Do you know that people make assumptions about you by what they see? The way you dress, and your body language is all part of the nonverbal communication that takes place even before a proper conversation is exchanged.
The way you carry yourself is a big part of your personal image. But what exactly is personal image and how can you make it work for you in your everyday life?
What is personal image?
Everyone has a personal image, whether we like it or not. Appearance, body language and communication skills (verbal and nonverbal) are all part it and part of who we are. These are also areas that influence how others form perceptions about us. Personal image is all about how we present ourselves to the others around us.
Thus, you should not neglect your outward appearance to stand out from the crowd. While it may seem superficial to take time to address how we look, doing so will help you make an impactful impression that just might lead to recognition and success.
Personal Image branding
Personal image branding refers to the overall representation of a person. This includes his or her personal image. When you reveal and work on the right qualities you will be able to show yourself as unique and stand out from your peers and competitors.
In order to have success in personal branding, you will need to identify your goals, values, and purpose. Knowing what you are passionate about as well as qualities that make you who you are will distinguish you from others around you.
A large part of personal branding is about developing a persona around your name. This means you will need to understand how people view you and manage their perceptions of you. Once you have an idea of how you are perceived, you will be able to communicate your values effectively.
Personal image branding is for everyone. We should all know who we are, what we stand for and what we have to offer. Personal branding helps you to illustrate your values, strengths, passions and skills.
Why is personal image important?
The way you present yourself influences the way people think of you and ultimately, how they treat you. A positive personal image will give you a head start when it comes to people’s first impressions of you.
A study that was conducted among 126 university students found that first impressions are formed in less than one second. Additionally, a series of studies found that we use these first impressions to make judgments about people even when we are told facts that contradict these impressions.
It’s important to evaluate how you carry yourself as others will most likely see you before deciding whether or not they want to speak to you. A favourable personal image makes it easier for others to approach you. It will also help you to be confident in who you are.
Building and improving your personal image
The good news is that our personal image is not set in stone. We can take time to work on it and improve on how we show ourselves to others.
Identify the problem
The first step in improving your personal image is to identify the problem areas. What is it that you would like to fix? A good way to identify problem areas is to ask trusted friends how they perceive you. The truth might be hard to swallow but once you know how others see you, you will know exactly what to improve on.
Refine your appearance
A large part of your image comes from your personal style. While we most probably do not like the idea that we are judged according to how we dress, dressing well does have its advantages.
This doesn’t mean that you have to spend a large sum of money on clothing. It just means that you need to be aware of what looks good on you. Make sure your clothes fit well and that the colors that you choose are appropriate for the event that you are heading to. Knowing what works for you will go a long way.
There is evidence that the way we dress influences first impressions. A study on attire found that even slight changes in what you wear can communicate different information to the perceiver.
Work on communication skills
As mentioned before, communication can be verbal and nonverbal. We should pay attention to both.
Nonverbal communication skills include your posture, body movement and eye contact. For people to form positive impressions, you will need to stand up straight and have an open body language. Maintaining eye contact shows that you are interested in what the other person is saying. Doing so also communicates self-confidence.
Verbal communication includes the words that you use and the tone of your voice. Be aware of how you sound. Do you need to soften your voice to be more approachable? Some practise may be needed before we develop skills that effectively and authentically communicate who we are.
Studies have shown that nonverbal communication is just as important as verbal communication, and at times, even more so. In 2011, researchers found that both men and women were significantly more attracted to people who smiled. Another study revealed that people can make judgements about how trustworthy you are based on your facial expressions.
Ask for Expert Solutions
If you are unsure of what to do, let others help you. For example, if you would like to improve on the way you look by giving extra attention to your hair, ask your salon what hair products you can use. If you need help with your wardrobe, why not engage a personal stylist to assess what looks good on you. You can also seek advice from a certified personal image consultant to help you work through the changes that you need to make.
Work on your online presence
As more and more people go online for work, social gatherings and even virtual dating, your online presence will also be part of your personal image.
Just because you are logging on from home doesn’t mean that you should look sloppy. In fact, you should think of upping your game to make up for the physical distance. Your nonverbal communication is even more important online than it is in person.
As we would normally hop on to a meeting or a date from certain spaces in our homes, make sure your background is representative of yourself. You might want to keep the messy part of the bedroom out of your background when on Zoom of Skype calls.
A Quick Checklist
If you’re always running about and do not seem able to find the time to sit down and think about your personal image, here’s a quick checklist that you can you before you start your busy day.
- Basic hygiene and grooming – are you clean?
- Focal point – take a glance at the mirror and check where does your eye go. Are you happy that someone’s eye will be going there?
- Well fitting clothes
- Clean shoes
- Appropriate color choices – Think about where you are going and if the colors that you choose are appropriate. For example, you might not want to turn up in red for a funeral.
- Body language – As body language can communicate tons, you need to make sure that you look approachable and friendly
- The tone of voice – Your voice can communicate your emotions
- Posture – A slumped posture communicates that you are not interested
What is a personal image consultant?
A personal image consultant is someone who works to portray you in the best light. They often do this with a specific goal in mind.
For example, many politicians employ the help of professional consultants to coach them in the way they walk, talk and behave to create a public persona that people will gravitate to.
Engaging a consultant to help you with your personal image may seem like you are trying to ‘market’ yourself. However, there are always certain blind spots about ourselves that we need help with. Personal image consultants are the best when it comes to presenting you professionally as well as publically.
Who needs a personal image consultant?
While many in the business world and the political arena hire consultants to help with their personal image. The truth is, everyone should be open to the idea of getting help to project a winning image. Doing so will help you in your personal, professional as well as your social life.
Here’s why you should consider engaging one. A personal image consultant will
- Help you to define yourself concisely
- Help you to be accessible and approachable
- Help you to realize what you can offer others and why they should take notice of you
- Coach you to be engaging and relevant
- Point out qualities and skills that set you apart from your peers
Personal image consultant in Malaysia
In Malaysia, more and more people are open to the idea that working on their image will help them to achieve their goals. Courses are available to help you to develop your personal image, both socially and professionally. If you are thinking about engaging a personal image consultant, don’t hesitate as it will be one of the best investments that you’ll ever make for yourself.
Agencies such as Dateworks have Certified Image Consultants who can help you with personal styling, color analysis and wardrobe audit. You will also learn how to match your personal style according to your body proportion, giving you a polished appearance.
One of the best ways to make a favourable first impression is through your personal image. A positive personal image will open doors and help you to succeed in both your professional and personal life. While it is possible to do this on your own, a professional image consultant will help you to gain insight not just on what you can change but also why you should improve on the way you present yourself to the world.