Part 1: Manage Perceptions
This topic of professional image never ends. In fact, it's more talked about today than ever. I regularly get requests from clients to speak on this topic. Often, it is the employer or Human Resources department that hires me to come in and speak to their employees about it.
So, while many people think work is all about casual dress, I heard a phrase yesterday from a current client where I will be speaking in late September that says it all. She said, "This workshop is about business casual with the emphasis on business." Wow -- that was well said. This employer also said that in their firm they "embrace business dress and celebrate casualness." Another statement inferring that while we accept and encourage casual business dress, employees need to stay focused on the word "business."
In this blog and 3 more, I am providing excerpts from the participant's handout for my September workshop. Good stuff so I hope you will take it in and do an honest self-analysis. It could be one little thing that makes a big difference in moving forward in your career.
By the way, we cover this topic in depth at our World Class Assistant certificate program held in Las Vegas.
First and foremost, this is all about perception management. If you do research on the Internet on this subject you will see that the 'image experts' call this perception management. It makes sense because we can manage or change a person's perception about us just by changing our dress, hair color, actions, body language, and more.
Second, we could be the most credible person in the world, but if someone does not perceive us as such, that is what they live with -- that is their reality of who we are. So how do you want to be perceived by others?
Here are facts I found when conducting research on the subject.
FACT: Just 30 Seconds!
Social psychologists studying the impact of image have determined that it only takes 30 seconds for someone meeting you to form a whole laundry list of impressions about your character and abilities, such as:
• educational level
• career competence and success
• level of sophistication
• social heritage
FACT: The Halo Effect
These quick impressions can be lasting ones. Psychologists call it the halo effect. When your visual message is positive, the person you’ve just met will tend to assume that other aspects about you are equally positive. But unfortunately, if your visual message is negative, that new customer, client, co-workers, or prospective employer may not spend the time and effort to discover the talented person inside.
FACT: It’s Human Nature
* Maybe it’s unjust to judge a book by its cover, but we all do it. It’s human nature. While the person in jeans may be as competent and as intelligent as the one wearing the formal suit, or more so, we do assess these attributes based on appearance.
* Business life is fast-paced and impatient. Time is money. Classifying people visually is such an efficient shortcut that we often use it unconsciously.
FACT: Business Demands It
The work environment demands a certain level of professionalism at all times. You are the face of your business in the world – your company personified – and the mirror of your own future – right now, today. To be identified as a major league player and to be taken seriously in today’s game of business, you must take your casual apparel seriously. Business is a game. How are you playing it? Are you wearing the appropriate gear?
FACT: DISTRACTIONS HOLD ENORMOUS NEGATIVE POWER
If and when you wear dress-down attire, are you exercising the freedom to express yourself with a look that attracts wins and success to you? Or are you a distraction, making it difficult to win easily? Others cannot hear what you have to say when your physical appearance disturbs and distracts their focus. Chatter inside their mind is activated, dominating their thoughts.
More will posted on this topic soon.
(c) Copyright Joan Burge/Office Dynamics 2009