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First Impression, Lasting Impression

By Becky Rupiper-Greene

Is a first glance keeping you from getting a second chance?

It’s no secret that first impressions can form lasting opinions. Research consistently reveals that favorable first impressions and a polished image can serve as competitive tools. It also indicates that many are sabotaging their success when their appearance is not congruent with their expertise and abilities.

If you want to be taken seriously, it’s time to take a serious look at the impact your appearance has on the way you are perceived by others. Whether you are meeting with a customer, engaging a prospective client, or interacting with a colleague, strategic impression management has the potential to shape that relationship in a positive manner.

Consider just a few seemingly small details which make a significant difference in the impression others form of you:

Shoes are one of the first things people notice about you, so always put your best foot forward. Are they appropriate for the occasion? Do they need to be polished, resoled, or laces replaced? Are they a current or classic style? Dated or scuffed shoes imply that your products, services, or knowledge may also be lacking or dated as well.

Your hands are on display constantly, whether you are shaking someone’s hand, pointing to information on a report, or eating in a restaurant. Keeping your hands clean and nails well-trimmed is essential. Neglected hands suggest potential neglect elsewhere.

Unflattering or dated eyewear can have a negative influence on your visual message. Choose frames that are proportionate with your face and which are a flattering color for your skin tone. Avoid wearing tinted glasses indoors as they can make you look tired in addition to inhibiting good eye contact.

You are your own number one asset, and thus you are worth investing in. When you do that, others are willing to invest in you, too, according to recent research done by economists who studied the correlation between time spent on grooming and wages. Their findings indicated that every extra ten minutes of daily grooming increases weekly wages by 6% for men, with women needing to increase grooming time slightly more to achieve similar returns.

Companies also find that when they encourage and engage their employees in the area of impression management, they consistently see an increase in confidence, self esteem, and effectiveness. Personal effectiveness inevitably leads to organizational effectiveness and success - a winning result for all!