Steps to Management Success – Step 47: Perception is Reality

Written By Rick Frishman Published March 31st, 2010

STEP FORTY-SEVEN

Perception is Reality

Books are judged by their covers, houses are appraised by their curb appeal, and people are initially evaluated on how they choose to dress and behave. In a perfect world, this is not fair, moral, or just. What’s inside should count a great deal more. And eventually it usually does, but not right away. In the meantime, a lot of opportunities can be lost.

WHAT IT MEANS: Thirty seconds—social psychologists studying the impact of image have determined that’s how long it takes for someone meeting you to form a whole laundry list of impressions about your character and abilities. In those thirty seconds, people will form those impressions based almost entirely on what they see—your clothes, hairstyle, carriage, smile, and the rest of your nonverbal communications. The takeaway lesson: appearances do count.

ACTION PLAN: Most people are quite attuned to dressing for success when it comes to job interviews, but the concept should extend beyond there. If you’re presenting at a meeting or meeting with a key customer, step it up a notch. Give some thought to your business wardrobe, and be prepared to dress appropriately for several business environments. Guys: ask your wife, girlfriend, or a fashion-literate friend for help if you need to. Remember, business casual is not the same as sloppy. Keep in mind that the suit-and-tie look is not always the way to go. In the business world, it’s more a matter of “When in Rome . . . ”—so do some advance scouting to find out how the natives dress.

EVEN BETTER: Package appeal isn’t just for how you look and dress—it’s about how your work looks too. E-mails and reports riddled with typos look just as sloppy as a tie with a big grease stain. Reports that are more professionally formatted—and packaged—are likely to be viewed more seriously. If you don’t know the various Word formatting tricks and report cover options that can give your work a spiffy look, either delegate the task to someone who does or learn them. By paying some attention to how we package ourselves and our work, we can create a more professional, more positive, and more likely-to-succeed impression.

(Excerpted from: 10 Clowns Don’t Make a Circus. . . and 249 Other Critical Management Success Strategies by Steven Schragis and Rick Frishman)


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