Grabbing your image by the horns

Jodi Goldman takes a look at 1st impressions.

When I deliver my personal branding /marketing yourself in the workplace sessions I always get a look of shock when I reveal that a recent survey of the CEOs of the top 1000 companies found that when recruiting or promoting employees, the top two key factors were:

  1. personal presentation – communication skills, written communication, telephone manner and so forth.
  2. personal grooming – style of dressing, quality, appropriateness and fit of clothes, fitness hygiene, make up, manners.

Both of these scored higher then an MBA. This doesn't mean that an MBA / your qualifications aren't important, but when it comes to differentiating people, communication style and image are much more significant.

More and more companies and individuals alike are realising the importance of image. Here at learnpurple, it's something we have considered important from the beginning. So important in fact, that its one of our values!

So let's take a look at why is it's so critical: It might not be politically correct but consciously or sub-consciously, people make all sorts of assumptions about others based purely on how they look, or dress, or speak.

When someone meets you for the first time, those couple of minutes make up everything that they know about you. Even though you have a million other things going for you; past experiences, skills, knowledge, thoughts, dreams, accomplishments, to someone new; the little they have seen of you is 100% of what they know about you. And what's worse, is that psychologically once someone has formed a first opinion, they will actively seek out information that's going to reinforce what they already think or believe, ignoring any contradictory information.

The other filter process that will effect 1st impressions is what is called the 'Halo and Horns' effect. This is when someone assumes a whole set of characteristics based on the evidence of just one. How does this work? Say for example someone walks into your workplace looking totally professional and well groomed. You have no evidence of anything other then them being well dressed. However based on that one assumption, you will award them an automatic halo – assuming they must be smart, successful, intelligent, reliable, and so on – based on little or no evidence. And if they walk in looking unkempt and unfinished, you can imagine what other characteristics will be assigned, hence the horns!

The flip side of this rather alarming coin is that if you are aware of the image and impressions you are creating, and equally the ones you would like to be creating, and if you have the knowledge of how these are created, you can control how people perceive you!

This is where I now come in. In my past life I was a lecturer in communications, I am trained as a professional grooming expert and, since I joined learnpurple, I have been able to fulfil an ambition to become qualified as an image consultant.

It's important to really understand your body shape, what colours will enhance and detract, and to learn your 'wardrobe personality'. It's also about understanding your environment and what is appropriate, your role and what is fitting for it. You'll be amazed mental and physical effects of using this information.

Ultimately, the really great thing about one's image is that not only does it effect how others perceive you, but it also effects how you feel about yourself. When you start the day looking good and feeling good, the confidence it creates will only enhance all the other attributes you are actively trying to portray.

I think it's also important to remember that putting on an expensive suit is not the be all and end all of ones image, it's how you wear the suit. Its about knowing what your goals are and making sure that you are communicating those goals in all that you do, this includes the way you dress but is by no means the only factor.

Some key things to consider when thinking about your image and 1st impression: How do you want to be perceived, write down 5 words you would want people to use when they described you

When choosing an outfit: 1. Fit is key 2. Is it appropriate?

Is the look complete – for men and women, accessories are so underrated

A firm handshake has been rated as a key factor in people's opinions regarding your confidence level

So is posture – stand up straight and hold you head up high.

Dress for your next job, not this or (even worse) your last one!

I worked with someone recently and have been so happy to hear all about the fantastic results they have been achieving. The most noticeable thing that has changed is the level of confidence in the individual. I always say to people: 'fake it until you make it'. If you make every effort to ensure that people believe you are confident – even when you are quaking in your nicely polished shoes – eventually even you will start to believe it. It's hard to doubt yourself when you look fantastic, are standing straight, making eye contact and smiling. Trust me!

Do you have any confidence boosters / faking techniques that work for you that you can share with others?

2008-06-22T00:00:00+01:00 June 22nd, 2008|