Image is something that we subconsciously understand but tend to consciously ignore. We all pick up on image-related cues that others send us, and others pick up on the ones we transmit. Given that the first impression you make on someone is crucial in how they perceive you, knowing what image is and why it matters is key to success throughout life.
What is Image?
There are a few dictionary definitions of “image” because it’s a homonym, but image as “the general impression that a person, organization, or product presents to the public” is the one we focus on. It makes sense that we’d want to make a good impression on those around us. A company must project a positive, competent image to stay in business. A product’s image must do the same if it’s going to make a profit.
Individuals also need to be conscious of the image they project. With that in mind, how do you know what image to project, let alone how to project it?
Managing Your Image – How Others Perceive You
Contacting an image consultant is, of course, a good first step. Henry A. Davidsen is owned by Brian Lipstein, a Certified Image Consultant (CIC) with the Association of Image Consultants International (AICI). This is a professional organization that offers certifications and continuing education in the areas of personal and corporate image consulting.
There’s plenty of research that tells us that humans size each other up in a matter of seconds, thus the importance of a good first impression. Some of the things that we subconsciously (and sometimes consciously) judge are:
- Social Status
- Perceived level of education
- Sexual orientation
From an evolutionary standpoint, this makes perfect sense. The ability to make judgments rapidly was key to humanity’s survival, so it’s no surprise that we’re hard-wired to do this even though our brain’s faculties have made leaps and bounds over thousands of years.
Appearance, Behavior, & Communication
At the end of the day, our managing your image comes down to three main concepts – appearance, behavior, and communication. We refer to this as the ABC’s of Image and we’ve written about it in the past (click the link if you’d like a deeper dive).
The key to being perceived as you wish is to ensure your appearance, behavior, and communication all align and send the same message. What does this mean?
Let’s say you’re applying for a high-stress, high-stakes job. What would you like the interviewer to think of you? A couple of ideas here could be:
- Calm: High-stress positions require clear, rational thinking. People who lose their cool under stress tend towards erratic, irrational thoughts and behavior. This could lead to mistakes or failure in such a position. You’d want the interviewer to think that you’re a generally calm, collected person who operates well under pressure.
- Detail-oriented: The devil is always in the details. You’d want the interviewer to feel, from the outset, that you’re a person with a keen eye for the little things and pays them the attention they require.
Now, imagine showing up to that interview with bitten nails and a poorly-knotted tie. Your resume (a method of written communication) may very well show lots of experience and success, but your appearance says that you might not be a good fit for the position.
Detail-oriented men pay attention to how their ties look, and calm ones don’t bite their nails. These kinds of things talk more loudly than our mouths tend to, and others hear them more easily. If you distract your interviewer with these details, he or she will certainly not hear the words you’re saying.
Other Components Of Image
Drilling a bit deeper, we find other aspects of image that humans pick up on instantly. Remember that the following attributes tend to garner positive attention:
- Genuine. There’s nothing more disconcerting than someone who’s putting on a face. People want to know the real you, so the advice your parents gave you when you were a kid still holds: be yourself.
- Inspiring. One thing that makes a successful politician successful is his or her ability to spur others to action. The ability to generate enthusiasm and empowerment is part and parcel of a successful image.
- Memorable. Do you stick out in people’s minds? If so, is it for the right reasons? Being remembered in an overall positive light is extremely important.
Why Does Your Image Matter?
Managing your image in a positive way can open doors for you, you just might not see the door being opened. Men whose appearance, behavior, and communication tell the world, in a cohesive way, that they are genuine, memorable, and inspiring tend to be successful in their personal and professional lives.
Your image is a powerful tool that you can use to manage how others perceive you personally and professionally. If you still have any questions about this topic give us a call at 215-310-0219 or email at email@example.com.