What Image Are You Projecting
I want you to think about something for a few moments.
Do you have any perception about what sort of image
you are projecting? I’m talking about the personal or
professional image that you are presenting to the rest
of the world. When we perceive others we do it through
four of our five senses:
The fifth sense, "taste", we will set aside because it
is irrelevant to this subject. But we will include an
intangible quality, a "sixth sense", so to speak, which
we will identify as "something extra". What I refer to
here is that vague notion we get about somebody which
we are unable to quantify. It is an all-round subconscious
combination of everything else that we perceive about
the person. We have all felt it. We all project it. It’s
the thing we speak of when we say or think the words:
- "I feel as though I can trust this person" or
- "I think I feel safe in this person's presence"
- "it seems as though I have known this person a long
- "I just don’t feel comfortable when he (or she)
is around" or
- "this person makes my skin crawl."
Call it gut feeling, animal instinct, intuition or
whatever you want. We all possess it and we all project
it. Some are more receptive at what comes in and others
can mask what goes out. But there are signals. So let's
examine each of the above attributes briefly to see
what sort of "persona" or image you are projecting for
others to "read".
1 – Sight. What do you see when you look in
the mirror? What do you look like? Not everybody has
movie star looks or a perfect athlete’s body. However,
we should all be making the most of what we have got.
There is simply no excuse for an unkempt appearance.
Are you a man who only shaves every second or third
day? If so, why? Are you a woman who has unruly hair?
It has been proven that people judge you mostly by what
they see. If you make a poor initial visual presentation
then you have to rely on everything else to work overtime
to overcome it. Consider this. Think about your lawyer,
accountant, doctor or any other "professional" person.
When you first met that person how did they present?
Were they well groomed and in fine clothes? Almost certainly
they were. Now, every time we see that person we judge
them by that first presentation appearance. You may
see your accountant one weekend down at the hardware
store in his or her grubbiest work clothes – but you
still have that image of them in their professional
attire. Let’s reverse that. Let’s assume that you bump
into that person in the hardware store, you strike up
a conversation, during which, they reveal to you that
they are an accountant. But you see them in their filthy
weekend work gear. Is it convincing? You decide to visit
them at their usual place of work at a later date. Hey
presto! Out comes this person looking very professional.
Is your mind in conflict? The point I am making is this
– the first impression is the lasting impression. When
you see somebody for the first time and they are professionally
attired, that is the way you invariably categorise that
person from that point on – even if a subsequent meeting
shows them wearing lesser clothing. It just doesn’t
work in reverse. My point is – if you want to project
a certain image – dress for that image. But that is
not to say that you need to wear your best clothes all
the time when you are away from your work. The above
example was just to illustrate my point.
2 – Sound. What words do you use? Do you speak
appropriately and knowledgeably for your profession.
Are you prone to "um" and "er" your way through conversations?
Do you think before you speak? Is your verbal language
sprinkled or even littered with profanities or expletives?
Gutter language is a sure way to lose customers and
clients. So are sarcasm, racial prejudism, sexual connotation,
rudeness, ignorance, criticism and a host of other poor
language traits. Do you revise and edit your written
language in letters or emails before you send them –
particularly when you are in conflict with a person
or corporation? Do you screen your writing for blatant
errors or possible misunderstandings? Being pleasant
but firm creates a much better environment for resolution
than a harsh and angry tone. Do you wait before you
send your mail and revisit your words before posting?
Do you put yourself in the position of the receiver
of the correspondence?
3 – Smell. A tough subject to deal with. I will
be blunt. Do you smell? Many people have deficient nasal
receptors. Their sense of smell is either diminished
or non-existent. Often such people can reek of offensive
body odour simply because they are unaware of it themselves.
Some people have heightened nasal receptors. Their sense
of smell can be so sensitive that all sorts of odours
cause them discomfort. Therefore, if you are a man who
drowns himself in after-shave you might save yourself
a lot of money by being less liberal with it. Similarly,
women who walk down a corridor and leave a trail of
perfume in their wake might also like to follow this
advice. A hint of after-shave or perfume can be refreshing.
A miasma of it can be just the reverse.
4 - Touch. In today's society you had better
be aware that excessive touching and feeling is completely
unacceptable. If in doubt, you should offer and accept
your hand in a hand-shake only. Many people find it
very offensive when personal contact is made. If you
are in the habit of giving people a hug just make sure
that the "hugee" is amenable to the hug from the "hugger".
All of the above add up to what can be described as
a "general personal aura". You can send and receive
these auras. They form part of that unquantifiable quality
that we know of as the "sixth sense." Be aware that
many of the subjects that I have described above can
be modified to suit specific locations, customs, beliefs
and relationships. There is no universal law. Awareness
and common sense are the key. There are several books,
which go into great detail on these matters. One such
book is "Body Language" by Allan Pease.
If you have any difficulty locating this book you can
always request it by its unique code (ISBN 0 9593658
0 X).This is an excellent reference source on many non-verbal
gestures. It certainly makes for interesting reading.
By being aware of the signals that we send out when
we deal with other people we can improve the way we
interact with them. These are skills which can be learned
and they can greatly increase our results in personal
and business relationships. These skills are important
because the greatest element in personal contact with
your clients and customers is communication. Poor interpersonal
skills will eventually cause a breakdown in confidence
which will manifest itself in declining sales. The most
successful people in any business are always the communicators.
If you are an employee and you want your salary to increase,
work on your communication skills. If you are a business
owner and you want your turnover to increase, work on
your own communication skills first then show all your
employees how to do the same. The image that you project
in the marketplace will directly affect your "bottom
line". Think about it. What image are you projecting?
About the author: Gary Simpson is the Course
Co-ordinator for the "Life, Journey, Destiny - Personal
Development Home Study Course" and the author of "How
to Stop Wasting Your Life and Start Getting What You
Want". His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. The website containing
this article and others is located at Motivation & Self Esteem for Success.