Maintaining Your Personal Image.

by : W. Paul Barton

Your personal image: It’s the most important YOU asset you own.

Your personal image, the perception that people have about you, affects your success in every aspect of life - your life on the job, your social life, even your love life!

That is true because, no matter who you are or what you do, your success depends on what other people THINK about you - the image they have of you.

Your personal image has a number of elements. The way you dress, the colors you choose, the way you talk and the way you relate to others are some of the more important ones.

Some examples:

Personal Image And How You Dress

One very dramatic real-life example of how the way you dress can affect your success was recounted in the New York Times. The Times reported on what happened when two young men attempted to get an online service executive to give them $500,000 for their surfing website.

The young men bought new suits for the meeting and their presentation was equally buttoned up.

After just five minutes, the executive ended the meeting, saying, ‘These are '#@%+! surfers?’

A couple of months later they came back for another presentation. How were they dressed this time? Like surfers - with Hawaiian shirts, shorts and sandals. For good measure, they acted the part in everything they said and did. But they didn’t change their presentation at all.

This time, they walked out with the $500,000 order. Clearly, the way they were dressed made a huge difference. They now ‘looked the part’ and this gave them the credibility they lacked before.

‘Looking the part, by dressing correctly has been proven critical to success in getting people to do what you want them to do.

In a famous experiment, two men approached 50 secretaries each in the same building to see which could best get past the secretaries to see the decision-maker.

Both used the same approach - but one man succeeded 24% of the time, while the second succeeded an astounding 60% of the time!

Even more astounding, they weren’t two different men at all.

They were the same man.

The first time the man approached 50 secretaries he was wearing a black raincoat.

The secretaries perceived him as a messenger or delivery person -- someone who should not be allowed to get in to see their bosses.

When he approached the second 50 secretaries, he wore a tan raincoat. This time the secretaries perceived him as an executive, a peer of their bosses. So they granted his request to see them.

The clothes he wore and the colors he chose in each situation profoundly shaped the secretaries’ image of him and made the difference between success and failure.

Personal Image And Your Conversation

Your talk (conversation ability) can be even more important to your success in business than your grades in school or college, according to a study by the Stanford University School of Business.

The study tracked the success of MBA's 10 years after they graduated. The result? Grade point averages of graduates had no bearing on their success -- but their ability to make conversation did.

The most successful graduates were those who could make conversation with anyone -- anyone from strangers to secretaries to bosses to customers.

Your image as being good in conversation helps you achieve success in social and personal relationships in two ways:

(1) Good conversation promotes ‘liking.’ We like to be around people who can carry on an interesting conversation.

(2) Good conversation creates an attractive image of wittiness, intelligence and self-confidence.

If you are able to carry on a good conversation, this makes people think of you as having more intelligence, wit and self confidence than those who cannot do so.

And, a university study showed just how important the perception of intelligence and self confidence can be.

In a study to determine the characteristics of the ideal male or ideal female -- intelligence and self confidence were rated as most important by 60% or more of respondents.

The message in all this for people who want to put themselves in position to succeed in their business, social and personal lives:

Take good care of your most important YOU asset - your personal image.

Copyright © W. Paul Barton