Why Your Image Matters? – Image Consultant Explains
In this blog post I will explain why your image matters. First we will learn about the science behind first impressions so that we can understand this complex thinking process a little better. Later in this article I will also explain the risks that are involved in this fast thinking process. I hope it will help us all to contribute to a better society and more diverse workplaces.
People Size You Up In Seconds
Your personal image is the perception that people have about you. Basically it’s what people think and say about you behind your back. Your image affects your success in every aspect of your life. A successful personal image makes you more likeable, more trustworthy and more desirable as a friend or a partner. By working on your image you can get your dream job, be promoted, earn more and gain more power.
Often people have made an opinion about you before you have even had the chance to introduce yourself. I know it doesn’t sound fair but that’s just how our brains have been programmed. We all think like that but only a few are aware of the thinking pattern. That gives them a great advantage and with this post I want to give that advantage to you too.
When a person meets you for the first time, their brain makes several snap decisions about you. The process takes just 7 seconds and it is unconscious. Some decisions are made even faster and we are totally unaware of it. I find it fascinating!
We Make Snap Judgements Based On…
- Social class
- Education level
1st Impressions = Big Impact
First impressions have a huge impact on all further interactions. We all have had that new colleague that you loved from moment one. And also we all have had that new boss who we just knew we could never get along with. What about your neighbors, acquaintances or people you dated -or more interestingly: stopped dating?
If you look back you can probably find several real-life examples of situations where first impressions played a large role in the outcome of a situation. With this analysis you can learn to make the most of your seven seconds in any situation. Following my image consulting advice allows you to take your personal brand on a next level and be fully aware of the fact that your image truly matters.
The Fascinating Science Behind First Impressions
People are programmed to make a quick opinion about you based on your appearance, your body language, your gravitas and your style. It served a life-preserving purpose to our early ancestors who needed to make fast decisions if they wanted to live. This sounds very dramatic but that’s how life used to be. Every person you encountered was a potential threat but fleeing too fast made people lose on valuable partnerships.
That’s why early humans learned to judge others fast. To this day we still tend to trust our first impression, even if we later learn more about the person. This purely an ancient survival mechanism that has kept humankind alive and built our society. Now that you are aware of this, you can move on to thinking how you can use it to your advantage.
It’s a relief to know that everyone goes through this fast thinking process. Us humans are just born that way. Nobody is actually out to get you and I don’t want you to be unnecessarily paranoid about anyone’s motives.
Trust vs. Respect – Or Can I Get Both?
According to Harvard Business School professor Amy Cuddy in Business Insider the rapid decisions that people make within seconds from seeing you for the first time come down to two boiling questions:
Can I trust this person?
Can I respect this person?
From evolutionary point of view it was crucial for survival to be able to judge a situation or a person in a split second. People needed to make fast decisions in order to survive. Was the person (or animal) they were meeting an ally on an enemy? Did they need to make a quick escape or was it safe to stay?
Life then was very much about risk evaluation and rapid assessments. There was no other choice. To this day we carry those traits of our ancestors inside of us. Nowadays, when life is not only about survival, these traits are used in a more sophisticated manner. Or at least in an ideal situation they are used for doing good.
In the next chapter I am looking at the dark side of making snap judgements of other people. It’s an important chapter so continue reading with an open mind.
Risks Of Trusting First Impressions Blindly
We know now that first impressions and image are important and that they really matter. I advice you to put some serious effort in yours.
But I also advice you to not trust the first impression of others blindly. You may have caught the person on a bad day. We all have those, right? Be compassionate and give the person a second chance. Make playing fair part of your values because that, if anything, will make you a better person. Ability to think beyond your bias also shows true leadership quality.
There are also serious risks involved in trusting first impressions blindly. In my opinion, everyone needs to be aware of them. It’s the only was that we can learn to give other people equal chances to show themselves.
Learn To Control Biased Thinking
Start controlling biased thinking by actively questioning yourself and your peers. Are you really being fair and honest in your social interactions? Or is your thinking process biased by your own prejudices?
Judging the book by it’s cover have caused a lot of pain and injustice in the world. Stereotyping and unconscious bias has lead to major social issues such as racism, sexism and ageism. Prejudices and taboos can be very hurtful and lead to unfair situations. They can lead to missed opportunities, abuse, neglect, poverty, (mental) health problems and even death.
Prejudices make the world an unhappy place but it has also impact at work. Biased thinking makes toxic workplaces and in a long run is bad for business. This is because talent is overlooked and lost all the time when biased thinking reigns. Nowadays there are dedicated trainings available to battle workplace bias. Would your organization profit from this type of bias training?
Your Image Matters – But Are You Being Judged Accurately?
You can control that people are judging you accurately and not being confused or distracted about your image. Part of this transformation process is simplifying things. I am encouraging you to build a more powerful image with less distractions.
Always remember that people want see the real you so don’t stray too far from being genuine. Instead package yourself in a way that others can easily understand and trust. Every aspect of your image should support this goal.
It’s important to remember that authenticity doesn’t mean spilling all your secrets out there. You are in control of what you are giving away -and what you are keeping to yourself. That’s the fun part of building your personal brand.
Your Image Matters To Your Success
After all these words my conclusion is that your image matters. It should not be neglected or it’s impact should not be underestimated. Everyone has a personal image and a personal brand. The difference is that successful people are in control of theirs.
“How you look, how you speak, and how you act turn out to be critical to your success, our report concludes, at every step in your career journey.”– Center for Talent and Innovation
So be mindful about your personal image because it’s crucial to your success. In a competitive situation against other talented and experienced people (just like yourself!) it can be a true deal-breaker.
You have probably been yourself in a situation where you are weighing two equally good people against each other. Can you pinpoint the thing that made you choose the other person over the other? It may have well been their personal image that made you favor them.
Make your personal image a priority this year. Invest some effort in getting it back on track or improving it further. I am here for you throughout the process live and online.
Make Your Image Matter & Gain Full Control Of Your Personal Image
Remember to always remain as authentic as possible. Your personal image should be intentional and an actual reflection of who you really are. It should never be an imaginary or fake personality.
Your personal image is one of the few aspects of your life that you have a full control of and I am delighted to help you to invest in yourself. I am passionate about your personal image and brand, first impressions (in face-to-face situations and online) and your style. With my help you will learn to put your best foot forward in the current competitive business environment.
Let me worry about the looks. My image consulting services help you to focus on the very essential: Your fantastic skills and amazing knowledge. They also save you valuable time for more important matters in life, such as family, friends, hobbies and me-time.
Do you need more convincing? I got you covered in 3 Reasons to Hire Me
Elements Of A Successful Personal Image
- Inspiring: Create enthusiasm and make people feel empowered.
- Memorable: Stand out from the crowd for the right reasons.
- Approachable: Be open, communicate clearly and make people feel comfortable around you.
- Genuine: Remember to be the unique charming you.
- Engaging: Create lasting relationships and allow people to commit to you.
READ MORE about the impact of your personal image in I on Image’s 3-part blog series “Your Personal Image Is Everything”
Let me know how I can help you to make a great first impression. I would love to help you to put your best foot forward!
This blog post was originally published on 3rd January 2018 and updated on 3rd November 2022.