How do other people describe the way you work? Are you approachable and collaborative? Or maybe judgmental and controlling? Or perhaps even inspiring and empowering?
The actions you take each day build your personal brand. The way you think, the way you feel and the way you behave shape the stories people tell about who you are and what they can expect from you when it comes to your work. Over time they become the trademark your colleagues and clients use to describe you and determine the opportunities that you're offered.
It is the foundation on which your career is built. So what does your personal brand say about you?
If you're struggling to describe your personal brand, you're in good company. In my experience, few of us have intentionally thought about the personal brand we want to be building. Instead we hope that if we put our heads down and work hard, other people will notice and admiringly say good things about our approach to others.
Of course that might happen... but doesn't hoping that someone will spot what you're doing, understand your intentions and accurately share this with others seem like a big gamble on which to stake your career? What if there were ways you could be building and enhancing your brand intentionally and authentically to create the kind of career you're craving?
"The truth is what we broadcast to others predicts our success at work," explains positive psychology researcher and best-selling author of Broadcasting Happiness, Michelle Gielan. "For example, new studies are finding that small shifts in the way we communicate can create big ripple effects in our careers including a 25 percent improvement in performance ratings, 31 percent improvement in productivity, 37 percent increase in sales and 23 percent reduction in stress."
"By cultivating a sense of rational optimism about your work, responding positively in stressful situations and providing support to others you can build a personal brand that we're finding accounts for 75 percent of job success," she explains. "Move the needle in any of these domains and you'll end up impacting your individual and team success rates."
You can achieve this by using:
- Power Leads: prime the brain for better performance - Start conversations, meetings, emails and other communications by saying something positive. Humans are socialized to reciprocate so the likelihood is that the person you are talking to will match your positivity, as opposed to complaining or venting. A power lead can be as simple as responding when asked, "How are you?" by saying "I'm great. I had breakfast with my son today, and he was being really funny." For meetings, you might begin by praising someone or getting your team to share their biggest win from the past week. Influential people write the social script and bring out the best in those around them.
- Flash Memories: leverage past wins to fuel future successes - A flash memory is the first thought that our brain has in response to a stimulus, and it directly influences the way we process the world and operate within it. A negative flash memory about someone or something typically causes us to steer clear of it, while a positive memory pulls us toward it like a gravitational field. If our flash memories about our potential or success are negative ("I'm not great at following through"), motivation and results suffer. We can rewrite flash memories that don't serve us well by adding new facts ("I did successfully deliver that project last year") and savoring the feelings of confidence these new memories bring.
- Learning Questions: Spark Positive Thinking - Questions can defuse stressful situations by moving past a person's mental defenses and illuminating new information. We can use well-timed, well-crafted questions to powerfully change people's stories, habits, and motivation. Become renowned for sparking positive thinking by asking questions that get other people to focus on the energizing, positive parts of their reality.
- Fact Check: move from paralysis to activation - When you're faced with a stressful or seemingly hopeless situation, move from paralysis to action by fact-checking the story you're telling yourself. Is this story true? Is it the only explanation for what might be happening or have you missed other important equally true facts that could spur you into positive action? Invest your energy in the facts that motivate you to move forward and see this new challenge as a learning opportunity.
- Strategic Retreats: deal with negative people - Negative people can increase our stress and hamper our ability to think and act positively. Strategic retreats have long been used to win battles, allowing you to regroup and reenter the fray stronger than ever. When you find your defenses are down (either because you're hungry, tired, or overcome with stress), the other person has emotionally dug in and is making no sense, or you're outnumbered or surrounded then it's time to retreat. Suggest a short break, ask for time to think through what they're sharing or simply find a reason to be somewhere else. Then give yourself some space to regroup and reestablish a more positive frame of mind before reentering the conversation when you are both in a better mood, you've thought through your responses and if you can take some positive reinforcements.
You can test how well you're currently doing when it comes to building a personal brand that will broadcast success with Michelle's free survey at www.broadcastinghappiness.com (just enter the code "flourishing"). And be sure to grab her new book "Broadcasting Happiness" for more tips.
How could you use these strategies to more intentionally build your personal brand and create the kind of career you're craving?