How to Carry Yourself Professionally

How to carry yourself with dignity and propriety within both professional and formal contexts. It is important to make good first impressions, and to retain these good impressions.

  • Smile, if appropriate.
  • Maintain a resting face that looks agreeable and pleasant, or at least not dead or actively hostile.
  • Don’t wave your hands around a lot; hold onto a pen with both hands if you need help holding them still.
  • Sit up straight around other people.
  • Speak slowly and enunciate, and don’t mumble or let sentences trail off. To do this, plan what you say before you start speaking.
  • Don’t use filler words such as “like” or “um”. If you need soundwaves to fill up the air while you gather your thoughts, speak slower and maybe verbally summarize / acknowledge what was just said to you.
  • Don’t cuss unless necessary, but don’t make the person you are speaking to feel embarrassed for cussing if they choose to do so.
  • Speak clearly and assertively yet calmly. See my article on clear communication.

Mistakes to avoid:

  • Don’t speak a lot about negative things about yourself; don’t incessantly complain or behave as a chronic pessimist.
  • Don’t speak about negative things about other people, unless commiserating politely with someone above your station.
  • Keep your smartphone out of the way, and on silent if possible, because the vast majority of the time, constantly checking your phone will be interpreted as rude, lazy, and/or disrespectful.

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