacket. If the work population has more men than women, associated must wear sleeveless shirts with a jacket or sweater. This is understandable because sleeveless shirts have a wide range of styles and can be too casual. Sleeveless shirts with collars are an option. They have more polish and in very warm climates can look professional without a jacket.

Nails – What do they say?

Nails 2Women: Nails are a major element to grooming and come in on different shapes including pointed and square contours. Colors range from dark purple to multicolored to different colors for each nail! Nail shapes and colors should complement your hair and add a polished look to the rest of your image.

Men: Nails should be cut short and stay clean under the nail. However, I am seeing more men get lax by letting nails grow too long with jagged cuticles and dirt underneath the nail itself. Keep nails short (cut at least once a week). I recommend a manicure for a guideline on length and to keep cuticles neat. Nails too long and with rough cuticles are not acceptable if you want a polished elegant image.

Men and their shoes

brogues-and-jeans-730x500Polished leather shoes are becoming more commonplace with jeans for business casual. The rock stars and actors still favor the white or colorful athletic shoe. However, professionals have found that high gloss leather finished shoes gives elegance to their look.

Recently Marc Marion, a stand up comedian and podcast host, was featured in a well-known publication wearing very casual clothes with polished leather shoes. He looked very smart.

Being on time – a rare professional quality

alice-wonderland-rabbit-clockI often hear complaints about those who are never on time. They arrive late, run overtime in meetings causing extended sessions that nobody wants. Everyone is busy and it shows a lack of respect for those waiting. Here are some tips to stay on time:

• Plan to arrive 15 minutes early
• Plan a 60-minute meeting agenda for 50 minutes
• If you need more time as a presenter, ask for it in the beginning of the talk
• Always assume everyone’s schedules are busier than yours

Handshake Etiquette

conflict_resolution250WA handshake is a personal touch to establish a relationship. The dictionary states that a handshake is “a gripping and shaking of right hands by two individuals, as to symbolize greeting, congratulation, agreement, or farewell.”

I am continually surprised at the greeting handshakes that are either only finger tips touching or the grip is so strong it hurts. If you cannot shake hands for health reasons, just say I would love to shake your hand but I have a terrible cold or ___. It is better to speak up than to ignore shaking hands.
The five-star handshake is palm to palm, nice and firm with one or two pumps made while you look each other directly in the eye. This handshake says I want to get to know you.

Hugging

coaching 2Hugging in professional setting is really only acceptable when folks have a long term relationship and hugging has been established early on. If you want to hug someone, ask for permission to do so.

If you are not a hugger and have been asked if you can be hugged, it is your right to say no. However, do so in a way that lets the person know you want to have a relationship with them.

Hugging can be tricky when it involves men and women so proceed with caution. I personally like hugging a long term friend and client. It says to them I enjoy working with you.