Empowering Women Through Body Language

Whether we like it or not, we are judged by our image. In this space and with our clients, we’ve done our fair share of posts on first impressions and dressing for success for ladies. Considering the revelations that have rocked the pillars of Hollywood, journalism, the arts, and many other industries over the past month, our own conversations have circled back to power and respect. For example, in the workplace, what’s “too sexy”, and in interactions with members of the opposite sex, what’s “flirtatious”?

As a woman, you can empower yourself immediately, in nearly any situation, by being in control of the verbal and nonverbal signals you’re sending. And while signals change depending on where you are, your confidence will apply in nearly any country you are traveling to. Here are a few body language mistakes that lady leaders often make.

  • Head tilts – Tilting your head can signal, “I’m listening”, but using it too much may be perceived as a sexy invitation. If you want to project power and authority, try to keep your head straight and forward, in a neutral position.
  • Girlish behaviors – Twirling your hair, playing with jewelry, biting your fingers, and touching your neck can make you appear nervous.
  • Nodding too much – Constant head nodding shows engagement and encouragement, but not power.
  • Voice “rise” – Raising the pitch of your voice in the middle of sentences is not an authoritative way to express yourself. Try to maintain a stable and strong tone.
  • Expressive hand movements – In situations where you want to maximize your authority — minimize your movements. When you appear calm and contained, you look more powerful.
  • Soft handshake – A weak handshake is perceived to be less confident and even submissive. Always try to go for a firm handshake.
  • Flirt – Flirting may gain you quick likeability, but may cause you to lose your competitive advantage in the business world. Try to avoid blatant flirting.

 

To improve your nonverbal communication skills, try working with a female friend who will give you honest feedback. Practice going through a 10-min presentation or business lunch, projecting confidence and avoiding the trouble habits listed above. Take your friend’s feedback seriously, and try to incorporate it into your professional life. Then, ask a trusted male friend to do the same with you. Ask them for feedback on your “performance”, especially your body language. Notice what may be different in his feedback, find the balance, and incorporate it.

Self-awareness in business interactions creates chances for you to get your core message (thoughts and ideas) across and in front of your gender and image. Your enhanced sense of confidence will project no matter where you are in the world, or whom you are doing business with.

How do you project confidence in the workplace through nonverbal communication?

Invitation Etiquette Essentials

About a month ago, I received an invitation (via email) to an intimate wine and cheese party, hosted by a good friend I’ve known for a year or so. I responded quickly (for 2), and on the eve of the event brought my husband along to enjoy a lovely pre-dinner party with the host and a few of her friends. After such a delightful evening, I was dismayed the next morning when said host informed me privately that several invitees had never responded to her invite – and to top it off, that out of nine individuals who registered “yes”, two of them did not show up to the event!

Clients and friends often ask us about what’s proper in these scenarios, so we wanted to share a few basic reminders to help you keep courtesy top of mind, at all times – and for anything special you’ve been invited to.

 

Invitations: Always acknowledge that you’ve received an invitation within 24 hours. If you need a few days to consider or arrange your schedule, that’s ok – but letting your host know that you’re in receipt of the message is the right thing to do.

 

Respond in kind: If you receive an invitation via postal mail, respond via postal mail. If you receive an invitation via phone call, respond via phone call or voicemail. If you receive an invitation via email, respond via email (in the same thread). If you receive an invite via social media it is ok to RSVP publicly but you should always send a private “thank you” to the host, showing your gratitude for including you.

 

Stuck? Need to Cancel?: It occasionally happens to us all – our kid gets sick, we get stuck at work. As soon as you know you’ll be late or have to cancel, reach out to the host yourself (don’t make your assistant do it). And remember, unless a local official has declared a state of emergency, “it’s raining/snowing outside” is never an appropriate reason to skip attending an invited event. Suck it up and head over, just as you’d want your friends to show up for you.

 

Saying Thank-You: Within 24 hours, send a brief thank-you note to your host via postal mail. If getting to the post isn’t possible within a day or so, an email is also acceptable (but not as delightful as receiving a physical, personal thank-you).

 

Relationships take work, and maintaining them requires effort on both parts. Even when you’re in a busy period of life, remembering to take a few minutes out to show gratitude to those who’ve included you will pay off later in life.

Armrest Wars: Who has the right to rest an arm?!

Traveling internationally can generate feelings that are equal parts disappointment and excitement, annoyance and joy. Few things frustrate our friends and clients more than getting into an armrest war with a fellow passenger on a plane or train!

 

Here are a few best practices we follow to avoid such situations, whether we’re traveling for work or not:

 

  • When your flight is full, the person in the middle seat gets both armrests. They are likely feeling the most squished and should be allowed the extra comfort – and this makes things fair for the two passengers on the sides.
  • If you are boarding and see that things may get tight, observe the rest of the plane. If it’s not a full flight, ask your fellow passenger if she/he minds spreading to the sides and leaving the middle seat open. Or, ask a flight attendant to help you move to another row.
  • On a train, where it’s typically 2-seats by 2-seats, the person on the window gets the middle armrest because the passenger on the aisle already has an armrest. If someone isn’t cooperating, try to move to a different row. If seats are assigned, ask the conductor to help you transfer to another car with an officially empty seat.

 

The most important thing to remember is your sense of patience – and if someone is exceptionally difficult, ask an attendant to help you! They are trained in conflict resolution among passengers and can often provide help quickly so that you don’t have to get worked up. And remember to take a deep breath.. no flight or train ride lasts forever; it will be over sooner than you think!

 

In case you are feeling alone in your armrest frustrations – fear not, and for a knowing laugh about what NOT to do on a plane, check out the Instagram account of @passengershaming (not for tender eyes!)

 

How do you share the armrest when you travel?

Tips for Looking Better in Photos

Nowadays, it seems we are constantly being included in photos. At the dinner table, outside restaurants, between sessions at a conference, and now, especially, on our once-sacred “lounge days” during vacation. We document the people we’re with while we’re at the places we love!

 

The catch to all this documentation is that few of us can afford to bring a professional lighting crew and “glam squad” around at all times to accentuate our best assets! You don’t have to have the resources of an A-lister, however, to be prepared and look your best in nearly every photo taken.

 

Here are a few tips we’ve shared with clients this year:

 

  1. If you anticipate that you’ll be photographed in advance of an outing, apply your makeup according to the lighting you expect
  2. Try to stand with the sun/light source behind the camera, so that you are front lit. It’s much easier to filter a photo later that’s been front lit than the opposite; check out Afterlight as a great app to correct great backlit shots (available for IOS, Android and Windows phones)h
  3. If you’ll be outside, try to avoid sparkle in foundations and eye makeup. Glitter often accentuates your fine lines and will age you
  4. Avoid wearing too much blush, and when you do, blend it in well
  5. Use a light-reflecting concealer to combat dark circles under the eyes
  6. Use an anti-shine crème to keep your skin matte
  7. It’s ok to cheat the camera. Stand sideways, cross your legs to slim the body, and always try to twist your shoulders to face the photographer
  8. Do not chew gum, and always mind your posture
  9. If you’ll be with friends, politely ask to be photographed from your “better side,” if it feels appropriate
  10. Do not ask waiters or strangers to take additional rounds after the first shot(s). They have not been hired to help you document your evening; be ok with a shot or two, and then let it be.

And, in case you need to get ready for photos in a pinch, here are a few tricks for the ladies:

 

  1. Create subtle, smoky eyes with eye shadow and your fingertips
  2. Smooth out flyaways with your hands
  3. Plump up your eyelash volume with a curler or volumizing mascara
  4. Bonus: always check your teeth for spinach and other delights!

How do you get ready for photos? Share with us ……

 

 

Dressing Well for a Job Interview

There are few occasions more important than impressing a prospective employer. Whether you’re making a career change or simply interviewing for a transfer internally, you want to present yourself in the most flattering, professional light. Taking time to get this right early in your interview preparations will allow you to spend mental energy on the important stuff – like what you’re going to say and what you’re going to ask, instead of fretting about what to wear.

 

Here are a few tips for dressing for a job interview:

  • Always follow the company dress code. Find out whether it’s formal or casual by observing employees arriving for work.
  • Plan to dress slightly better than an employee would there. At least, your clothes and shoes should be neat & clean and don’t forget to style your hair too.
  • If you have body art/tattoos, cover them up until you know whether they are acceptable in that workplace.
  • For women: makeup should be subtle and nails with reasonable length.
  • Remember, dress as you belong to that company.

From there, ask yourself a few questions before laying out your outfit:

Should I wear a suit? In many industries, it’s a good idea to wear a suit for a job interview. Especially for a conservative business. For example, if you’re applying for a job in an investment firm, go with a navy blue or dark gray suit.

What if the company I’m applying to is dressing more casual? It’s a good idea to match your interview attire to the prospective job. If you are applying for a job working on a warehouse floor, you will look out of place wearing a formal suit. Keeping that in mind, dress a bit better than you would for a regular workday there, and always ensure that clothing is cleaned and pressed as appropriate.

With any job interviews, if you’re unsure of what the dress code is – a best practice is to dress up the extra notch. It’s better to look polished than to look too casual. If you’re still unsure, your prospective employers’ HR department should be able to help you. Ask them what their staff wear in the office each day; such preparation, to most companies, will make you stand out for being prepared!

Proper Etiquette in Museums

Recent travels have kept us thinking about client stories and challenges regarding dress, courtesies and more while visiting other places. This month, we’re looking at a few key considerations when traveling.

 

If your next vacation plans have you taking a historical journey, you’ll likely spend time in at least a few museums. Here are 5 tips we encourage our client-travelers to consider, if of course they’re of the museum-visiting variety.

 

  1. Keep your voice down. Acoustics in older buildings can make sounds carry further than normal, and even if you think you’re in a room alone – chances are, there are other visitors in earshot. If you must chat: whisper, or step outside or over to a stairwell.
  2. Be mindful of your image. Comfort is key, but shorts/flip-flops/miniskirts should be avoided while visiting working churches and cathedrals.
  3. Plan ahead. Many museums contain multiple floors and exhibits; trying to see it all in one session (while adding the stresses of traveling) can be too much. Pick your top 2 or 3 exhibits; visit those first, then break before attempting to see more.
  4. Consider your children’s ages. If your child/grandchild is under 5 years old, museums can be a difficult place. Let’s face it: kids can be loud (crying and wining is distressing to many), plus kids under 5 don’t often appreciate what they’re seeing. Call ahead to see if your museum of interest has a playroom, childcare, or a kids’ exhibit.
  5. Always bring layers and a personal folding fan; you’ll need both. Museums in Europe are often lacking in central air conditioning, and museums in North and Central America usually have too much air conditioning. You don’t want your visit ruined because you’re unbearably cold or hot.

 

Being respectful while visiting important institutions is always the golden rule in any cultural establishment. Keeping the aforementioned tips in mind will help you be mindful and comfortable in just about any museum or culturally relevant place of learning.

 

What’s your favorite memory from visiting a museum? What do you wear when you visit a museum?

 

Post your comments below!

Dressing ‘Right’ For Your Kids’ Sporting Events

For those of us with kids, life is full of running around, literally. Many of our clients’ time is often spent cheering on little loved ones at sporting events, indoors or out, and sometimes there are questions about the best dress for these options. We’ve put together some wardrobe ideas to help prepare you to be comfortable, fashionable, rearing to get your CHEER on!

Courtesy of moms.popsugar

 

Outdoor Ideas: Viewing the game from the sidelines of a field

 

  1. SPF protection is a must. Avoid getting awkward sunburns by lathering on a high SPF sunscreen. Grab your hat – baseball or large-brimmed – for extra coverage.
  2. Wear sunglasses. Prevent the pain of squinting when trying to make out your favorite player on the field. Large lenses ward off the development of fine lines around your eyes.
  3. Layer up and down. Try a linen shirt (great for hot weather) with a jean jacket and scarf. Or go for a cotton T-shirt under a cotton long-sleeved cardigan and a blazer. Whether the sun is rising or falling, you’ll be set to shed or pull on your layers accordingly. A colorful flannel can be dressed up with the right scarf, too, or dressed down by tying it around the waist for an added flair (or even as a cushion on uncomfortable bleachers).
  4. Avoid Heels. Don’t irrigate the field by ruining your favorite heels or heeled boot. Wear flat boots, clogs or your great-looking sneaker.
  5. The multi-purpose blanket. Need a cushion for those hard, cold bleachers? Want to sit down on the damp grass but don’t want a wet bottom? Does the sun set too soon and you find yourself needing an extra layer of warmth? The handy dandy blanket that you keep stored in the trunk of your car can be a lifesaver. Don’t leave home without it.
  6. Waterproof ponchos to the rescue! When you’re scheduled for spring games played under unpredictable skies, make sure you haven’t forgotten your raingear. Nothing should get in the way of you watching your kid hitting a game-winning home run!

 

Indoor Ideas: Watching the game from the bleachers

 

  1. Put on your socks. For those expansive, chilly arenas, make sure you have warm socks underneath your pants or leggings. Add a tall boot for more warmth. Cold feet leads to a cold body, and that can quickly lead to grumpiness.
  2. Layer scarves. Have a scarf around your neck that you can easily put on or take off as needed.
  3. Keep those fingers warm. Cashmere gloves (or at least fingerless gloves) will ward off the chill. Important Note: Wearing gloves will muffle your clapping. Remove them and stuff them in pockets during the thrilling moments.
  4. Pick up a microfiber undergarment. Keeping your torso warm goes a long way to feeling comfortable in overly air-conditioned buildings. For extra warmth, make sure that the layer closest to your skin is long enough to cover your behind when you sit down.
  5. Get ready to get hot. While some are air conditioned, other arenas can get hot and stuffy. Make sure your lightest layers are cute and appropriate in case you end up taking off your sweater or jacket.

 

General best looks for cheering success

  1. Donning your team’s colors. You’ll feel more involved in the game when you sport your team’s colors. Pair them with neutrals so they’ll stand out.
  2. Coat checks– nah. Don’t bring more than you need to venues where coat checks aren’t available. You don’t want to be holding extra stuff in your lap or putting items on the floor where they can get wet or dirty.
  3. Pick up a small crossbody bag. You’ll be able to jump up and cheer and know it is securely on you at all times.
  4. “Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.” This is a sports motto one can borrow from the hit TV series Friday Night Lights. Cheering with this in mind will help you be the best spectator you can be.

 

If nothing else, remember to dress with stylish comfort so that you can put all your focus on the game once play begins. Have other tips and tricks that help you dress appropriately for your kids’ sports games? Let us know at @SpImageConsulting on FB or @nycimageacademy on Twitter