Never judge a book by its cover….this is the most misleading phrase that I have ever heard all my life. We have been taught never to judge people by appearances….but honestly, can we do that? Is it even possible?
We form our opinions and judgements based on the very little information that we receive when we see a persons appearance or his / her IMAGE.
IMAGE- this word has many meanings.
A copy of a picture?
A picture that is formed based on the description of a person or an idea?
Well, it is all of the above and more.
In this present context, the image that I am referring to is ‘YOU in the minds of OTHERS!’
Did you know that it takes less than 17 seconds after seeing someone, to form an impression about them in your mind?
This happens very instinctively, almost like a reflex action, on which we have zero control.
The reality is that we can never NOT judge!
In fact, 7% of our communication is verbal (words that we use, language and vocabulary), 38% is vocal (tone of our voice, pitch, pauses, emphasis etc) and a whopping 55% is visual (this includes our clothes, hair, make up and grooming).
We cannot deny the fact we cannot NOT communicate, even if we choose to keep our mouths shut.
We are constantly sending messages to the world and people form an impression about us, based on these messages or clues.
Now this ‘impression’ could be a positive one or a negative one. And the sad part is that people make certain crucial decisions based on this very little information that they receive about you.
Someone may be passed over for a promotion simply because he or she did not ‘LOOK ‘ the part. A casual or sloppy sense of clothing could be interpreted as being casual and sloppy at work. Reality about this person could be very different, but by then the decision has already been made.
More often, these negative first impressions are very difficult to erase and a lot of time is wasted in the getting to know the real person and his / her personality.
An example of this phenomenon can be seen in this following example.
Marriage is considered to be a union of mind and body.
It is thus considered normal and obvious that one would like to get to know a person very well before committing to this life changing decision.
How would you react if I told you that you will get only one opportunity to meet someone and in that one meeting you will HAVE to decide whether or not to marry that person.
Sounds ridiculous right?
But in India, it is a very popular custom. The parents of the prospective brides and grooms ‘arrange ‘ their meeting and a decision is usually taken at the end of the first meeting itself. Nowadays, the lucky few are ‘allowed’ to meet few more times before a decision is taken.
I would not like to go into a debate about the pros and cons of this ‘arranged marriages’ custom, but just imagine the impact of the first impression. It could make or break your life
As unfair as it may sound, a decision about you has already been made in the first 4 seconds. Further interactions will only reinforce that decision in maybe next 30 seconds.
Whether you believe in the power of first impressions or not, a well groomed, fit, confident and warm person definitely stands a better chance of making a positive impact.
What if you knew how to control these impressions in others minds.
That would be so empowering. Almost like a super power.
In my subsequent blogs, I will share some simple and useful tips on how to create a powerful image and first impression that is not only positive but also an authentic one.
I believe that Image has to be worked from ‘outside- in’ as well as from ‘inside -out’.
Change is easier to understand and apply when it is more tangible and tactile. We feel immediate change in mood, body language and confidence when we wear flattering clothes, our hair is perfect and accessories are on point. But all this is instantaneous and hence ephemeral . Thats one of the main reasons why ‘makeovers’ do not work.
How can we sustain this makeover or change?
The answer is, Only when we have a strong and positive self image.
An authentic image is made when change happens from within. It creates a sense of balance and acceptance and helps greatly in building a very positive self image.
So lets begin this journey. A journey that promises to be fun and full of discoveries about oneself.
Remember, we are all masterpieces in progress. Just a few finishing strokes are remaining.
Until next week….stay happy!