You’ve heard the one about you only have one chance to make a first impression. Well it’s true. It takes a person about seven seconds to form their opinion about you and a lifetime for you to change it. So, make the first impression your best.
That’s great if you know what impression you want to have and how to go about achieving it and presenting it to the public. But what happens when you know the impression you’re leaving isn’t the impression you want. What then? How do you change your image?
The steps are simple and not necessarily easy. First, you have to determine what image you want to project. You may already know the image but if you don’t, think about your favorite place to shop. Do you like to shop there because of its customer service, selection, price, quality, and atmosphere? Which of these do you want to be known for?
Next, think about a person or persons you respect. What characteristics do they have that makes you respect them? Some characteristics you may respect in others and may want to include in your image are always on time, appropriately groomed, honest, quality work, never turns anyone down, positive attitude? Which of these do you want to be known for?
The technique of looking for characteristics in a department store or another person makes the process easier to achieve. It’s easier to look objectively at a department store or another person than it is at yourself. Once you’ve determined the characteristics you like and want to be known for, make a list of them. You’ll want to refer to this list often to keep it in mind.
Next, think of what you already do that supports those characteristics. What actions are you taking that would leave the impression you want? Now that you know what you are doing, what aren’t you doing? This of what actions you want to be doing to display your list of characteristics. Make a list of what you already do and want you want to do to create the image you want.
This gives you two lists, the one of characteristics of your image and the action items to make them yours. You won’t just “look” the image you’ll also “act” the image. It’s important for you to make sure the image you want is one you are willing to own. If you aren’t committed to integrating those characteristics into your image, you won’t be able to maintain it. If you can’t maintain it, then people will get confusing images from you and won’t know which they can trust.
Great, you now have two lists, and what do you do with them. This is the most difficult part, to remember to act the image. With life being so intrusive at times, you might want to enlist help. Sticky notes can come in quite handy to remind you of your image and goal. You can also ask for reinforcement from trusted colleagues and co-workers, family members and friends. Whoever you ask for help from, make sure they have your best interest at heart and are willing to let you grow into the person you want to be.
This is a process, so be patient with yourself, the more you practice the more it will become a part of you and you’ll know what you’re saying to the world and mean it.