We’ve all been taught from a young age to never judge a book by its cover. But secretly, we all do exactly what we’re taught not to… all the time… That’s right, it’s pretty hard to believe. But we’re all equally guilty of it.
What, Me?… Judge A Book By Its Cover?… Never!…
The phrase itself is symbolic, and has literary nothing to do with a book, any book for the matter. What it actually means, is forming a perception of something, or someone, by merely looking at it/them. Like what the phrase implies, to preconceive what the content of a book is like just by merely glancing at the cover.
What matters even more than books, is the perception of what a person’s background, when meeting for the first time. What his/her socio-economic background, education level, mannerism, loyalty, etc. is like, before really getting to know him/her better.
“But how often does this situation arise?”, you may ask. And the answer is “very”… The biggest example is during job interviews. We’re taught to dress up to the nines, and in a conservative manner when attending job interviews. The reasons are plenty, but more commonly, it’s to convey that we’re matured, serious, and most definitely the best candidate for the job that you’re interviewing for. The truth may not be the case… But then again, you’re not interested in the truth. You’ll want to paint a picture of perfection, that you’re the best candidate for the job. Well, at least better than those losers… err… I mean the other candidates, sitting outside in the waiting room…
“Okay, But We Don’t Go To Job Interviews Everyday!”
That’s true… So what other situations do we need to put our best foot forward? What other situations do we need to impress the people we’re meeting for the first time? Well, let me count the ways :-
- Going out for the first date.
- Meeting potential clients for the first time.
- Meeting your future in-laws for the first time.
- Networking with like-minded business executives.
- Giving a presentation, whether in a boardroom or an auditorium.
The list is literary endless…
There’s No Second Chance To A First Impression
Whether you believe it or not, we all make unsubstantiated impressions on people we meet for the first time. We assign characteristics that we “assume” the person we’re meeting has. It doesn’t matter whether it’s accurate or not, we just do… And we all form that preconception in mere seconds.
Once we’ve formed that image in our minds, it’s more or less permanently ingrained. It’s virtually next to impossible to change it later, even when faced with fresh information about that person. There’s almost no second chance to change that perception afterwards. Not even to slowly absorb more information about a person we’re meeting for the first time. It’s like the blank canvas is fully painted with the perceived characteristics of that person in mere seconds. And changing that image is next to impossible once painted.
So How Do You Project A Good First Impression?
You already know that people will judge you the moment they lay their eyes on you. So is there a way to convey who you really are even before they lay their eyes on you? Better still, to convey a better image of you? To help them “judge” you exactly how you want them to?
As a matter of fact, there is… It’s called personal branding…
So what’s this “personal branding” that everybody’s talking about these days? Is it something that you can learn to do?
Your Reputation Precedes You
Humility is the ability to accept the things that you can’t change. But wisdom is the ability to exploit the things that you can change. So a wise person will fully utilise this ability to form a preconceived “image” of himself or herself, and project it at the moment of first meeting, fully knowing that it’ll be soaked up like a sponge by the audience. This is called a personal brand projection.
And if you’re really good at it, this image projection will project even further than just to those you’re physically meeting. It could even be projected to people whom you haven’t even met yet. And with additional information from those who have already met you in person, this positive image forms an even greater impact, further projecting your personal brand.
What You Can Change, And What You Can’t Change
Obviously you can’t change your height, weight, physical appearance, family lineage and socio-economic background. That’s a given. But you definitely can change your grooming, your dressing, your outlook, and perhaps, even the way you communicate with others. In short, your style.
What you look like outwardly communicates a lot of information to those around you. And if you’re in the limelight, you can be sure that pairs of eyes are already scanning up and down upon you. They’d probably have concluded your education level, your socio-economy background, and maybe even how popular you are, all within seconds of seeing you for the first time. They could be wrong, and they most probably are. But there’s nothing you can do to correct that… not anymore…
By dressing casually, trying to be a grey man, and blending into the crowd, people won’t think much about you… literary… You’re deemed “not important enough” for others to even want to get to know you. That’s good if you’re a spy, trying to be inconspicuous. But otherwise, that’s not exactly a good first impression or a positive personality to project.
On the other hand, if you’re dressed well, neatly groomed, and perhaps even with a smiling, happy face, everybody will have a good impression on you.
How You’re Dressed Doesn’t Just Reflect On Yourself
Contrary to popular belief, having a neat haircut, clean teeth and skin, and fully decked out in a business suit, doesn’t just reflect positively on yourself. It also reflects the respect that you have for your audience. It shows your audience that they’re important enough to warrant the time and effort to dress up and project a positive image.
This is very important, especially if you’re in a business setting. Nobody wants to buy anything from somebody who doesn’t take the effort to try to impress them. Your intention may be genuine, no doubt about that. But by not taking the effort to project a likeable image towards them, it’ll appear that you don’t “respect” them enough to want to look professional for their benefit.
The Power Of Positive Personal Branding
It’s such a shame that the modern society doesn’t really emphasise much in educating the young to take good care of their outlook. Especially so for the men folk. Ladies have fashion labels and cosmetic companies vying for their attention, teaching them to buy and use their products. Men, on the other hand, would probably drift aimlessly, towards looking as casual as possible. Anything not to stand out from the crowd. Which, unfortunately, is exactly opposite of of what he should they doing in the first place.
So if you’re in the same situation, what you need is a style consultant. You need a mentor to help you project an image, to look like a million bucks. At the end of the day, whether you take the effort to look good or not, others will still judge you. So you might as well choose to project a positive image, and get the others to judge you positively instead.
In future articles, we’ll explore why you should engage a style consultant, and how a style consultant can help you form and project a positive image.