Call me an alarmist, but reading this column could be dangerous to your career health.
In the next few paragraphs, I am going to reveal secrets so powerful that you will no longer be able to hide in obscurity. It’s true! People will not only notice you; they will not be able to forget you. They won’t be able to resist you, either, so if you do decide to continue reading, promise me that you’ll never use your newfound powers for evil.
No, I haven’t been nipping at the toner cartridges again. These super-powerful secrets come from an unimpeachable source — Dale Carnegie Training. They’re the selfless individuals who sent me a copy of “Make Yourself Unforgettable: How to Become the Person Everyone Remembers and No One Can Resist.”
Before you get all huffy, I do want to acknowledge that you have already achieved a degree of being memorable among your co-workers. No one who saw your boogaloo at the office Christmas party in 2004 will ever forget the experience. It’s seared into their brains like a red-hot branding iron. But you also have to acknowledge something: as unforgettable as you are, you are not irresistible. Even when you are at your most persuasive — crying, beseeching and turning yourself into a sniveling mass of human marmalade — many people will still not do your bidding.
But that’s all going to change, if you adopt the No. 1 secret to making yourself unforgettable and irresistible. In a word, you gotta have “class.” What is class? It’s more than wiping the spaghetti sauce off your chin before coming into the big meeting. It’s “a unique energy that makes people truly unforgettable.”
Of course, there’s no sense in becoming a class act if you can’t communicate your class to the mass. According to your cronies at Carnegie, that requires optimism. “Pessimism has no class,” they assert. “An unforgettable person looks beyond any current situation to imagine a better time.”
It’s true, too. No one will remember the person who announces that “sales are in the toilet; our competitors are eating our lunch; our product doesn’t work; and we’re six months behind on the rent. It’s only a matter of time before we’re out of business.”
But I promise that you will be unforgettable if you make the exact same statement and then follow up with: “but that will give us more time at home to watch ‘Bad Girls Club.'”
Another aspect to being a classy lassie or laddie is the way you dress. “Do you regard looking well-groomed and well-dressed as a bother or an opportunity?” the book asks. “Are you congruent to or divergent from the image of your company or organization?”
Call me divergent, but I disagree. While it would make a classy impression to arrive at work in a spiffy new Armani suit or drenched with Lady Gaga perfume, you could also give management the impression that they are paying you way too much. Since they already know you are doing way too little, the result may make you the most unforgettable class act on the unemployment line.
Another critical part of making a memorable impression is the way that people rate your intellectual abilities. Citing research results, the authors write that first impressions are often based on “assessment of the newcomer’s intelligence.”
Their lesson here is “most people are uncomfortable with geniuses,” which is really good news for you. Anyone who has observed you at work would conclude that you’re not a genius or you don’t have an IQ higher than a jelly donut. No wonder you have gotten so far!
It’s also important to remember names. “Use the name in conversation so that you don’t forget” is the specific advice here. For example, you might say, “Miranda is a lovely name, Miranda. I had a pet goldfish named Miranda, Miranda. I wish you could have met Miranda, Miranda, before she got swim bladder disorder and I had to flush Miranda.” But do be careful — this device is somewhat less effective if you’re not talking to someone named Miranda.
And by all means, “maintain eye contact,” because “breaking eye contact with a speaker sends a negative or even a hostile message.” So, keep that bug-eyed stare at full laser intensity from the moment you see a manager or colleague until the moment they go running out of the room.
You’ll be considered weird, creepy and will probably be fired, but I promise that you will be unforgettable.
Bob Goldman has been an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company in the San Francisco Bay Area. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at firstname.lastname@example.org.