Set to Impress :: Springboard Training

Set to Impress

SylviaH • August 9th, 2009 
Professional Image

Professional Image

What is the difference between a suited-up business executive who carries a high quality leather portfolio and a leather-clad motorcycle rider carrying a custom-painted helmet? The answer is, there is no difference. That executive and that bad-a__ biker are one and the same, with the same desire to impress.

You see, this person understands that first impressions are a fact of life when more than one person is a factor in a situation. And this person understands that first impressions are influenced by dress, grooming, personal presence, eye contact, posture, comportment, and how you move from point A to point B. What is more, it takes no more than a few seconds to garner an impression of someone and may take years to undo that impression…if the chance even presents itself to do so.

In the professional world, the suit and high quality accouterments communicate an image of success, professionalism, respect, money, confidence, and social class—whether these characteristics are true of the person or not. They are the perceptions others may have of a person just by the way that person looks and comes across. Similarly, in the motorcycle environment, a complete leather outfit from jacket to gloves to boots, and a custom-painted helmet communicate an image of seriousness, safety, experience, pride, confidence, and individualism—again, whether these characteristics are true of the person or not.

Given the reality of first impressions—which directly relate to our pre-conceived notions of who people must be based on how they look—the importance of choosing to set an impression cannot be overstated.

So how do you set an impression when first impressions are seemingly uncontrollable? You learn what creates impressions to begin with. Then you evaluate the characteristics that sway a person’s perceptions one way or another. You consider the environment in which those perceptions hold true. Finally, you choose whether or not to present yourself in the manner that generates the impression you want others to have of you.

In other words, learn what is appropriate for a situation, then choose to come across in the appropriate way. Or not.

A more subtle, yet equally important message is to not get angry or annoyed when you choose to be inappropriate to a situation and generate an unfavorable impression. Your choices set the perceptions others have of you.

Take first impressions of you into your own hands. Learn what is deemed appropriate to the situation to which you aspire. Evaluate your choices for the impressions you can set. Make your choices based on what you want to accomplish. Then set yourself up to impress.