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Relax, Be Yourself, and Smile

Submitted by Joseph S.

Relax, Be Yourself, and Smile! Simple as it may appear, this is very sound advice for today’s business students. Notice that it is today’s business students. This is very important, because modern trends toward globalization and hyper-competitiveness make the modern business world very different from that of our predecessors. Traps and pitfalls exist for the modern businessperson that simply did not exist a generation ago. A closer look shows that more often than not, simply having a correct frame of mind will allow one to avoid them. Relax, Be Yourself, and Smile will provide this frame of mind.

“So”, a student may ask, “What exactly are these traps and pitfalls lying in wait for the unwary businessperson?” “And how exactly will this advice help?” To answer this, one need only observe the rapid pace of globalization over the past several years, and the profound changes it has wrought. To name just a few of these changes, vastly increased exposure to unfamiliar cultures, tremendous pressure on nearly all business organizations to rapidly adapt to an ever-changing environment, and dealing with a media that has become incredibly efficient at disseminating information to the masses are now business norms. To use this author’s own organization as an example, a manager might communicate with a division head in Sao Paulo, a supplier in Shanghai, and a client in Berlin…all before noon! Imagine just twenty years ago…when receiving a phone call from a person half a world away was considered a big deal to most people.

Needless to say, this opens up a whole slew of potential problems. Speaking a phrase (or even making a gesture while participating a video-conference) that may be perfectly acceptable in one’s own culture might be offensive in others. Thanks to modern communication tools, it may not be long before everyone knows about such a gaffe, and business begins to suffer for it. Similarly, that new piece of organizational technology introduced today might be old news next week…and with organizations throughout the globe seeking to adapt to and capitalize upon it, perhaps it might even obsolete by next month. These are all stark realities that face a modern business organization.

“But then”, one might ask, “How does one ever deal with all this?” “After all, sometimes I don’t feel I understand some parts of my own organization and culture…much less those half a world away.” “How can one possibly be familiar with so many different cultures, and up-to-date on the activities of so many competing organizations around the globe as to be able to handle all of this?” Very valid questions! The answer is to Relax, Be Yourself, and Smile!

Remember…chances are the individuals whom one is communicating with will have the same concerns. Relax, and they will relax in turn…fostering ease of communication and the overcoming of barriers to it. Be yourself, and one comes across as genuine and honest to others…thereby allowing them to do the same, and fostering an atmosphere of mutual trust (and the enhanced communication ability this creates). And smile! As Carnegie pointed out so many years ago, this simple yet so highly underestimated act is unparalleled at making others feel at ease. Indeed, there is a great deal of meaning behind the term “Million-dollar smile!”

With Relax, Be Yourself, and Smile, one does not need to always know everything. Rather, one can effectively deal with (and capitalize upon) realities as they come. That potentially deal-killing gaffe will more likely be overlooked if the recipients know it was unintended, and an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect is in place. Even the most cleverly disguised potential competitive advantages can be seen when one is in the correct frame of mind to see them. Ultimately, omniscience is not necessary…and trying to achieve it will simply be an exercise in futility anyway. Far better to strive toward keeping a clear head on one’s shoulders instead.

So remember…the world facing today’s business students is vastly different from that of their predecessors. The pace of change is now so rapid that formerly ironclad realities are gone with the wind, and replaced by those undreamed of until recently. As omniscience is impossible, a calm and steady frame of mind is therefore essential for the modern business person. So remember to Relax, Be Yourself, and Smile…and thus find true success in the world today!

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