Ever wondered how others perceive you or how to make a better first impression? Read on for tips from leading image consultant, Image Quest’s Helen Robinett.
A successful business owner knows that they are in charge of how others see them. They know about the power of the first impression and how to work it. Image Myth No. 1 – “It doesn’t matter how I look, it’s what’s on the inside that counts.” Wrong! The reality of our world is that human beings are judging, perceiving creatures. We believe what we see.
It is during that first impression, those first few seconds of acquaintance, that a decision will be made whether or not to proceed with the relationship. Ultimately, people will do business and spend time with people they like. First impressions are instantaneous and long-lasting.
According to Albert Mehrabian, a psychologist at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), first impressions are made up as follows:
o 55% visual – what we see
o 38% auditory – what we hear
o 7% words – what we say.
It is interesting to note that 93% of our communication is sent before the meaning of our words is interpreted. Recent studies in the USA indicate that women are impacted more highly by the visual aspect of first impressions than men are.
Since we make profound value judgements visually, it makes sense for us to carefully consider the way we dress, purely to communicate what we want others to see in us.
Having a positive self-image is essential to your confidence. People who feel good about themselves perform at much higher levels than those who have a less-than-favourable self-image. Feeling good about yourself as an individual leads to dressing in a manner that appropriately reflects who you are as well as own personal style. It is at this point that you are presenting yourself with great integrity to those with whom you come in to contact.
Being consistent is vital to your success. Maintain an excellent standard of grooming and dress at all times. People will relate positively to your appearance each time they see you. This consistency builds up a level of trust in other areas such as reliability, competence and intelligence. If your image is inconsistent – a suit one day, jeans the next – you are communicating a mixed message. Have you really got what it takes to get the job done? You run the risk of having a client or employer think you may let them down at some stage.
Looking good is important for your business. It really is worth putting in the effort to communicate that you are confident, trustworthy, consistent and professional.
An effective image is one that is appropriate for your lifestyle, personality and business. The successful combination of these three elements will ensure your success. When your image is right for your lifestyle, getting dressed in the morning becomes effortless. Personality dressing is crucial in business because people relate to what they see and then build rapport and relationships. All over the world, human beings do business with people they like and relate to. Consumers have so much choice – why would they choose you? Being appropriate for your business and career is about reflecting the right image. How confident would you feel with a plumber in a suit? See how powerful perception is? It is important for people to perceive the right image of you. For example, the Australian police force is reliably attired in navy, a colour that psychologically sends messages of reliability and security.
Action Items –
1. How positive and confident is your body language?
2. How dated is your clothing?
3. On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate yourself?
4. Think about the people who inspire you. How do they look, speak and act?
Your client does not know the details of how successful you are in your career and life. They can’t see the rewards you have reaped due to your success. All they have to go on is what they see when they meet you. You have a responsibility to ensure that your image has you looking credible, professional and friendly, consistent with your values and vision and representative of your personal and professional accomplishments. Every day when we get up and get going, we are serving as either a warning or an example. There is no middle ground here. Make sure you are in the example category, not the warning one.
In the meantime, trust that you are doing many things right in regard to your current image. Most people are looking for skills and strategies to further enhance what they already know as well as being able to save money and time by making the correct choice first up. Personal image is a learned skill – once you have it, it’s yours for life.
This article is an excerpt from ‘Apprentice to Business Ace – your inside out guide to personal branding’ available in leading bookstores and also at www.imagequest.com.au.