How to Make a Good Impression at Work

Zebra Pen gel pens posed nex to notebook and coffee top down image

Hard work is usually recognized, but even productive, engaged employees feel lost in the crowd sometimes. In a busy work environment where everyone pulls their weight, how do you stand out in a good way?

Piling on overtime will likely get you noticed, but for many people work-life balance gets difficult to maintain when working beyond 40-50 hours a week. If you’re hoping for a promotion or simply want to make a good impression on your manager, these easy tips will make a big difference without the mental overload.

Ask for Feedback

Most managers juggle multiple responsibilities. Even if they have the best intentions, they may not remember to compliment your latest report or send pointers for your upcoming sales pitch.

Be proactive! Reach out to your boss and ask for feedback. Remember to respect their time and be specific – Instead of a general “How am I doing?” request a review of a particular project you’ve recently completed, or ask for advice on how to improve a crucial skill. Call, email, or set up an appointment, just use the preferred method of communication between you.

They’ll appreciate your interest in self growth, and you’ll show them you value their opinion. It’s a win-win.

Use Professional Gear

Dress to impress is common advice, but you may not realize the same concept applies to office supplies. Ditch the basic pens and composition books from your school days and upgrade to something more professional.

The smooth, fast-drying Zebra STEEL G-350 Gel Retractable Pen is a cost-effective place to start. It writes like a dream with ultra-smooth gel ink that doesn’t smear or smudge, plus the sturdy metal barrel stands up to long days at the office. If you’re feeling extra fancy, take it to the next level with the even sleeker STEEL G-450 or the ultimate STEEL G-750. A leather-bound or hardcover notebook completes the picture.

Remember that screens can be distracting. Unless you need to access your laptop for a meeting, bringing your professional-quality pen and paper instead will show you’re there to listen. Likewise, if you are meeting remotely, try sitting away from your keyboard and mouse. Take notes on action items and important talking points, and don’t be afraid to ask the presenter to pause on a slide or repeat a key phrase.

Another pro tip? Always carry an extra pen. When a coworker or manager needs to borrow one, you’ll be well prepared, and you’ll get brownie points for having something worthy of your profession.

Study Your Industry

Reading books, blogs, and white papers about your industry will show your managers you are motivated to stay on top of trends and new technology. Or, if you don’t like to read, watch videos, listen to podcasts, or enroll in online courses. Many resources are available for free.

While you don’t want to flood your boss or coworkers with suggestions, when you come across a particularly helpful or relevant piece of content, share it! Offer a summary of the main points, provide a link to the source material, and add your own insight on how the information you’ve learned relates to your business.

Stay Cool

Tensions often run high in a busy office. You may be stressed out over tight deadlines when your manager drops yet another high priority task in your lap. You may be dealing with differing opinions on which direction to take a new initiative you’re driving. Or you may find your work style clashes with a coworker on a joint project. Whatever the case, you’re feeling frustrated and tempted to say – or type – a few choice words.

If you’re in a meeting or a one-on-one conversation and you feel your temper rise, take a deep breath. Ask for a minute to collect your thoughts. Try to speak calmly and logically instead of emotionally. Don’t make a discussion an argument, and if you feel that’s what it’s turning into, ask for more than a minute. Be honest. Say you need time to think so you can provide a productive response.

If you receive a challenging email or text, take some time to cool down before you reply. Write out your thoughts in a Word or Google document, take a half hour to work on something else, then come back to it. Chances are you’ll have some edits.

You should be able to express your opinions openly, as long as you do so professionally. Be assertive, not aggressive, and treat your coworkers and managers with respect. This will earn you respect in turn.

Watch the Clock

We don’t mean to count the hours until Friday. Everyone runs late on occasion, but punctuality is a plus in any workplace.

Show up for meetings on time. If you’re running the meeting, start and end on time as well. When it’s your turn to speak in a group setting, try to consolidate your comments and be conscientious of the fact that your coworkers may also need a few minutes to express their opinions. Don’t take up more than your fair share, and don’t bring up subjects that don’t apply to most of the attendees.

The same concepts apply to emails and messages. Organize your thoughts and try to write clearly and concisely, and make sure all the recipients should be included on the thread. When in doubt, ask. If you aren’t sure, send your manager a quick note asking if they want to be CC’d on emails relating to a project. They’ll be happy you took the time to ask, whether the answer is yes or no.