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Special section 6 ways to get ahead in the office or get out

If you're tired of getting treated like a young whippersnapper at work, learn to get their attention -- professionally and with style.

Moving up the ladder

Another note on body language: You're revealing more than just your confidence level in the way you move your body. Negative attitudes are hard to cover up just with good posture. If you're not taking clients seriously or are resentful of your boss, then body language can be sending a loud and clear message to them about how you feel. If this is true for you, find a way to improve your attitude or change your job.

Timing and planning will also improve your odds of being taken seriously. A few bosses might tolerate you running into their offices, spouting half-formed ideas off the top of your head. But if your boss is like mine, he or she doesn't have the time for that. A busy boss will appreciate efficiency nearly as much as good ideas.

Choose wisely
Now for the obvious question: Is your idea worth presenting? Especially if you're young or new on the job, you might want to make sure you're presenting a real winner of a proposal, says Marilyn Bedford, former executive director of Professional Development Program at Franklin College in Franklin, Ind. She says, "Assess and manage the risk. Ask yourself, 'Is this a good enough idea?'"

So when you have a proposal for the boss or anyone, to get your message across clearly, Warfield suggests framing your message by asking yourself serveral key questions.

Evaluating your ideas:
1. What do I want this person to be thinking about? What's the bottom line? Warfield says get to "the guts" of your message right away.
2. What's going to stop this person from listening? What objections will they have? Shatter them early, advises Warfield.
3. How can I support my message? Appeal to them logically or emotionally, says Warfield, whichever will work. Remember to use data, facts and examples to strengthen your message.
4. What's my call to action? What do I want this person to do in response to my idea or message?

Warfield also suggests trying to come from the other person's perspective. She explains, "Look at how does this adds value to the other person."

Think before you speak
Finally, before your next big meeting, take a look -- or more appropriately, a listen -- to how you talk, says Warfield. Do you phrase things with a question at the end? Do you fade off before you finish? Do you talk around the subject, boring your listeners before getting to your point? Bad communication skills could be causing your ideas to be misunderstood or just plain ignored.

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