May I Present Myself?

We all want to be accepted on our merits. We want to be judged for the good work we do or the value we can bring to an organization in the form of experience and education. Everyone wants to be liked for who they are and not some fake mold they fit into. In a perfect world, perhaps it would be just this way.

In general, however, we are judged first on sensory cues: the way we dress, speak, smell, and conduct ourselves. You may be the most qualified applicant the human resources professional has ever seen but if you haven’t bathed in a week, your résumé will go to the bottom of the pile. Let’s face it: it’s human nature to evaluate by our senses first. It’s all that’s accessible to us in order to make initial judgments about whether or not we wish to go deeper. Are you worth getting to know better? Do we want to give you the benefit of the doubt and allow you to prove your talents and abilities? Then we will instinctively, often unconsciously, make evaluations about character, intelligence, flexibility, and aptitude by the image presented to us.

You see, there is almost an equal importance in the image a person presents as there is in the abilities he or she brings to the workplace. How we dress, how we speak, and our behavior tells others what we think about them. If a man shows up for an interview in a raggedy old pair of pants and a windbreaker, the message he sends is that he does not consider the interviewer or the company worth getting dressed up for. So why should he be considered worth hiring?

People judge character by the manners they see. They assess professionalism and prudence by the clothes we wear and the way we wear them. They read something in our style and wonder whether or not we’re educated by the way we use the English language. There’s no point in getting worked up about it; it’s just the way people operate. What we must do is recognize that in order to help people see the most important things about us-our values, our talents, our virtues and strengths-we must clear away as many impediments as we can. What we do when considering the image we present in any situation is remove the roadblocks that prevent people from wanting to know us better and truly see the important characteristics that tell them who we really are.

Take your manners, for instance. Do you know how to introduce yourself? Do you know how to introduce someone else to an executive? Do you know how to conduct yourself in a fine restaurant? Are you aware of habits you may be practicing that irritate others? Maybe you need a course in etiquette. Etiquette is simply the timeless rules of behavior that prevent us from being unintentionally offensive, rude, unkind, unfair, or self-centered. Gracious manners always make others feel comfortable. They tell people that you are capable of professional behavior that invites responsibility. If you need improvement in this area, there are any number of courses in etiquette you can take advantage of. You can also go to your local library and find the section on etiquette and refresh yourself on the guidelines that fit your need. Gathering the rules for good behavior is not hard. It’s like driving: you learn, you practice, and pretty soon you aren’t focused anymore on the mechanics of driving; you’re enjoying the act of driving and appreciating the scenery. Seek the information and then practice it.

Need some help with the way you present yourself physically? Find someone who dresses impeccably and tell him or her how much you admire their style. Ask them if they will mentor you in the image department. Don’t be embarrassed-most anyone would be flattered by this and would delight in assisting you! Tell them you need someone to take you under their wing and give you a crash course on looking like a million bucks. Remember to be willing to take their advice! Style is all about learning basics and then modifying to suit the situation. If you need to learn the basics, don’t fight with what you’re being told. Another resource is the invaluable cable television show “What Not To Wear” on The Learning Channel (TLC). Check your local listings to find the program and listen carefully how the consultants explain the rules of dressing appropriately.

Presenting yourself with excellence means that you may have to do some search-and-rescue operations: you must search out what you are aware you need and rescue yourself from the disaster of not getting how important this can be! Don’t let the sensory information you offer to the people you meet put up a brick wall. If you really want to be judged on your merits, you must make the path to your character smooth and easy to navigate. Make yourself presentable and acceptable so they can get to know the real you!

Buying Presents for Other People’s Children

Over the years, it can be startling how many presents you seem to buy for other people’s children, whether your friends children, your children’s friends, nephews, nieces or God children. We hope this guide will give you some food for thought.

Your friend’s children
When we were younger we got into the habit of buying Christmas and Birthday presents for our friends children. Then, as our own children got older, we started to realise just how much stuff children accumulate – all those little presents really add up. One of our friends suggested that we stopped buying for each other and although it seemed a bit mean initially we think she was absolutely right. Certainly, our children haven’t missed these additional presents and we’ve probably saved a fortune.

Your children’s friends
Children will generally get a present from every child that they invite to their party (although we were in awe of one parent who sent their child to one of our children’s party without one!). If you hold a party in the local sports centre and invite the whole class that’s about 30 presents. If you want to see what 30 presents x 10 birthday parties looks like you should see our daughter’s bedroom – and most of the time we only had 10 children or so at a house party!

Have a budget and stick to it if at all possible. Our budget used to be £5 but it has crept up to more like £10 over the last couple of years – more if you add in the card and wrapping paper too. This may not sound like a lot, however, £10 x 30 children is £300 worth of presents!

Ask your child what their friend likes, and just as importantly, what they don’t – this is generally very helpful. If possible, take your child with you to buy the present or sit them with you if you’re buying on-line. Children can often instantly spot what will be popular. Try to avoid buying things which they are likely to have lots of already. By the time they are 7 or 8 most girls will have a room full of cuddlies, diaries, ornaments etc. Our son is only 3 so we’re not sure what the equivalents are for boys yet!

Now the pressure is really on – it is a well known fact that Aunties and Uncles always buy the best presents! My Auntie and Uncle have bought fantastic presents for my brothers and I and now our children for the last 40+ years. They always seem to be able to spot something that isn’t readily available in the shops and is just that little bit different. And they managed to do it without having a wonderful resource like the internet so really you have no excuse!

Some ideas are:
Think of alternatives to toys – how about a swimming bag and matching towel for school swimming lessons; a really nice backpack, a lava lamp for their bedroom.

If you’re buying toys – can you get something to go with what they already have – an exciting bridge or tunnel for their wooden train set, shiny new vehicles for their garage, a playroom or nursery set for their dolls house. These can give some of their older toys a new lease of life.

You could buy them a music CD or computer game but these can be really difficult to get right unless you know the child really well. You could ask mum or dad if there is anything they are desperate for currently.

Buy an experience rather than a present. If their parents will allow, why not take them out to a local theme park or to see a musical.

Hate Can Lead To The Death of a Negotiation – Negotiation Tip of the Week

“Hate Can Lead To The Death of a Negotiation”

Have you ever been so engulfed by hate when negotiating that you couldn’t think straight? Later, in a more calmer state of mind, you thought about responses you could have given that would have made the negotiation more palatable, more pleasant, more amenable per the outcome you sought. You’re wise enough to know, hate can lead to the death of a negotiation. You can prevent hate from hijacking your mind when negotiating by doing the following.


  • Hate is a very strong emotion.

Hate clouds the mind and thus the judgment of your decisions. That being a truism, you should know what triggers a shift in your emotional state of mind; that shift should be known from a good and bad perspective. Having such insights and being able to control them will give you greater control during the negotiation.

  • Be mindful not to view the other negotiator through a tainted lens.

Have you ever viewed someone through the lens of expectation? You may have thought, she’s just like ‘x’; I know what she’s like. The residue of your expectations will color your perspective of that person. Meanwhile, the person may not be anything like what you expected.

When you view the other negotiator through a tainted lens, you lose your ability to be subjective. Doing that can lead to misperceptions of intent, which in turn can turn the negotiation into a dark dead-end alley that eventually leads to the death of the negotiation.

  • Know your mind and that of the other negotiator.

Everyone is an individual. While many people may have similar thoughts that cause them to be viewed similarly, if you note the nuances that differentiate that person from his identified group, you can see the differences that person possesses from the group. To do so, you must know his mind and how he thinks. The same must also be true about you; you should understand what motivates you to adopt a particular action over another, and who you’re with when doing so. Such insights will give you a greater understanding of the psychological forces that motivate you and the other negotiator. Once identified, you’ll also have greater insights into the mental levers of psychological power you can use to manipulate yourself and him during the negotiation.

Be empathic:

  • Be willing to discuss emotions, while keeping an open mind.

Knowing you’re different from others is to know that they have their differences. If you keep an open mind, you’ll be capable of understanding the other negotiator. Thus, you can state at the beginning of the negotiation that you know he and you may see things differently, but you’re willing to enter into the negotiation with an open mind; be sure that you get his buy-in to do the same.

  • Know when it’s time to walk away.

Let’s be realistic. Due to the mindset of some people, you may not be able to reach an amicable outcome in a negotiation. Although you may empathize with someone’s perspective, know when to walk away; don’t be belligerent as you do. Always attempt to be respectful, understanding that a negotiation may reconvene at another time. As such, don’t poison the future with incendiary words today.

Sometimes a slammed door is the opening sound of opportunity. When you slam the door on hate in your negotiations you’ll be opening a door through which understanding can enter… and everything will be right with the world.

Remember, you’re always negotiating.