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I'm working on a new book which I hope to announce soon.  It is entitled, "Morphing Into the Real World - The Handbook for Entering the Work Force," the purpose of which is to educate our youth in terms of making the transition from the safety of Mom and Dad and schools, to the bitter realities of the real world.  One of the key points I make time and again in the book is that people act on perceptions.  These perceptions could be based on reality or on something imagined.  In other words, we may perceive a situation correctly or incorrectly; right or wrong.

As a communications major, I understand the importance of how we transmit signals to others, thereby affecting their perceptions of us.  This can be done verbally, through writing and body language, the type of actions and decisions we make, and even our physical appearance.  I spend a lot of time in the book discussing the importance of these forms of communications.  For example, our youth are now wizards at electronic communications devices (e.g., cell phones, text messaging, e-mails) yet are having severe problems with simple interpersonal communications, such as greetings and common courtesy, conducting a presentation or giving a speech, interviewing, or holding a simple conversation.  "Networking" to Generation X and Y means text messaging, not socializing as a group.  It should therefore come as no small wonder that professional, civic, and fraternal societies are experiencing a decline in membership.

In terms of body language and actions/decisions, I discuss the importance of conveying the proper signals, as well as the impact of proper grooming and dress.  Let me give you an example, I know of an Army PFC who liked to drive around his military base in his pickup truck and proudly displayed a Confederate flag on the back.  Over time he noticed many of his friends graduated to Sergeant while he remained a PFC.  He didn't understand this as he thought he was smarter than the others.  Someone finally pulled him aside and told him to get rid of the Confederate flag, which he reluctantly did.  Shortly thereafter though, he was made a Sergeant.  In other words, he finally learned the hard way of the importance of cultivating the proper image.

One thing that is hard for our youth to grasp is the significance of our dress. Offices have become rather lax in their dress codes, perhaps overtly so.  When I discuss this issue with young people I tell them that our dress sends some very powerful messages.  More than anything, it is a sign of respect to the people we are coming in contact with, be it a boss, a coworker, a customer, or a vendor.  If someone dresses sloppily, they are basically saying, "I really do not care about you."  It also says a lot about our personal self-esteem.  Today, there is a big push for companies to promote teamwork and, because of this, they are rethinking dress code policies, some even going so far as to institute uniform programs.

Such lessons are simply not being passed on to our youth properly, all of which are having an adverse effect on their socialization skills in the workplace and questions their credibility as professionals.  In order for them to succeed in the work place, it is necessary they master these simple communications skills.  Regardless of the technical skills they possess, it will not help them alter the perceptions of the people they come in contact with daily. Simple communications will.

If you would like to discuss this with me in more depth, please do not hesitate to send me an e-mail.

Tim Bryce is a writer and management consultant located in Palm Harbor, Florida.

He can be contacted at:  timb001@phmainstreet.com

Copyright © 2008 Tim Bryce.  All rights reserved.

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