Leadership InsightsGet Email Updates
Sending Out Your Best Silent Message
You make a statement about yourself even before you open your mouth. This is your “silent message,” and it can include everything from your posture to your positiveness. In short, it’s the way you carry yourself, physically, emotionally, and intellectually. Such quiet signals profoundly affect people’s initial perception, or image, of you.
Of course, image isn’t everything-but it is important. As you know by now, doing well in life doesn’t hinge solely on merit and hard work. Image, especially when backed up by strong performance, is a powerful force. And a negative first impression-saying the wrong thing, wearing the wrong clothes, coming across as uncaring or inept-creates roadblocks that can cut off relationships before they get started.
When we meet people we immediately like, we tend to put a positive spin–at least, initially–on everything they say or do. Some call this favorable first impression presence. Others liken it to energy, or aura.
People with a presence, energy, or aura are able to maintain an excitement about themselves that starts with-but usually lasts far beyond-a favorable first impression. Thus, we admire them before we even know much about them, therefore, they possess an enormous advantage in establishing a bond with people.
Here are some other ideas on projecting a positive image:
1. A winning image starts with a good self-image.
A good self-image doesn’t follow success-it precedes it, as Robert L. Shook says in his book Winning Images. Someone saddled with a poor self-image may fool some people some of the time, but eventually he’ll fail, unless he comes to grips with his basic self-image.
Get some photographs or videotapes taken of yourself when you feel you’re looking your best and study them carefully. What do you see that you like, or don’t like?
Then ask your best friends for their candid opinions on not only how you look, but how you carry yourself, how you come across verbally, how you come across in terms of knowledge, enthusiasm, sincerity, and integrity, and what your car or house or briefcase or other material goods say about you. Promise you won’t take offense–and don’t!
2. Avoid annoying or distracting habits or mannerisms.
Marcia Grad, in her book Charisma: How to Get That Special Magic, calls these distracting habits or mannerisms “charisma robbers” and includes among them:
- Tugging at clothing
- Drumming fingers on a table
- Tapping pencils or clicking pens
- Jangling keys or change
- Biting nails
- Cleaning teeth
Not only do these habits make it more difficult for the other person to hear you; they also detract from your image.
3. Seek winners, spurn losers.
Attitudes are contagious! So nurture your emotional well being by choosing friends who genuinely want you to succeed and who encourage you. Also, ask yourself about your surroundings: How’s my house or apartment decorated? What about my office? Is it drab, or energizing?
Read some inspirational and motivational books. Or listen to happy music. (Have you ever heard a mournful banjo tune?) Or make it a point to go to funny movies or watch a TV sitcom that makes you laugh.
Consciously reduce your exposure to the negative, whether it’s gossip from co-workers, violence in the media, or pessimism in your own thoughts.
4. Practice treating everyone as if he or she is the most important person you’ll meet that day.
This will mean seeking to replace arrogance with empathy-not an easy task for a lot of people. However, it’s a real test of character, and every once in a while, you’ll learn a big lesson from that “little” person.
5. Make fitness a lifestyle, not a chore.
You don’t need an expensive club membership or a cross-country ski machine to maintain a body that exudes vitality. Forget the spandex, stopwatches, and ankle warmers, for instance, and just:
- Walk up and down the stairs to your high-rise office or apartment.
- Ride a bike to the neighborhood convenience store to pick up that quart of nonfat milk.
- Take a nature hike instead of watching a nature film on television.
Enrich Your inbox
with timely, relevant leadership insights
Join more than 15,000 others and subscribe to Linkage Leadership Insights: your resource for leadership development-related topics that matter to you, from change and transition management to innovation to coaching and more.
Start Your Journey
Speak with a Linkage expert today