Think of all the ways you actively manage your image almost every day; whenever you apply for a job, sell your products or services, make a presentation or engage in a multitude of other activities, you’re consciously presenting yourself to the world.
But did you know that your image acts like a social flag, waving clearly for all to see?
It tells the world who you are and what you are thinking and feeling. Your image determines how others respond to you, and more importantly, it affects how they feel. People who manage their image effectively know that as humans, we are emotional beings and constantly have feelings of some type happening within us.
What’s important to realize is that we have innate powers we can access and use in a mutually beneficial way when we interact with others. It’s not just about the way you look or asking what’s in it for you, but how you can self-manage and create a positive experience for others as well as yourself?
People tend to think about image as the Dress for Success of the 80s or How to Impress Others for the purposes of achieving a goal. Your image (what others see) is as much about other people as it is about you. It’s not an exterior shell you wear that is independent of your true self; how others perceive you is a reflection of what you are feeling on the inside and is projected outward. We can’t fool others by what we wear, nor can we camouflage our inner emotions. Whether it is subconscious or not, we have a primal perceptive type of radar that kicks in when we interact.
Some call it a gut feeling, sixth sense or they may not be conscious of their feelings at all but when they feel uneasy, confused or just ‘off’ about something, they become uncomfortable and react accordingly. In business and in life, we don’t want others to feel confusion or any negative emotions when they meet us. This type of experience will not serve us well.
Next time you think about the image you project, extend that further and consider what others may be experiencing when they meet you. If you can manage your image (appearance, body language and tone of voice) in social interactions and others feel good as a result of your meeting, you are certainly on the right track.