As the weather hots up make sure your name is on everyone’s lips, from your smooth conversational style to your unique fashion flair.
What have you planned for Bosses Day on 13th October?
Give your boss the ultimate gift –
a Personalised Image Consultation.
Contact us for further details:
Tel: 011 467 5126     Email: prof–
The Fine Art of Small Talk
Small talk is often perceived as aimless or inferior to “real conversation”.

It is neither, for without the prelude of small talk acting as an icebreaker “real” conversations would never start. Small talk helps cement the foundations of strong relationships.
By learning the art of small “talk” you can make others feel valued, included and comfortable in your presence. In this way you foster better relationships, close more deals and make more friends.
  • Practise initiating conversation – you are going to have to learn to speak to strangers! In a safe situation – strangers can become potential clients, best friends or a future spouse…Begin at the post office queue or frozen vegetable aisle.
  • Don’t wait to be introduced – you could wait all night! Introduce yourself. Be consoled, others are as petrified as you and by taking the initiative they will be grateful to you.
  • Make sure you have an appropriate self–intro – “ a soundbyte ” that makes others interested in listening and speaking to you further.
  • Do give your name even to those that you might have met before. It saves them the embarrassment if they have forgotten it.
  • Have a store of appropriate ice breaking questions that you can use to get conversation going eg “What got you started in this industry/profession?” “What do you enjoy the most about being a doctor/salesman/PA?” “Thandiwe, what a pretty name – what is its meaning?”
  • Use the person’s name in conversation–make sure you pronounce it right – its one of their most valuable possessions.
  • If you have forgotten their name, own up rather than pretending or faking it. “Sorry I didn’t hear your name properly”.
  • Use statements that invite a response “It’s been a great conference–what sessions have you enjoyed so far?”
  • Avoid close ended questions–instead use open ended questions that will require more than a word answer eg “I had a fantastic weekend–I went skiing at the Vaal – what did you do?”
  • Venturing into a tight group can be very daunting. Hover at the fringes and listen closely to the speaker, ease slowly into the group showing your interest. Find a point of agreement to make “I agree with you the petrol price decrease is sure to impact on interest rate hikes”.
  • By mirroring the body language, tone of voice , word choices even energy levels of the group you are talking to – you will make yourself “one of them” rather than an outsider.
  • Listen, really listen to pick up clues about others interests and passions, so you can steer the conversation to include them more.
  • Start a conversation with someone that appears approachable. Did they smile at you, make eye contact? – Great they’re the one! Nobody smiling? – Why don’t you smile? We guarantee 90% of people will smile back…. Then you are well on your way.
  • Keep the tone of communication positive – steer away from the doom and gloom. Having a conversation with you should make people feel energised and positive.
  • Golden rules: don’t complain, don’t dominate, don’t interrupt, don’t give away all your secrets, don’t interview them, don’t put someone down, actively listen, match their pace!
  • Keep up to date with current events in the world and in your industry – read industry journals, listen to news head lines etc. you will then appear well informed and up to date.
  • When someone else joins a conversation, update them on what you were discussing and invite them to share their views. This will make them feel accepted.
  • Don’t get into a comfort zone. Move around, don’t get stuck with one group of people. Don’t hang around the buffet table, bar or toilets. Check that your body language is approachable.
  • Conclude the conversation on a positive note/action plan. “I am so pleased to have met you – “I will e–mail that article by tomorrow”.
What does not work..What works…
Don’t beat around the bushBeing direct
Being vague, unclear, using generalities – “ You never…”Being specific, clear in message
Focusing on personality “You are really lazy ”Focusing on behaviour
“Your client reports are not up to date”
Telling person what to doAsking for what you require

The more you expose yourself to small talk, the easier it will become and the more your sphere of influence in your personal and professional life will grow.
What you don’t know can destroy your career.

Let us guide you through the fundamentals and finer points of business etiquette, equipping you to become a ’mover and shaker’ in a way that is dynamic and relevant to today’s working world.
For more information on our Power Etiquette corporate workshops, please contact us
Tel: 011 467 5126    email: prof–
Summer Savvy
Step into Summer with feminity and a palette of whimsical colours.
“Fashion can be bought, style one must possess.”
Edna Woolman Chase
Top themes:
  • Modern Romantic – fresh, delicate, floating –chiffon, lace. Floral bloom prints abound. Delicate ruffles, frills, bows, crochet, beading and embroidery detailing. Not from head to toe for office – eg combine a romantic ruffle shirt with crisp tailored suit. Make sure that you do not wear see–through fabrics at work.
  • Preppy College – Cotton, linen fabrics, tailored blazers. Stripes cover everything from dresses to pedal pushers in red, navy and white combinations. Do not place a horizontal stripe over an area you do not want to appear wider or bigger eg over large bust, wide hips. Try a navy bermuda short suit worn with a crisp red and white striped shirt. Remember the micro shorts are not for the office even if you have great legs!
  • Fifties Flashback – Flared, full and pencil waist cinching skirts. If wearing a fuller skirt make sure you keep the top fitted. Pedal pushers, capri, super skinny legged pants abound–remember these add an element of casualness to your work outfit. The hottest print this season is the polka dot–use it sparingly and in a small scale at the office.
Summer Shades
  • The staple colour for summer– white. Take care not to place this colour over an area you do not want to make look bigger eg your bottom–it can be unforgiving. To prevent the white outfit from looking too clinical break up with a coloured scarf, shoe, belt. If white is not for you, use pearl or vanilla shades. Wear seamless, sheer nude coloured underwear when wearing these light shades and fabrics.
  • Monochrome–black and white combination–elegant and stylish.
  • Creative Colours– bright yellow and spicy orange. Lime green and alluring turquoise, strong cobalt, electric purple. For work always anchor solid brights with a neutral. Eg a turquoise top with a white suit.
  • Seeing red – wear it head to toe or as a splash (in a bag or sandals).
  • Metallic sheen–dull bronzes, pewter, silver, gold add a sophisticated glamour at night. For the day keep to a minimum.
Get the October Longevity magazine and see what colour can do
for you on page 42.
Artful Accessories
  • Supersize your sunglasses and handbags. Jackie O sunglasses, bags with charms and buckles are hot.
  • Wet look patent belts, clutch bags.
  • Corset type, skinny narrow, satin ribbon belts worn over everything – more flattering on the long waisted and the hourglass and pear shaped.
  • Canvas, leather, raffia, straw and wood textures abound.
  • Natural canvas or rope wedges; flat pumps in candy colours; patent glossy shoes in bright crayon shades; wooden vintage chunky heels.
Top must–haves:
  • The dress–whether a trench coat type, shirt styled or the flattering wrap dress. This black and white, polka dot and floral print wrap dress combines many of the trends – by Suzy J– 083 3979988. Worn with pants for a more casual look.
  • A workwear winner–a crisp white shirt.
  • Something in a black and white polka dot print– an inexpensive scarf maybe.
  • An inexpensive stripy top in red, navy or black– wear it with a cropped jacket and tailored shorts.
  • A leather wedge sandal.
  • Splurge on a one–off statement piece – handbag, belt or pair of shoes that defines your seasons statement–a bright colour or bold print.
And for the Men ...
  • This season’s suit embodies a trend towards slimmer silhouettes eg those worn in the 50’s and early 60’s.
  • Wear a pinstriped suit with a monochromatic shirt and tie to give it an edge.
  • Grey is the new black–the favoured high fashion colour for suits this season. From pale pewter to the deep slate, in pinstriped, checked or plain, this versatile colour is ultra–easy to wear.
  • Team your linen pinstriped suit with a crisp white shirt, petrol–blue tie for a stylish and elegant appeal.
  • For the more daring, wear a white suit with a shirt that makes a strong colour and stripe statement (lime, orange, pink, turquoise). For some added glamour team with a cotton pin-tuck tux shirt.
  • Silk ties in bold colours and prints. Stripes still reign supreme – from thick, thin, multi–coloured or monotone.
  • Thick, thin, multi–coloured or monotone, this summer stripes are in. Bright stripes are better on under 40’s . If over 50 and you work in a more conservative field keep your bold colours and prints for casual wear.
  • If your frame is thick set be careful with using too bold a stripe. Thinner men should use darker stripes, to avoid looking like a candy stick.
  • Funky yet sophisticated, the return of the checks are here.
  • For a more casual look team dark jeans with a jacket and paisley shirt and finish off the look with a cravat.
Seasonal Sneak Peek

Want to know more about the 2006 Summer trends?
Avoid the seasonal pitfalls.
Learn the colours, fabrics, styles which will suit you best.
De–clutter and update your working wardrobe appropriately.
Ask us about our lunch time session for you and your colleagues
Tel: 011 467 5126    email: prof–
Professional Impressions would like to credit the following for information and images used in this article:
How To Talk to AnyoneLeil Lowndes
The Fine art of Small Talk Debra Fine
True Love Babe Sept 2006/
Fairlady Fashion Focus Summer 2006
Fairlady Sept 2006
Fairlady Oct 2006
Woman and home Sept 2006
Elle Sept 2006
Elle Summer Style Guide 2006
Marie Claire Sept 2006
Longevity October 2006
EdgarsStyle Guide Spring 2006
Cosmo Nov 04
Men's Health October 2006 – Spring '06 Guide to Style
Queenspark Summer catalogue 2006
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