The office remains the final frontier of Caveman life. The workplace is still a jungle, in the eyes of many. It is a laboratory of Darwinism in practice. Every day is a survival of the fittest. Some people advance, while others get canned. Some people seemingly have all of the company tasks fall upon their shoulders, while others seem to skate by without ever doing real work. Employees vie for the attention of their bosses, often pitted against one another. A cut throat office environment breeds mistrust, envy, and competition.
The last thing you want to do is get left behind. Corporations move fast. In our Capitalist societies, companies must always stay one step ahead of the competition in order to be profitable and successful. That means the office place is competitive, and always looking for leaders who take control of their work, display utmost competence, and help their companies remain competitive.
In order to survive in the corporate jungle, an employee must command respect earn the trust of superiors. The only way to accomplish this is to be seen as an authority. There are several important steps to gaining that authority.
Since we all spend the majority of our day in an office, or working with others, these are seven important rules for gaining authority in the workplace:
1) Dress is the first impression.
First impressions are the most important impressions. Your appearance is your first impression, before any other words are spoken. Dressing poorly will automatically undermine your authority. You don’t need to spend a ton of money to look sharp and put together. Invest in some nice clothes. Make the first impression a strong one.
2) Handshake is the second impression.
The handshake should be firm and solid. A weak handshake sets off so many bad signals that it can be hard to recover from. The number of pumps depends on the person you can are shaking with. There are many cultural variations on the introductory handshake. In the United States, we tend to pump about three times. Of course, a handshake is usually reserved for a first meeting, and doesn’t particularly apply to the colleagues you work with on a daily basis. But it really isn’t hard to give a firm handshake, and yet it is so important.
3) Don’t hide at meetings.
Make yourself known. Be present, be visible, and be heard. You will never get ahead if people don’t know that you even exist. Be the person that has a presence, and has an opinion. You were not hired by the company to not do anything. You were hired because you are intelligent, hard working, and you have an opinion that matters. So let it known.
4) Stand up while you speak.
Your voice is closely linked to your body and physicality. When you stand and gesticulate, you project more energy and dominance. By standing up, you can actually make your voice sound more authoritative. Try it out. Try standing up in meetings. Try standing up while you are on the phone. This is a small thing, but it can make a big difference.
5) Don’t turn statements into questions.
Never answer a question with a question. Tell people what you want. Do not ask what you want. By allowing the tone of your voice to rise at the end of a sentence, you subconsciously undermine your own authority by treating your statements as questions. This happens quite often. It’s a bad habit, and it must be broken. When somebody asks a question, give them a firm answer.
6) Don’t lead with a disclaimer.
Declare your thoughts without judgment and let others decide what they think. Don’t start off your sentences with “This may be stupid, but…,” or “This may not work…” Similar to the above, this is a bad habit that too many people do, often subconsciously. It sets a bad tone for your statements, and it allows you to be undermined immediately. Instead, just say what is on your mind, and believe in what you are saying. It is amazing what a difference that makes.
7) Learn to say “No.”
Be honest about your limitations. There is no point in trying to be good guy. Especially if it leads to bad work. If you are the person that allows others to hand their work off to you, stop it immediately. Stand up to other people in your workplace. People will respect you more for being honest rather than taking on too many assignments.
Interviews and Negotiations
In a one-on-one context, such as an interview or a negotiation, there are several interesting dynamics taking place. In both cases, you are trying to achieve a dominant position, and dictate the flow of conversation. This may seem difficult in an interview, where you are naturally in the submissive position, since you are the one that must impress the others in order to get the job you desire. But it doesn’t have to the be that way.
Your goal in an interview is to present yourself as somebody who is competent, ambitious, qualified, and a person the company absolutely must hire for that position. Your goal in a negotiation is to achieve the best outcome possible for your position, while also achieving a consensus that is fair for both parties.
But in both an interview or a negotiating situation something with someone, there are two things that you must convey: a) you are attentive and b) you are in control. First, you must let the other party know that you are listening, and you respect their opinions. Some typical signs and signals that a person is reflecting on their answer include:
Eyes look away and return to engage contact only when answering.
Finger stroking on chin.
Hand to cheek.
Head tilted with eyes looking up.
Second, you must show that you know what you’re talking about, and you are in control. You can achieve this physically by doing several motions:
Keep your hands on the table, not below the table.
Nod your head and engage eye contact.
Stand up from time to time to show comfortability and dominance
If possible, try to sit the right of your counterpart, as opposed to directly across from them (as normal)