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Joining a New Group at a Networking Event

Have you ever gone to a Networking event and tried to join a group where you did not feel welcome. Here’s some hints to make joining a group of strangers easier.

If you want to join a group of two, watch their body language. If they move a little further apart and their bodies turn slightly to create a triangle that includes you, stay. They are welcoming you. If they only turn their heads and don’t move apart, find an excuse to leave. They are too engrossed to include someone else in their conversation.

In larger groups as each new person is welcome, the others move slightly to create a welcoming space in the circle for the newcomer.

One indicator of whether someone is interested in you or what you have to say when you are talking to them is if one or both of their feet are pointing towards you.

(Article sent to subscribers of The Fashion Translator eZine’ in 2009. Click here to sign up for The Fashion Translator eZine.)

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The Introvert-Extrovert Etiquette Difference

A  good friend of mine lent me a book to read – ‘The Introvert Advantage’ by Marti Olsen Laney. As an extrovert (and 75% of us are according to the author), it took this book to help me understand more about the quiet strength of the Introverts (the other 25%). So while I’m happy to celebrate my birthday jumping out of an aeroplane with everyone watching, my husband prefers a quiet dinner with our sons and me. Which of us made you say ‘That’s me’? It’s the Introvert/Extrovert difference and both are natural responses.

Look around you and when it’s time to praise someone, think carefully about whether they are an Introvert or Extrovert.

Praise and celebrate with the Extrovert in a group and praise and celebrate with the Introvert one-on-one or even in a sincere and hand-written card or letter.

If you are not sure, offer the person a choice and see which one they take.

And next time you plan a big surprise party, make sure it’s for an extrovert.

(Article sent to subscribers of The Fashion Translator eZine’in 2007. Click here to sign up for The Fashion Translator eZine.)

The Art of Compliments – Giving Effectively and Receiving Graciously

There you are in any situation and someone pays you a compliment. They say you look well or gorgeous or that meal you cooked was lovely. You blush. Then comes the put-down. It is from you not the one complimenting you. We women are often our own worst emery.

I have seen this happen so often. Why do we do it?

There are many reasons why women can be afraid of compliments. The simplest one is that we have not been taught how to give effective compliments nor how to receive them graciously.

Good manners never go out of fashion and a sincere compliment is a special gift to be treasured.

Here is my simple guide to giving and receiving compliments.

How to Give Effective Compliments

The aim of most women is to dress and look nice enough to receive compliments. These come more often from other women than the men in your life.

A great compliment is first about your body language. Be expressive and smile with your mouth and eyes as you give it. Nice words which are spoken from the mouth only are perceived as flattery and not believed. A smile from the mouth and eyes is perceived as more genuine.

Now for a technique I first learnt from Allan and Barbara Pease in their book, ‘Easy Peasey People Skills for Life’.  Add an explanation ie words that expand on why are saying nice things to that person.  Instead of saying that the other person looks lovely, add another sentence or use – ‘because’ – followed by your reason. ‘You look lovely because that aqua colour really makes you shine’. If you can, compliment her on her talents and skills. This shows that you have noticed something special about her. It will be heard, remembered and make her feel good about herself.

Lastly use her name at any place in your compliment. Using her name makes the compliment unique and special to her and acknowledges that she counts for something in the world.

We all have inborn skills and talents that we take for granted because they come easily to us and we assume that everyone else can do that skill as effortlessly as we can. When you notice that special skill and take the time to tell another person that this is not universal to everyone, you are giving the gift of individuality and reminding them that they have something unique that they can contribute to the world.

As adults, most of us get so little appreciation that giving a compliment is a wonderful gift and may be the nicest words that the other person has heard in a very long time.

Writing a Thank You

A short sentence or paragraph explaining why you are writing a Thank You Note is a compliment in a written form. Use the same technique to personalise cards or write on letter paper. You will be remembered as considerate, thoughtful and perceptive.

How to Receive Compliments Graciously

The mark of a confident woman is how graciously you receive compliments.

The simplest way is to say – thank you. Then smile. Those two words and a smile are enough. Many women are embarrassed by compliments; so just saying only those two words takes courage. At the most say – thank you for noticing.

Please do not add words that criticise or negate you or your talents and skills. The other person has given you a gift. Do not belittle their gift by saying that they are wrong. When you do this, you are embarrassing both yourself and the person who complimented you.

Being given a compliment is an opportunity to see yourself as others see you and to feel about yourself as others feel when they meet you. We are all concerned about the image we present to the world. A compliment allows us to experience the results of our efforts, especially our innate talents and our learned skills.

So listen more, speak very little and accept and appreciate the unique person you are.

There you have it. Explain the compliments you give and receive all compliments with two words and a smile. Simple but not always easy.

(This is a composite article of two shorter articles on Compliments that were sent to readers of  The Fashion Translator eZine’ in 2011. Click here to Signup for ‘The Fashion Translator’ eZine.)

The Unmentionables of Networking – Big Bad Bs

You’re talking to someone at a networking event and you get a strange feeling that they are slowly backing away from you as you speak. You dismiss it and say to yourself that they just weren’t interested. Networking seems to be hard work. You’re missing opportunities and you’re not sure why.

It may be one of the unmentionables that is killing your networking opportunities. No one will tell you.

Body Odour

There is no secret way to check your Body Odour. Ask a trusted friend not your live-in partner. He or she has got used to living with you and your special smell.

Here are some things to check that might help you.

Shower and use deodorant every day. People do talk amongst themselves and they know which men and women to avoid. An antiperspirant reduces the wetness and a deodorant suppresses the smell. Choose the one that meets your needs.

Stress and anxiety are common triggers of sweat and Body Odour in both males and females. The less stressed you are about networking and life, the better you smell.

Check the smell of your feet and your shoes.  Synthetic shoes can make the feet sweat and smell, especially if they are the only shoes you wear. Leather shoes breathe so these may be a better choice for networking.

Avoid strong perfume or aftershave. After a few uses, you cannot smell it on you but others can.

If you regularly eat garlic and pungent foods and spices, you get used to it but others can smell it as it comes out of the pores of your skin. Finally, non-smokers are definitely sensitive to a smoker’s smell even if you think that you have covered it up.

Bad Breath

I was taught a very simple test you can do to check how your breath smells.

‘Lick the back of one of your clean hands just near the thumb. Make sure that your hand has not recently been moisturised or body-lotioned. Then smell it. You’ll know immediately if you have a problem with your breath.’

Using a tongue scraper twice a day may help your mouth look clean and reduce bacteria. As the bad breath smell comes from the back of the throat, it’s a short-term reduction not a permanent cure.

There are many causes of Bad Breath. Eating foods such as onions, garlic and cauliflower have only a temporary effect on your breath. Do the ‘lick & smell’ test over a few days to see if you have a more serious problem. It may be a dental infection, your diet, your smoking, your snoring, emotional issues or a more serious underlying health problem.

Don’t ignore it. Talk to your dentist, doctor or preferred health source about it to find the best solution for you.

Bad Dressing

This can come in two ways. The first is in being dressed too casual. While business dress today is less formal, dressing for this can be a minefield. Those closer to 40 can be too casual and give the impression that they don’t take themselves and their business seriously. Business women over 50 can lack the skill of looking ‘modern professional’. Their 1990s classic dressing can give the impression of being out-of-date with modern ideas and modern technology.

The second aspect of Bad Image comes when a networker’s words and appearance are out of alignment. This is when you talk about health and vitality but look tired and dress in dark, low-contrast clothes. Or as one person approached me and said – ‘Talk to her. She is promoting financial success and dressed in cheap, ill-fitting clothes.’ Dressing in Prada is not essential but wearing quality, well-fitting clothes gives the impression that you practice what you preach.

All these Big Bad B’s that no-one speaks to your face can lose you valuable contacts, promotion, business and friendship.

If you need help with any of these, contact me for a quiet, private discussion.

(Article sent to subscribers of The Fashion Translator eZine’ on 3 May 2012. Click here to sign up for The Fashion Translator eZine.)

Heartfelt Giving – Pleasure or Pain

Recently I had coffee with a friend who was affected by the January 2011 Brisbane floods. I listened and I got the really personal experience of situations I have written about in my eProgram ‘Wardrobe Full, Nothing to Wear’.

While she and many others were grateful for all the help they received, some ‘giving’ created problems for the ‘receivers’ and it’s delicate stuff.  Receiving is not always pleasure. Sometimes it is pain.

So here’s three things to consider before you donate your unwanted clothes to another person or a charity so that you give where it will do the most good and be most appreciated.

Offer not Give

This is painful. We all feel that we are donating/giving from our hearts. We know that there are others less fortunate or poorer than us and we want to help. It makes us feel good to give and we want them to feel grateful for our generosity. Rejection is not part of our plan.

Now ‘walk a mile in the other person’s shoes’. That gift may be totally useless to them – not their style, size, colour or fit their current lifestyle situation. But they often take it so as not to upset or offend you.

Change your wording and perception. You are not ‘giving’. You are ‘offering’. And offers can be accepted or rejected. Think in ‘their shoes’ not yours. Your gift may be more appropriate somewhere else.

Ask What They Truly Want

There is the story of Juliette Wright who started http://www.givit.org.au because she found that what she was offering (designer baby clothes) was not what the charities desperately needed. So she started the website so that charities could ask for items that would support and make their clients’ lives more enjoyable and productive.

So before you offer your unwanted clothes and accessories to someone, ask what they truly want. The answer may surprise you because it’s usually not what you were thinking of giving. The pleasure is that you may be able to find and give the appropriate item. The pain is that you may have to find a different place to donate your unwanted items.

How Else Can I Donate?

Swapping is one option. You can organise your own or sign up for professional swap meets. There is still no guarantee that someone else will want what you are offering. You can search for specific charities that want what you have to offer or you can sell them. It can be a pleasurable game of ‘who wants what I offer’. Don’t stop at the first rejection. You can sign up for http://www.freecycle.org which is a donation site for your local area. You list the items and they may or may not be snapped up.

Donate without Rejection:  Put it anonymously in a charity bin and leave it for them to sort out. Be realistic. Some items are ready for your rubbish bin. Put them there and don’t leave it for for charity to throw it out.

By all means give from your heart. Just do it consciously. One day you may be the person who’d rather say ‘no’ than receive.

I leave you with this quote by Suze Orman in her book ‘Woman & Money, Australian Edition’, Hay House Publishers, 2009 – Generosity is when you give the right thing to the right person at the right time – and it benefits both of you.’