This is the 4th article out of 10 about “10 things you can do that require zero talent to improve your life”. If you would like to read the intro to the series click here.
I think this is a very overlooked area of personal development and we need to put more emphasis on how we present ourselves. We may get by with poor body language around those we know but if we come across poorly to people we are just meeting or need to develop a relationship with we may not get another chance. Experts differ but most agree that over 50% of our communication is non-verbal body language. When I first heard those statistics I was surprises because whenever I think of communication I instantly think of verbal communication. My goal in this article is to provide some basic tips on how to improve your body language to become more confident meeting new people and wet your appetite to learn more about this overlooked area of communication.
When you think about it we really do communicate a lot about ourselves by our body language such as, confidence, happiness, approachability, openness, nervousness, and so on. The thing I want to stress is the more and more digital our world becomes the less skilled many people are in verbal and non-verbal communication which leaves a huge gap for you to set yourself apart from your competition. You can (and I encourage you to) dig a lot deeper into the science of body language but if you just start with the below quick tips I think you will find it worth your time to investigate further.
1. Hand Shake
When you meet someone you want your first impression to be a good one. Usually this begins with a quick “hello” and a handshake. You want to do a split second assessment of who’s hand you are shaking as you don't want it to be too rough if it is a woman or elderly individual. Simply give a firm 1-2 shakes and smile and thats it! It seems so simple and yet so many people mess it up with an overly strong handshake, a weak handshake, or an awkward handshake. Can’t you remember a time someone awkwardly shook your hand? I bet you didn't spend too much time with that individual.
2. Eye Contact
We don't trust people who don't make eye contact. If you don't make eye contact with the person you are speaking with you come across as untrustworthy, nervous, afraid, and immature. I understand some people are just naturally more shy and this can be a struggle but it is something you have to work on if you want to be taken seriously as an effective communicator. It may seems strange to say this but it is something you have to practice. If you need to practice this start with family and close friends. Consciously in conversations make an extra effort to give them consistent eye contact while talking and listening.
3. Body Posture
Don’t slump! Its physically bad for you and it makes you appear shorter as well as less confident. Also be aware of sitting up straight in your chair especially when you are talking to someone. Lastly, be careful of consistently crossing your arms or legs while speaking with someone. This gives the signal you are not open to what they are saying to you and that you are withdrawn and closed off.
Just bringing awareness to these basic body language principles will help you stand out from the crowd and help you develop your personal and professional relationships as well as make you more confident. These are so basic sounding that you may think you do them well already. I challenge you to think about it more closely and really analyze if you are doing these as good as you think. You may be surprised with the amount of improvement you can make.
J. Matthew King, Co-founder
This is the third article out of 10 about "10 things you can do that require zero talent to improve your life". If you would like to read the intro to the series click here: Ten things that require zero talent to improve your life.
Have you ever been watching a basketball game and the announcers keep talking about a player who isn't the most talented or the star of the team but is consistently playing great defense or diving for lose balls? This guy’s effort is what sets him apart and gets him noticed and this same attribute is how you can get noticed especially early in your career.
Effort is a choice. It isn't always easy to go above and beyond and there is a cost to going 100% all of the time. The cost is you have to give up other things. its like a seesaw, when something goes up something else must go down. Sometimes it is fun activities, friendships, relationships, sleep, and leisure time. Effort is all about your own will and desire to put in work that you can be proud of and demonstrates you are a valuable contributor to your team.
If you want to put in max effort you also have to be self motivating. While it is nice for your employer or peers to pat you on the back you cannot count on it. You must be the one to motivate yourself. How can you do that? First, by setting small rewards for certain achievements. If you make a deadline or have a significant contribution on a project let yourself celebrate. Second, Remind yourself what your objective is. Are you in this job to support your family? Are you in it to gain a skill that will allow you to own your own business someday? You have to keep your objective in your mind at all times. I would suggest creating written and visual reminders so when you get discouraged your objective is already so imprinted in your mind you can be reinvigorated by it and not give up or reduce your effort. You must keep in mind that if you put in effort now you will receive a benefit in the future.
Effort separates you from your peers. It shows you care, are serious, and are tough. When things get hard and you keep right on going it will be noticed. Don't get lazy and allow your level to go down to your peers. Keep the gas pressed down and max out your effort.
J. Matthew King, Co-founder
This is the second article out of 10 about "10 things you can do that require zero talent to improve your life". If you would like to read the intro to the series click here: Ten things that require zero talent to improve your life.
Have you ever heard someone talking about someone you know and they said, "so and so has a great work ethic!"? Well what is “work ethic”? dictionary.com defines it as, “a belief in the moral benefit and importance of work and its inherent ability to strengthen character.” If you are religious the term may also bring to mind a verse like 2 Thessalonians 3:10 which says, “For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.” Even if you are not religious this is a common term used everyday to describe someone who is known to be a hard worker, willing to put in extra time, doesn't complain, and doesn't shy away from the tough jobs.
When you hear someone being describes as having a good work ethic usually they are also dependable, trustworthy, and show up on time. They don't spend all their time around the water cooler gossiping or on YouTube 2 hours a day. They are the workhorses their boss knows they can depend on. So why is it so important to have this characteristic?
But how do you develop a strong work ethic if you struggle with some of these characteristics from the first paragraph? The good news is its not astrophysics it just takes some self-discipline, commitment, and don't forget to mix in some grit and long hours. So how do you become known as having a strong work ethic?
These characteristics aren't hard to develop but that doesn't mean they’re not hard to do. They do take commitment and discipline but it will pay off if you dedicate yourself to developing a strong work ethic.
Matt King, Co-founder
This is the first article out of 10 about 10 things you can do that require zero talent to improve your life. If you would like to read the intro to the series click here: Ten Things that require zero talent to improve your life.
I’m going to be honest…this is a big time pet peeve of mine! Maybe because growing up we were always AT LEAST 15 minutes early to everything. Regardless it strikes a nerve with me when I have an appointment with someone and they are late. We live in a fast paced culture where everyone has a busy schedule so this is a golden opportunity for you to set yourself apart from the rank and file. Being on time does a few things for you, lets get into it…
2. Shows you value their time
3. Shows you keep your word
If you think about all three of these ways being on time helps you it really is demonstrating who you are. It is telling the people you have appointments with about your personality and character before you have even talked to them. It sets you up for success and starts building a relationship of trust.
Let me know what you think in the comments or on the socials! Next we are going to talk about…Work Ethic
Matt King, Co-founder
We are all on a journey of self improvement. Our goal each day is to get a little bit better than the day before. It may not be a short process but as long as we are moving forward we can feel good about where we’re headed.
Sometimes on our journey we get caught up thinking we have to have a special talent or ability in order to make improvements and advance our position in life. The goal of this series is to show you that is not the case. We are going to look at 10 things you can do (starting today!) that require absolutely zero talent to improve your job, relationships, health…your LIFE!
I will keep them short and practical and plan to thrown in some videos as well. I am looking forward to learning a few things and thanks for coming on the journey with me.
Matt King, Co-founder
I was walking through the grocery store recently and looked to my left and saw the picture above of artificial sweeteners. It struck me in that moment that If you look at the products in the picture above it is a testament to many peoples outlook on life, not just their eating habits. I don't like to generalize but let’s be real for a second, many MANY people are looking for shortcuts in all aspects of life; School, health, career, relationships, etc. We ask, “how can I shortcut or hack my way through this process to get the results I want without the work?” While I admire and applaud finding more efficient and practical ways to accomplish goals that is not what I am talking about. I am talking about trying to get results without putting in the work to earn it!
In my mind there are a few types of people who are always on the hunt for shortcuts.
They include someone who routinely quits when things get tough, they never commit, they are untrustworthy, not goal oriented, lazy, undisciplined, always hunting for a get rich quick idea. Do you know any of those types of people? Have you ever been that type of person? I have been a shortcut hunter for sure. Especially when it comes to eating or working out. I have tried to get away with a fad diet, or workout in hopes I will get the results I want without paying the cost of success. These types of people are not the kind you want to be or be associated with.
The truth I have found has been that shortcuts can work! At least at first they can. The problem is they don’t last. Gimmicks aren’t sustainable, fads don’t last forever. Cutting corners is not a plan it is a flawed attempt to bypass the hard work others have done to achieve real sustainable results.
The times I have been most successful is when I have paid the price of success. What is that? You know what it is, deep down we all do, we just don't want to hear it. The price of success, is hard, disciplined work, long focused hours and relentless drive. Sounds like fun, right? It is simple but hard! The sooner you accept there is no magic formulas, and no tricks or shortcuts you can be on your way to getting real work done.
The other point I will make is to be wary of companies, media, and people who peddle shortcuts to you. They will try and sell you on their method, diet, or business plan, and it will sound real. However, if you poke around a little and look behind the curtain you will find out if it is a shortcut or not, and if it is you will know those people are not your friends and they are not concerned with your success, they are simply using you to attain their goals. Don’t fall for it. If an opportunity looks hard, requires self discipline and focus then it most likely is real. In those instances throw yourself wholeheartedly into it and you will be on your way (albeit long) path to success.
J. Matthew King, Co-founder
This is part 2 of 2 discussing what your follow up steps will be if you don't get a job you apply for. In part 1 we discussed getting rejected from a job where you currently work. In part 2 I will discuss not getting a job at another company. You can find part 1 here: http://www.thedesignedman.com/my-career/what-to-do-when-you-dont-get-the-job-part-1.
1. Ask Why You Didn't Get the Job. Most likely the interviewer or recruiter will give you a call to let you know you did not get the position. In most cases they will be guarded about the reasons you did not get the job but it is still good to ask. Do not be pushy but try to find out as much as you can so you can use the information for your next interview. Be sure to be kind and courteous as you do not want to burn any bridges in for future.
2. Review Your Qualifications. Make sure you are applying for jobs you are a solid candidate for. I am all about stretching yourself but you also have to be able to gauge whether or not you are stretching yourself too far in the jobs you apply for. This is especially important if you have been rejected from several similar jobs.
3. Focus on Your Interview Skills. Having excellent communications skills is even more important when you are applying for jobs at companies you do not currently work at. Interviewers have a tough task in choosing candidates based off their first impressions at an interview. If you do not have good interview skills you are setting yourself up to be first on the chopping block. You owe it too yourself to practice interviewing with a friend. It may be awkward but it will be worth it. You could also look for a career coach to help you improve your communication skills.
4. Redouble Your Efforts. Job hunting is very hard and extremely tiring and it is easy to get discouraged. Hearing “no” over and over can be damaging to your psyche and make you want to quit looking. Try and reframe the situation by looking at the rejections as an opportunity for growth. Each time you hear “no” you have the chance to improve for the next round of interviews. If you do not currently have a job you have to view finding a job as your job. This is an 8 hour or more a day practice. Wake up, apply for jobs, work on your communication skills, interview, and repeat the next day. If you currently have a job you are going to have to put in extra time to focus on finding a new job. While it will be tiring, try and think of the reward of getting a job you love. When you look back on the long hours searching for a job you will be able to look back with pride knowing you put in the work to improve yourself and were ready when opportunity knocked.
J. Matthew King, Co-Founder
I am a huge proponent of mentoring and think finding a mentor is one of the best ways to fastback your success in any area of life. Given that fact i want to propose the next level of mentorship which I am calling a personal advisory board. Unfortunately one person isn't going to be an expert in all areas that you may need help with in order to reach all of your goals. An example would be someone who has career success you want to mirror but their spiritual life isn't at the level you aspire to achieve. This is a perfect example of where a personal advisory board can come into play. Another consideration is when you only rely on one mentor it can be a heavy burden for them to support you in multiple aspects of life. A personal advisory board spreads the burden across multiple individuals and gives you broader access to different types of expertise.
So, what would a personal advisory board look like? These are my suggestions but feel free to customize them to what works best for you and your unique needs. Identify 3-5 people you would like to be on your advisory board. Each of them should be an expert in the area you need their mentorship. Some suggested areas could be: Marriage/relationships, career, health, finance, spirituality.
Next, ask each person to serve on your board and tell them why you chose them and what your goals are for your relationship. It is very important that YOU drive the relationship and the goals for when you meet. You are asking them to invest their valuable time with you so it is up to you to be prepared for your discussions and use the time wisely. I suggest setting one on one monthly meetings with each person separately. Discuss your current questions or issues and keep meeting minutes you can refer to later. Make specific goals with each board member.
Ask each member of your board to lead one of the meetings every 6 months to evaluate you and your progress on the goals you laid out for the 6 month period and where they see your biggest room for growth.
Maybe this sounds crazy to you but excellence takes being willing to push yourself above your comfort level. You want to give yourself the best opportunity for success in all areas of your life and this is a great opportunity to get the personalized help you need to set yourself apart. Think about who you want on your personal advisory board, get to asking them, and start making progress toward your goals.
Matt King, Co-founder
This is going to be part 1 of 2 discussing what your follow up steps will be if you don't get a job you apply for. In part 1 I will talk about getting rejected from a job where you currently work. In part 2 I will discuss a job at another company.
Applying for a job you want can take some courage especially if it is a stretch job. When you get rejected it can be extremely disappointing and hurtful. Take a few days to regroup but don’t let it get you down. Put your plan in place so you can become a better prospect for the same job down the road or something even better.
J. Matthew King, Co-Founder
I am terrible with directions. It’s been an issue for some time now. Its almost laughable how bad it is. I basically have to drive somewhere 3 to 4 times before I remember how to get there. And anywhere beyond my usual daily route, I have to consult my GPS. So invariably, every so often I will be out and perhaps my phone may die, or its not getting reception and there I am, lost, with no direction. Most of the time I need step by step directions or I have no clue.
Just like with driving, in life, if you have no map and no directions, you are lost. You may be going somewhere, but you’re probably second guessing yourself, and not going fast. You may think that since you are working hard and have your foot on the gas that you are getting somewhere, but maybe you’re just driving fast in circles. To be successful, you must have a roadmap. First you need to identify where you want to go, and plan accordingly.
So, where do you want to go? Find out what you are passionate about, and what you are talented in, try to match these things together. Get a pen and paper out, brainstorm at least 20 ideas. What are your strengths, how can you leverage them, and what can you do with those strengths? In this idea session do not let yourself talk your way out of things, such as “Oh, if I want to do that I would have to get a doctorate”, write it down. You are going to have to get creative to get all 20 ideas down, but keep at it.
When you find where you want to go, now is the time to plan your route. Just like landmarks help you arrive safely when driving, you will need landmarks, or small goals to get where you want to go. Write down your goals, write 20 goals. Keep writing them everyday, after a few days stop consulting your previous list. Write what comes to mind first, when you immediately remember and write certain goals down, this may help you realize which goals you truly are interested in, and are eager to complete.
The third and most important step is to write out your day the night before, this helps you accomplish small goals. These small goals that you accomplish will turn into massive gains over time.
Don’t go through your life lost, how soon are we to consult our GPS or ask someone for directions when we are lost on the road. Should we not more importantly know where we are going in life?
Jonathan King, Co-founder