Do you walk your talk? Is the image you portray to the world in line with the real you? Does your image work for you? People make assumptions about you based on your appearance, attitude, and the words you choose.
Do you talk about homeless children or your drinking exploits? Do you look like a stockbroker, a plumber, or a rap star?
Present yourself in a way that depicts your values. It’s disconcerting to people when they can’t quite figure you out.
* “This guy wants me invest my money with him, but he looks like he works in a factory.”
* “She says she’s all about helping the poor and the homeless, but she drives a $100,000 car and constantly talks about her extravagant spending habits.”
Maybe you have a friend that claims he’s an adventurous risk-taker, but has been stuck in the same low-paying job that he can’t stand for the last 10 years.
When the image you present to the world clearly isn’t accurate, it raises a lot of red flags, and others won’t trust you. When your image doesn’t fit the situation, it also causes concern.
What does the image you present say about you?
1. Be realistic regarding the situation. If you’re going to a job interview, it’s not really the right time to wear your ripped jeans or to curse like a sailor. That might be the image that makes you the most comfortable, but it’s creating challenges for you in certain situations.
* The right clothing, vocabulary, and attitude will vary with the situation. You don’t want to be viewed as a constantly changing chameleon, but there are things that just won’t work in certain situations.
* Consider the image that will work for you in a given situation and make the necessary adjustments. A certain image may be accurate, but that doesn’t mean it’s appropriate 24/7.
2. Know what matters to you. Your values are an important part of developing the image you present to the world. Are freedom and rejecting social norms part of your value system? Adventure? Money? Helping others?
3. Understand what it means when your true-self and your image are incongruent. It means that you’re trying to present yourself as something you’re not. You’re not happy with your reality, so you’re pretending to be something else.
4. Think about the image you want to present at work. Are you the creative guy with unique solutions? Or are you the dead-serious woman that meets every deadline, even if she has to work 12 hours on Saturday? What image will work in your work environment? Can you still look at yourself in the mirror each morning with that image?
5. Think about the image you want to present outside of work. Can people figure out who you are within 10 minutes of meeting you? Do you like the way the world views you? Does it work for you? Is it an accurate depiction of you?
Find the middle ground. You might be a casual person, but that doesn’t mean you can wear gym shorts and sneakers everywhere. There are other ways to present yourself as someone that isn’t stuffy and overly formal. Be honest about who you are, but don’t shoot yourself in the foot in the process.
When your true-self and your image match, it puts people at ease. You’re more likeable when you’re congruent. Think about the most likeable people you know. You know exactly who they are within a short time.
Think about how you present yourself to the world. Are you making your life easier or more challenging?