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Living In Balance Magazine

The Etiquette Advantage in Business: Personal Skills for Professional Success. Peggy Post, Peter Post (Harper Resources, 1999)

Simple Abundance. Sarah Ban Breathnach (Warner Books, 1995)

Spiritual Serendipity. Richard Eyre (Fireside, 1999)

Handbook to Higher Consciousness. Ken Keyes, Jr. (LLB, 1975)

 

In ancient mythologies charis, more commonly known as grace, invoked beauty, kindness, delight, compassion, and caring. Interestingly, this is the root of the word charisma. While the contemporary concept of charisma can bring to mind the magnetic charm of a movie actor or politician, in today’s high tech/high speed economy, being a charismatic business leader is more critical and more challenging than ever before.

The leader of a company, division, board, or organization needs to compel people to follow. Adding true grace to charisma in business leadership will get extraordinary results. The keys to leadership success include being an extraordinary person full of compassion, kindness, and delight (full of grace), and rewarding employees or co-workers for the same qualities. This will inspire attention, increase employee retention, improve customer loyalty, and create a more profitable bottom-line.

A business leader must move through the work environment—no, let’s make it even bigger—life in a different more graceful way.

The question is, “How do I do that? How can I be extraordinary and make others feel that way, too?” The answer is as simple as 1-2-3:

1.    Use grace in verbal and non-verbal communication.

When you treat others with grace, you say, “I respect you” and that is a tremendous foundation on which to build any relationship. The following are a few ideas of how being graceful in our communications and interactions with others can have a deep impact.

Idea: As you walk through the door, look the receptionist directly in the eye, connect with her or him (non-verbally) by nodding your head, smiling and (verbally) warmly saying, “Good morning.” When you set the example of how to warmly greet another, you have modeled the way you’d like every company visitor and employee to be greeted.

Idea: Whether you are at a business-networking event or sitting around the dinner table with your family, truly listen to the conversation. You can listen with your whole body: physically face the person, watch them with your eyes as they speak, nod your head as you follow the conversation, and be totally present with them while you are in dialogue. There is nothing as ungraceful and counterproductive as a person only pretending to be interested in what you are saying. If you can’t “be there” no matter what the reason, excuse yourself. Simply say, “Please excuse me, I have so much on my mind…could we have this conversation at another time?”

2.    Move slowly, move gracefully.

You may think moving slower is impossible (or even a crazy idea) for it seems to go directly against all the pushes and pulls being made on you. But, consider the fact that moving slower will set you apart from the crowd and will actually attract people and business to you. The following ideas may help to bring this idea into clearer focus.

Idea: Arrive ten minutes early for every appointment. You’ll be at the restaurant with a table ready for your guest. Your demeanor will be calm and relaxed, exuding an air of success and “I’ve got my life/business together.” You will have time to ponder what you want to accomplish at the meeting. You are in control. On the flip side, picture yourself, ten minutes late, making excuses and apologizing. Who would you rather do business with? This graceful approach is a powerful magnet.

Idea: Create space so you can move slower by eliminating energy drains. Look over the list of things you are committed to doing and eliminate at least a third. You say, “Impossible!” Let me ask you this question: “Are you doing things well and up to your high standards or, are you falling further behind?” Simplifying will create the space you need to move slowly, deliberately, and gracefully through life. Remember, you get no prizes for doing things in a mediocre fashion. Another outcome of creating this space in your life is opening space for creative ideas to bubble up and get noticed.” These new ideas will create more success with ease.

3.   Be an extraordinary person doing extraordinary

People think that little things no longer matter, but they couldn’t be more wrong. By paying attention to little details, you send a big message… and the message you’re sending is, “You are important.” And everybody likes to feel important!

Idea: Take five minutes each day and send someone a hand-written note. Buy yourself a roll of stamps and several boxes of professional thank-you note cards; put one box in your desk, one in your briefcase, and one in your car. During a wait at the light, or delay in meeting time, or waiting at the dentist’s office, make use of the time. Each day acknowledge someone; it could be a client, co-worker, child, or parent. Consider this: if you did this each day for a year, you would have made 365 people feel special. And how are they going to feel about you? My guess is that they’re thinking you’re pretty special, too! And don’t tell me that you don’t have five minutes.

Take a moment and think what it would be like to be the receptionist at your company and receive the following note.

Dear Chris,

Every day when I walk through the front door, you smile and greet me. Even when I have a lot on my mind and might appear grumpy, you cheerfully start my workday. I can only imagine what a positive impact you are having on our customers.

Thank you for making this a better place to come to work each day and a company that people want to support!

With Gratitude,

Terry Smythe

With one small graceful gesture, Terry has just made an impact that is going to pay the company dividends for years to come. Terry’s job with these thank-you notes is to “catch” people doing things right and to acknowledge them for their good works. Don’t make things up; be honest and sincere in your notes. You just have to notice. Another note could be as simple as…

Dear Pat,

You ran a wonderful sales meeting yesterday. Thank you for modeling the way a meeting can be efficiently conducted.

Sincerely,

Terry Smythe

So how long did that take to write? Thirty seconds? And, what impact could that thirty-second note have on this business relationship? It is impossible to measure, and I’d venture a guess that the impact could be profound. Worth the effort? You bet!

Idea: Surround yourself with beauty. It may seem trivial, but having beautiful things within eye and earshot can lift the spirit and mood. Try this test: Add something that you find beautiful to your office; it could be a vase of fresh flowers, an impressionist painting, added color to an otherwise dreary room, listening to music from a portable CD player, opening your blinds so you can drink in the outdoors. This expression of beauty will lift your spirit as you experience it during your workday. Encourage your employees to participate in the same exercise of incorporating beauty into their work environment. Notice the change in attitude of employees, clients, and vendors. By adding beauty and grace to the workplace you are sending the message, “We are a different kind of company, the kind you want to work for and do business with!”

Grace is a simple quality that can be easily and inexpensively incorporated into your life. Your charismatic and graceful leadership can have immediate impact on both productivity and the attitudes of your employees and customers. When people, both customers and employees, feel honored they naturally want to give more. More can mean an increase in customer loyalty or a more genuine effort to accomplish the company’s goals. Over the long term, as these factors manifest in your business, they will result in higher employee retention and more business; both positively impact the bottom-line. Even more important than the increased revenue, adding grace will influence the way you feel about you.

Melinda Vilas is an author, workshop leader, and public speaker helping individuals and organizations incorporate grace into their workplace and life. She is also founder of www.teencoach.com. Reach her at melinda@livinginbalancemagazine.com or visit www.melindavilas.com.

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