Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Basics: What You Need to Succeed

No matter your situation, whether you are traveling through a foreign country, traversing the corporate culture, or pulling yourself up from a difficult financial/social/emotional problem, you really only need the basics to survive. You don't need a Mercedes, posh address, or lots of money in order for others to help you succeed at your goals, get that job you are after, or have people offer you things just out of the goodness of their heart. Like it or not, people judge you immediately on your appearance and next on your social skills. Would you help out someone who smells, looks like hell, has a crappy attitude, and basically doesn't care about themselves? Probably not. How about the person with the following attributes?

  • Good hygiene. A shower with soap is all you need. Deodorant is also a good thing. You don't need five kinds of body wash or $30 shampoo to be clean. It is amazing how many people live in tin shacks with no running water in third world countries yet they keep themselves clean and presentable at all times.
  • Clean clothes. A person shows how they feel about themselves by how they dress. Again, you don't need to go to Saks to buy super expensive clothes in order to look good. You can go to the Goodwill, pick out a couple of nice ensembles (if you are clothing-challenged, bring a friend with a good sense of style) and make sure they are cleaned and ironed each time you wear them. This is also very common even in poor countries--clothes are washed by hand, hung out to dry, then ironed to perfection and the person looks like a million dollars.
  • Good manners. This skill is sadly lacking in many pockets of society these days. Here's what grandma repeated time and time again in reference to manners: stand up straight, don't slouch, look people in the eye, acknowledge people with a smile like you are happy to see them, have a firm handshake, arms off the table, don't chew with your mouth open, don't interrupt people when they are speaking, don't gossip, be honest, say please, say thank you, talk don't yell, treat others like you want to be treated.
  • Good attitude. Be happy, be positive, and have a "can-do" attitude. Being grumpy, snipey, manipulative, and complaining incessantly is no way to win friends and influence people. Be accepting of others, helpful, and non-judgemental.

Those are the basics to being accepted basically anywhere on the planet.

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