Career masterclass: Raise your status

How to cultivate a more powerful demeanor...

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Last Updated: 06 Nov 2012

Stop helping. There's a fine line between team player and office dogsbody. The next time someone (bar the MD) asks for a favour, say no. Be polite but give minimal explanation - they should know you have bigger fish to fry. And if they didn't, they do now.

Hone your delivery. Speak at a measured pace - gushing says 'green'; steady says 'shrewd' - and use fewer, better words. If there's a silence, don't fill it. Count to 10, then say: 'Everybody with me so far? Good.' You were just waiting for them to catch up.

Change your role. Don't compete with experts. If others know more than you, provide incisive summaries or ask challenging questions instead. There's more than one way to shine.

Adopt a cause. Stand for something and you'll stand out. Just make sure the project is worthwhile. A rebel without a meaningful cause is just a busybody.

Take the lead. Set the mood rather than be led by it. If others are sombre, bubble with enthusiasm; if they're irrationally ebullient, be the voice of reason. Whatever you do, don't follow.

Sparkle on stage. Presenting to a group can swell or shrink your status immediately. Choose one key message and keep it snappy and totally compelling. If you can, memorise your spiel. There's nothing high status about cowering behind cue cards.

Act proud. Look slightly above the people you are talking to as if the point you are making is more important than their reaction.

Be hard to please. Give your undivided attention when others are speaking but don't look impressed. Maintain a neutral expression, nod occasionally and limit your notetaking. Furious scribbling says: 'I'm the team scribe.'

Take criticism on the chin. High-status people have nothing to prove.

The Mind Gym: Relationships is published by Little, Brown at £12.99 - www.themindgym.com/books

Visit www.managementtoday.com/masterclass for further information about MindGym/MT masterclasses

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