You mean you choose to give that impression?

I am guessing that most of us have heard that first impressions count, right? We know (or should know) that the first few seconds of any meeting impacts massively on any interaction – and will set a base on which the success of further interaction will rely.

We will also know that we have just a few seconds to create the image we wish to portray and that in this few seconds only a limited number of the many elements that we use to communicate can be used, the visual.

When we have the opportunity to use all of these elements, such as speech, expression, listening or a combination, then we have some flexibility and opportunity to make up for shortcomings.  However, on those occasions when our choices are limited, we must make maximum benefit of what is available.

Choose the appearance – choose the result!

There is one certainty, unless we are aware of the impression we give how can we alter it or make attempts to improve?

So for any meeting, and in particular a first meeting, we must use all that we can if we want to create a positive result. A warm, genuine smile will make any face more attractive, an open and welcoming approach will put the other person at ease, choosing the right clothes – all will increase the opportunity for initial acceptance, attention to every detail is vital!

Whether or not we believe the adage that communication is 93 percent non-verbal, we cannot ignore the power of the non-verbal.  People subconsciously (automatically) judge us by our appearance, and will do so in a few seconds. Simply stated, if it walks like a duck and quacks – it’s probably a duck!

Limited opportunities?

So, all this being accepted, we know that we cannot afford to leave our visual impact to chance. We may have opportunity to overcome a poor initial impact with good supportive actions, but what about when we are solely reliant on the visual, in other words when we rely on something like a photograph to give the initial impression – surely we must know that this is a major opportunity to get it wrong?

And yet, a look at many of the pictures and video used social media profiles would suggest the opposite. Can some of the people have chosen their picture to represent the purpose – surely not?

Do we judge a book by its cover – absolutely!

If I am searching for a new business manager, I would expect to see someone presented as such. I’ll not give even a cursory look at a C.V or profile on a business connection site, such as LinkedIn, that carries a picture that is unrelated to my needs. For example, if the best picture that someone can use shows them dressed for a wedding – as smart as they may look, I wonder why on earth they haven’t bothered to have a business picture taken. If someone has a picture of them windsurfing I wonder what they are expecting me to understand (maybe they are trying to show their active nature, but again I have to use my imagination – and why should I when there are others that will be correctly represented).

Maybe I will get the impression that they are more interested in leisure than serious about their career?

If I am looking for a professional hair stylist, I doubt very much that I would be interested in someone with a bad hairstyle – its a matter of credibility and how this person would be perceived by my clients.

It’s not only on business connection sites where we have to show restraint and care. Many recruitment and HR managers now look at our social media profiles to judge our suitability. Our postings and pictures on Face Book are there for all to see and are easily found – we cannot be surprised therefore if they are used to influence decisions like employment and promotion, can we?

Styles and dress sense may be subjective but what we are talking about here is using the opportunity to present the best and most relevant first impression and if some of the profile pictures I see have been used as an attempt to achieve this aim – then I really have to say – You Cannot Be Serious!

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