If you want to successfully manage your career, start with your desk, the state of your workspace says something about you. You can also learn about others from how they treat their space.
As women business leaders, we’d like to think we are judged primarily by our actions rather than our appearance – or the degree of organization (or lack thereof) in our offices. But study after study proves otherwise.
Impressions do matter, and that’s why many women business leaders give a lot of thought to their wardrobe and what messages their body language conveys. However, as workplace commentator Penelope Trunk noted in a recent BNET article, people make assumptions about us based on how our office looks too, even though that topic gets less attention.
And according to an expert Trunk cites, the conclusions we draw about people from the state of their workspace are fairly accurate. The news isn’t good for those who maintain a messy space; they are perceived more negatively than those who keep their workplace tidy.
But awareness about the messages we send via the stuff in our office provides an opportunity to control the image we’re conveying – and a way to pick up valuable clues about others:
- Clean up your act: If you have a messy desk, you may be firmly convinced that the disorder doesn’t impede your productivity. But fair or not, it still sends the wrong message.
- Learn about others by assessing their workspaces: Trunk notes that it’s easier to create a positive first impression with stylish clothing than to “fake” orderliness – even in the short term. Since research shows impressions gathered from office space tidiness tend to be accurate, use it as a tool.
- Discover more about yourself by evaluating your office clutter: Self-knowledge is a key element of success. Think about what the state of your office may reveal about you, then accentuate the positive traits or work on improving the negative.
- Use clues you pick up from office items as a communication tool: An ability to read people is a valuable business skill. Use your impressions to learn more about the person with whom you’re communicating, especially if you’ve just met.
The bottom line? Whether unintentional or by design, the way we handle our workspace sends a message. By being aware of this, you can make sure your space sends the right message and use the knowledge gained by assessing others’ offices to your advantage.
Read Penelope’s entire article, Managing Your Career By Managing the Stuff on Your Desk | BNET.