By Peggy Noe Stevens
1. Audience – Always think of your audience and what might intimidate them. How comfortable do you want to make them feel? I know a high-powered female chief marketing officer who is truly a wonderful resource, a champion of women in business. She has an overwhelming amount of experience to share with others in regard to mentoring and career advancement. When she came to me, her issue was that she dressed so formally, with every hair numbered and in place (what I call the “everyday Wall Street” look), that the younger women were intimidated by her. Her workaholic personality and jet-set life showed in her appearance, and she actually became the last person other women would go to for advice, because they just didn’t feel comfortable around her. To them, she was untouchable.
2. Color – When you want to appear approachable, a simple trick is to wear colors (yes, there might be more than one) that match your eyes. When I ask clients what colors they see in their eyes, the response is usually only one color: brown, blue, or green. But then I ask him/her, “What other colors do you see—the specks throughout, the ones that are not so dominant? How about the ring around your pupil that defines your eye color? What shade of white are the whites of your eyes?” Then the gates open as people begin to describe in detail the other shades and colors they see. Following the psychology of this technique, when you want to appear more approachable, consider matching your wardrobe choice to your eye color.
3. Fabric – Always avoid clothes and fabrics that are too stiff and crisp. When trying to appear more approachable, try not to look over pressed; don’t give your shirts severe pointed collars and sharp edges. Use softer fabrics that drape, such as silk or poly blends, and try open collars and jackets, to accentuate your openness and bring out your lighter side.
4. Arrival – Arrive at least five minutes before the scheduled start. If you must be late, apologize briefly and be seated immediately. Keep personal articles to a minimum. Finally, enter slowly and with confidence, but do not draw too much attention to yourself.
5. Introductions – Limit the materials you carry with you, or bring something to carry them in so you are ready to shake hands. If time allows, introduce yourself to people you do not know both in the room and around the table at which you’re seated.
6. Physical stance – Recognize your physical stance and be sure your posture is confidently upright, not slouching with rolled shoulders (as if you dread making an entrance).