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Make it Acceptable! Let Your Personal Brand Shine Through

Mary Rosenbaum | May 12th, 2011

Do you find yourself trying to fit some mental image you have of who you should be and how you should behave at work? I am not talking about behavior that is not acceptable in the world at large but rather some stereotype you have in your own head. I am talking about situations like being afraid to talk to colleagues about aspects of your life outside of work or avoiding language that make you seem too soft or feminine?

Let’s take the second example. It is common in business to use metaphors based on sports or combat. Target, bull’s eye, winning team, rally the troops, getting to first base, striking out, combat escalating costs, how you play the game, playbook, running interference, smooth sailing, team building, a level playing field, coaching, the war for talent. I know there are a lot more but what I am trying to show is that the use of these words has become normal in everyday business. And my question is, who determines what is normal or acceptable?

We do. The more we use these metaphors and language or the more we repeat behavior the more universally accepted and expected they become.

I attended a breakfast event this morning by the New York Women’s Foundation. It was a wonderful event that celebrated the successes of a variety of organizations and individuals dedicated to improving the current and future lives of girls and women.

One of the speakers, Jennifer Buffet, gave a wonderful talk describing her journey into the world of making a difference. She used words like nurturing, caring, loving, defining, fulfilling. In fact, she mentioned that when she asked others for advice while preparing her speech, she was told to eliminate many of those “soft, feminine, emotional” words in favor of more powerful ones that would “charge up” her listeners so they would reach for their checkbooks.

Rather than project an image in the way others thought she should through her use of language, Ms. Buffet decided to be who she was instead. She has a strong personal brand and it really came through. Her message, her authenticity and her honesty was what made the attendees reach for their checkbooks.

The same holds true for you. Being authentic, whether it’s telling stories at work about your kids or talking about how moved you were by an event you attended or how proud you were when you ran in the marathon, you are setting the terms for what is acceptable and for what can be expected. And being authentic and honest is how you can more easily connect and form relationships that enable you to do the work you do.

So you know the formula, acceptance is based on repetition. The more you allow your personal brand some breathing room and exposure, the more authentic you come across, and the more acceptable your actions and your words.

I would love to hear about some of your past and present SHOULD’s. Have you let your personal brand shine through?

Utilizing her experience of over 25 years Mary Rosenbaum empowers careerists and entrepreneurs to gain greater clarity and more effectively communicate their unique promise of value. Strong leadership means leading with your strengths. Get her free report Top Strategies for Getting Visible and Getting Ahead.

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