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: Professional Development

Holiday career destroyers

voiceA potential landmine during the season of cheer is the company or client holiday party. This is a time meant to build relationships not destroy or put them on life support.

It is a time not to drink or talk too much. Always remember to smile and refrain from discussing politics or religion. Avoid pouring your heart out or telling secrets to your boss or a colleague. Just build relationships.

A good sense of humor

smile_postcard-p2392812495396762627onr_325One personal trait I observed in working with successful executives is a good sense of humor. It’s shown in the person who can laugh at their own mistakes and take embarrassing moments and turn them around with humor.

I also believe if you can laugh at least once a day it makes those around you much more enjoyable. Surround yourself with folks who have a sense of humor to help you smile and laugh more often.

Understanding our communication style

coaching 2We all have very individualized thinking and communicating processes. In everyday situations, we manage to engage in pleasantries. However, it is in those difficult conversations that we go to our natural internal communication style.

It is critical to know what your style is so it can be effective and not work against us. A way to know your communication style is to mentally keep a log of when stress makes an appearance because that indicates the end of effective communications.

Greeting left to right

networking-pic-gifRecently, I was at an event with a group and a friend greeted me. He looked confused on how to start shaking hands or even to say hello. This was a social gathering and everyone was friends.

Always begin left to right when greeting a large group. The only time you don’t use the left to right process is in a business situation where you begin with the most important person in the group. It can be the client or the most senior person in the room. Hugs are only allowed with permission. This also holds true when making introductions.

Failure is an option for success

haircut disasterI recently heard Seth Godin give a talk about “Engagement – Do the Work You Love”. One of the elements of the talk stressed the importance of failure and the lessons learned from it. As we begin to grow and become more proficient in a subject, I believe we continue to strive for success and we work diligently to not fail. What that occurs, I think our growth ceases.

Folks I work with try and learn from situations that did not work out. An important failure I had early in my career was that my son told me to get out when making a pitch that suddenly heads south. I did not follow his advice.

In my presentation (the RFP was 50 pages), the interview was scheduled with two folks. Instead it turned out to be a team of five! I was terrible but instead of getting out of the interview, I forged ahead with my struggling presentation. It took me a year to get over it.

A few years later, I was asked by another company to put on a year program for 300 with 30 at a time in one day. I went into the interview with five people, performed well and won the project. This first failure was painful but it was the lesson that keeps giving.

Confidence 101

voiceSelf-talk, experience and practice builds confidence. If everyone could take a magic pill or read a book to automatically give produce confidence it would still w not replace these three practices. Self-talk is critical because no matter how many times we practice, we need this inner voice to be on our side.

Barbra Streisand still needs to go thru a self-talk before she performs in front of an audience. Experience gives us memories we can retrieve from our history that guide us to what worked and didn’t work. This gives us confidence to be effective and make the right decisions.

Ask for what you want

coaching 2Often, we fail to ask for what we want, maybe because we feel we will be refused, or that we don’t deserve it, or don’t know how to put it in words. The asking part is critical, word choices matter and timing is important. However, nothing matters if you don’t ask.

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.

Being nice is still critical for business success

the-big-love-heart-4aThe last article of a favorite Chicago Tribune business section columnist reiterated that he has not changed his opinion. Being nice, kind and thoughtful is critical to business success.

In my twenty plus years, I have found the executives with longevity are the ones who are good business people but also known as nice folks.

Why is presence so important?

targetOften, I observe technically competent folks with reasonable communications skills rise up the ladder pretty quickly and then hit a wall. The C-Suite does not see them as the face of the organization. This usually is first impressions garnered on connecting with an audience. It is the way they carry themselves meaning posture, pace and how they look any audience in its collective eye.

Also, it’s putting together clothing choices, grooming and the key ingredient of style and confidently navigating situations. They can be cut some slack if it is noticed that confidence and communication skills promote steadiness. Can some develop the critical factor of presence to move into the C suite?  Yes, with the right coach, mentors and champions, the C-Suite is a possibility!