How to be taken seriously in the workplace

(3min read)

I used to love BBC's The Apprentice. It began as a fresh and optimistic format that was all about innovative thinking, teamwork and the odd laugh or two.

Fast forward six years and the show has now become a parody of itself, churning out a conveyor belt of characters that I wouldn't like to share a train ride with let alone an office space. The Apprentice is now our annual reminder of how you shouldn't conduct yourself in a professional environment (with the exception of a talented few - here's looking at you Bianca and Mark). 

With the popular reality show returning to UK screens on Oct 6th, I thought there was no better time to provide you with my top tips on how to be taken seriously in the workplace.

You're hired...I mean, you're welcome.

5. Testing, testing, 1, 2, 3...

Having to set up that conference call? It’s a test. Asked to stay back an extra hour to run through a presentation? Test. Selected by your seniors to call a key account to ask if they'd like to make the round trip to your office instead for that big meeting? Testy-test-test.

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Quite often what you’re being assessed on isn’t even the end result, it's your response to the assignment. Your composure under pressure, charm and guile when faced with conflict: these are things that should take precedence over your choice of Powerpoint slide transition.

4. Indispensable is indefensible

You know who doesn’t get taken seriously? The guy who takes on every banal task in the office in order to prove just how essential he is. That guy will likely have his first heart attack at 35. I imagine it feels important to have a constant stream of people beating down your door, however it’s less enriching if your colleagues only queued up because the copier broke or the kitchen is out of milk. Rather than being the jack-of-all-trades, figure out your company’s weakness and focus there. Get good at what everyone else isn’t good at.

3. Don't fold

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The most effective way to be taken seriously is to be seen as a person who follows through on what they say. If you declare you’re going to do something, do it. Forget giving reasons for why you failed. If you want to be the ‘go-to’ guy or girl, don’t come up short. Be on time to those important appointments, deliver the project on its due date, and be prepared to present like you’re giving your TED Talk.

Speaking of TED Talks...

2. Can you repeat that please?

Have you ever felt like you're talking, but nobody is listening? In this video, Julian Treasure helps you remedy that. In a video that's had over 12m views, the sound expert demonstrates some useful vocal exercises and shares tips on how to speak with empathy, he offers his vision for a sonorous world of listening and understanding. I hope that came through.

1. Look the part.

Please don't sigh. You knew this was going to be the number one tip. A person is judged within nanoseconds simply because of the way they dress for work, on a date or to worship their deity.
 
The key part here is to do your research. 

I remember turning up to a job interview for a construction site surveyor role in a suit and tie.

No.

Another time I interviewed at a tech start-up in a tweed blazer and bow-tie.

No, no, no.

Coupled with your attire is your body language. Many a time, the way we carry ourselves is a reflection of our self-esteem (or lack of). Check out this 2min video about the power of body language: it doesn’t just affect how others see you, it changes how you see yourself.

Posted by Richard Etienne.