Pick up your feet
I don't like being late, even to parties. If someone tells me it starts at 7:00 p.m. you can bet money that I will be there at 7:00 p.m. (if not 10 minutes beforehand). When I was in college I carefully planned out my schedule to ensure that I would be on time for any activity. I knew exactly how long I had to walk from one class to the next and made sure everything was planned as meticulously as possible so that I could get (most) all of my classes done in the beginning of the day, which would leave my afternoons for studying. I walked with such purpose to each class because 1) I was determined to walk to every class and not take the bus 2) I hated being late to anything.
One of my guy friends noticed me walking across the Michigan State campus one day and started making fun of me when our group of friends got together for dinner that evening. He joked that he was worried I was too concentrated on where I was going that I would inevitably slip or run into something because I only had one path: Get straight to class. He then teased about the pace and frequency at which I swung my arms when I walked, commenting that I might smack someone in the face if I wasn't careful. While everything he said was hilarious, I couldn't help but think to myself, "I like being at school. I like what I'm doing. I like getting to class on time. Anyone who shuffles their entire way to class is clearly not excited about what they are doing." And I have continued to think similar thoughts as I watch colleagues shuffle their feet from meeting to meeting in the workplace.
Every company is different, something that you learn to appreciate when working as a consultant. But there is one thing that is always the same: There is a group of people that hate their jobs, have a low level of motivation, and you can see boredom and carelessness seeping from their pores. It is apparent from the way they respond to questions all the way to manner in which they walk to and from a meeting. This comes back to body language, appearance and how you present yourself - it all matters. Let's see why:
1) You look lazy
Your company is literally handing you money to show up every day and complete specific tasks. When you can't even muster up the energy to pick up your feet, you look lazy, as if you had zero care in the world about the success of the company. Think about it: If you are struggling to move forward down the hallway of the building, how much effort are you really going to put into solving the company's problems and taking them to the next level?
2) Do you even care?
As a manager, when we are working to resolve an issue on the project I want to know that everyone is going to put their best foot forward (pun intended) to get the issue resolved as quickly as possible. When we assign tasks, put our hands in the middle and say, "Go Team", I literally expect you to move your ass and get sh*t done. When you slowly stand up at the conference table, gather your items at a glacial pace, and scuff your feet as you move out of the room, I ask myself one of two things (depending on your personality): "Is something wrong?" or "Do you even care?". Never think that your daily movements go unnoticed by your boss. They can and they will impact their perception of you.
3) Where is the confidence?
Whether you are looking to move up in the organization or simply come to work to complete your job every day, you can and should show others that you have the confidence and capabilities to complete your tasks on time and with great quality. When you walk into a room with your shoulders back, your head held high, and a smile on your face you have this je-ne-sais-quoi about you that yells, "Hey! I'm here. I've got what it takes. Let's make this happen!". When you sit up straight in your chair, look others in the eye as you respond, speak at a normal level, you appear confident.
I don't want to hand a task to someone slouched in their chair with their head down and who mumbles every word out of their mouth. Why? Because they do not appear confident enough to do anything but physically be. How can I trust that I won't have to handhold them throughout the entire process? I can't, which is why most managers tend to look elsewhere and overload other employees they know they can trust.
If you want more responsibility, more money, a better position, then I strongly encourage you to take a look at yourself. What are you communicating to others with your non-verbal body language? What are you saying to them the moment you step foot in the room? Start showing others and your boss that you are motivated, attentive, responsible, capable, and confident. Sometimes there is a reason you aren't being promoted - it's because you can't even bother to pick up your feet.
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