Beware your credibility blind spots. These bad behaviors may be unintentional, but they derail your professional image. They are off-putting to everyone … but you.
The good news is that once you uncover your blind spots, you can undo them. And in today’s highly competitive workplace, where even small stuff can make a big difference, the time to do this is now.
So how can you see your own blind spots? The surest way is to capture yourself on video in a typical business setting. (Smartphones now make this easier than ever.) And while there are numerous behaviors to look for, seven blind spots are most common.
1. Using speech fillers
Speech fillers are superfluous sounds or words, like “um” and “you know.” Today, such fillers are pervasive in our culture, including the business world. A smart, young technology CEO recently said to his team, “So, I actually sort of passionately believe that we have an opportunity to, uh, you know, sort of really take this platform to a new level. So we just kind of, uh, need to jump in, you know, with full force.” He wanted to fire up his people, but his fillers extinguished his passion.
2. Making extraneous movements
Extraneous movements—such as jiggling your knee, bobbing your head, or shifting your weight—weaken your personal power. You might say, “I can’t help myself. I just can’t be still.” Truth is, excessive fidgeting is a self-comforting behavior. Stillness sends a message that you’re calm and confident.
When you feel self-conscious, it’s easy to overreact to your every mistake. If you trip over a word, you might apologize (“Sorry!”), make a joke (“No more coffee for me”), or resort to nonverbal reflexes, like shaking your head or shrugging your shoulders. The problem with this “self-commenting” is your external preoccupation with your internal criticism. Mistakes happen; simply correct them and move on.
4. Misplacing upward vocal inflections
You probably work with someone who speaks in “up talk”: using upward inflections that sound like question marks at the end of sentences. This vocal pattern is widespread—and contagious. Be vigilant in not picking it up.
5. Making yourself smaller
If you’re like most people, when you feel intimidated, you make yourself smaller to avoid being an easy target. You might place your feet closer together, tuck your