Don't be such a downer
spass/ShutterstockYour natural temperament may be cynical, sarcastic, or ultra low-key but if you have a job working with customers or clients you need to figure out a way to do your best Pollyanna imitation—especially if the client seems bored. "When dealing with a potential client that is showing signs of "lack of interest," employees need to be able to make responsive judgment calls and steer the conversation to a more uplifting and interesting manner," says Cody Schuldt, president and CEO of Spartan Digital.
Stick to the point
Rawpixel.com/ShutterstockIt's understandable that you feel your work is the most important thing, but don't expect everyone else to feel the same. The best way to start things off right with a new client or partner is to be respectful of their time. This means planning ahead and paring your speech down to the bare necessities (here are seven other things you can do to look smart in a meeting). "Potential clients are very busy and they don't have all day to discuss one project so I expect my employees to be concise about their statements and to the point," Schuldt says. You can always answer questions afterward.
Put. Your. Phone. Away.
elwynn/ShutterstockWe're all dependent on our phones, it's a necessary evil of doing business today. But when you're doing business your phone needs to be gone. Seriously. Put it in your pocket, lock it in your bag, or even ask someone else to hold it for you—whatever it takes to keep you from checking it every time you get a notification. You may think that people won't notice a quick glance down at your phone or smart watch but they do and it leaves them feeling like they're not getting your full attention which is just rude, Schuldt says. It's fine to bring out your phone to check your notes or calendar, or add a contact, but if you don't need it for what you're doing, put it away. Also, don't forget to set your phone to silent (not just vibrate, but silent) during meetings. Here are the signs you're addicted to your cell phone.
Don't be a slouch
sitravelalot/ShutterstockSit up straight. It turns out your mother was right all along and good posture is important. Not only will you look naturally more confident and alert but slumping makes you look tired and checked out, Schuldt says. It's not as hard as you think. Use these 7 tricks to improve your posture right now.
Remember who your meal ticket is
Andrey Popov/ShutterstockYour first allegiance should always be to your company. They are, after all, the ones paying your salary, says Paula Conway, president of Astonish Media Group. "The fact is that you work because of how hard we work to keep business coming in," she says. "The decisions, including criticisms and directives, we make daily are often regarded as tough on staff, but they're for the best interest of the company." (Make sure know these 10 seemingly harmless things that you could end up getting fired for.)
If you want to be a boss, act like a boss
Eugenio Marongiu/ShutterstockIf getting promoted is your end goal the time to start thinking like a boss is now, Conway says. This means taking pride in your work and the company and thinking ahead for how you can be proactive. "My tip for employees is this: act each day as if you run the company; get in front of issues, be proactive, and do your work like a boss," she says. "If our value is a pay check, your value is not your work, it's the quality of your work." Find out the secrets to being a good boss.
Remember, bosses are people too
marvent/ShutterstockBosses aren't robots, they're human beings with frailties, quirks, and sensitivities, just like you. Yet often bosses aren't given any slack from employees who expect them to always be on top of everything, says Greg Dewald, CEO of Bright!Tax US Expat Tax Services. "For example, I'm a perfectionist, but not everyone is, so it's frustrating sometimes if an employee doesn't 'get' me sometimes," he adds.
It is your fault, even if it isn't
Nattakorn Maneerat/Shutterstock"The two things I can't stand are if an employee makes excuses, or if they blame a client for a problem," Dewald says. "The client is always right, so it's the employee's job to react and adapt to their individual requirements, not expect them to fit into a 'one size fits all' mold for the benefit of our convenience." Sound unfair? Then you don't understand business. Try these easy ways to build trust with your boss.
Don't ever say, "That's too hard"
g stockstudio/ShutterstockYou may think you're just being honest, but by verbally expressing your doubt you're showing that you don't have faith in your boss's ability to assign you tasks or your ability to complete them. If your boss gave you a job, it's usually because they think you can do it and be successful. "A big pet peeve of mine is when an employee says 'This looks hard'," Brown-Massey says. "Words are powerful and they can turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy for you or instill doubt in others." Positive thinking is a skill that will help you throughout your life, in fact it's one of the 13 strategies of straight-A students even post-grads will love.
Startups aren't glamorous money machines
SFIOCRACHO/ShutterstockThe movies may make start-ups look like a grand adventure bankrolled by "angel investors" that make everyone into billionaires but the reality is far different, says Nneka Brown-Massey, founder and CEO of Innovative Supplies Worldwide, Inc. Starting your own business can be agonizing work with long hours and no pay for a long time. "I wish my employees understood better how running a small business works. As a small business owner I wear 17 different hats, which means I don't have, say, a payroll team. It's just me, writing your checks."