Business Perspectives

The art of public relations and image

Two weeks ago I wrote about the art of communication in the workplace. But, that is only one aspect of communication that is important. Another component of successful communication in the workplace involves the art of public relations and image that enhances success in any work environment.

Our ability to impress our customers, our clients, makes or breaks our business, whether it be a commercial enterprise, a dental practice or a church. I am referring to our ability to demonstrate the quality of what we do every day and the sincerity of effort that drives what we do in the long term.

If the services that we provide are of the highest quality, and we demonstrate the knowledge and skill that is necessary to assure the public that we are capable of maintaining that quality, then we should do well. Right?

I have emphasized the word should in the sentence above. The reason? There are many people in businesses or practices who possess the knowledge and skill to be successful but who do not succeed because of the image they portray.

How do we achieve the level of success that we dream of? The processes involved in enhancing our professional image and the art of public relations involves communication at one of its highest levels.

This list offers suggestions that will assist in building a good professional image and in building excellent public relations for one’s business or practice:

The Art of Image Building

▪ No matter how bad the day, don’t take it out on your customers or associates by telling them about it.

▪ Be appropriate in all behaviors—no off-color jokes or remarks, no matter how innocent they appear to you.

▪ Be pleasant, be a genuinely good person, be empathetic, be nice.

▪ Be a good ambassador to your profession.

▪ If a client comes to you wanting their money returned or making some other demand, no matter what the reason, think: If I were the client or the customer, how would I want this handled? How would I respond if that person was my relative or my friend? Then, handle it that way.

▪ Always remember this rule: We are here to serve, not to judge.

▪ Work hard to be a flexible and creative problem-solver.

▪ Affirm your commitment to serving people and how much you enjoy the opportunity.

▪ Listen carefully and quietly to what the other person is saying, no matter how urgently you want them to know that you already have the solution to their problem.

▪ When listening, never look at your watch!

▪ Be empathetic, but never respond by saying, “I know just how you feel,” unless you have experienced what the other person is expressing.

▪ Remember to speak at a slightly slower rate than your usual speed of speech. You will be much more easily understood.

▪ When you slow your rate of speech, a natural result is that you will articulate the sounds of speech with greater clarity.

▪ Maintain good eye contact, but do not stare at the person you are speaking with. For best eye contact, concentrate on the other person’s nose. Do not look into their eyes. That level of intimacy is not appropriate unless you intend to ask the person to marry you!

▪ Remember what Sam Walton taught us: “There is only one boss – the customer.”

Sam Walton’s three rules for success in business:

▪ Rule No. 1: The customer is always right.

▪ Rule No. 2: The customer is always right.

▪ Rule No. 3: The customer is always right.

Ray H. Hull is a professor of communication sciences and disorders at Wichita State University. His new book with Jim Stovall, "The Art of Learning and Self-Development: Your Competitive Edge," recently was released.

Interested in writing for “Business Perspectives”? Contact Marcia Werts at mwerts@wichitaeagle.com or 316-269-6762.

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