IMAGE is basically the sum total of mental conceptions people have about us.
According to human behaviour specialists, we only have between seven to 17 seconds of interaction with strangers before they form an opinion of us.
Whether this is a good thing or not, in our days, we seem to be judged by our outer appearance before we are judged by our inner values. Consequently, we need to take time to ensure that our outer image is accurately reflecting our inner values.
Our outer appearance communicates a powerful message to our environment about how we respect and view ourselves. Secondly, in today’s competitive world, image is essential to our success.
The wrong choices can be costly and devastating to our careers and self-esteem.
This week we are looking at some of the simplest and yet biggest professional image mistakes to avoid.
- Outdated hairdos
An outdated hairstyle, particularly for women can be an image breaker. Hairstyles should match the attire.
A trendy hairstyle matches a stylish outfit and professional hairstyles should be understated, but clean and modern.
- Makeup no-no’s
Putting our best face forward is imperative for portraying the right professional image. This means proper makeup application. Makeup should not be too much or too little either. It should also be appropriate for the occasion. For instance, the most effective look for business is an understated look that is classic and elegant without looking made-up.
- Wardrobe busters
We need to dress appropriately for the occasion, our body shapes and our audience. Our wardrobe is another business tool. The right look may not necessarily give you the job but the wrong look will certainly keep us out of it. Whether we like it or not, we are saying something about who we are with our personal appearance.
- Accessory busters
Wardrobe accessories add flair, uniqueness and personality to the basic parts of our wardrobe.
We can use them to create a particular look, such as looking taller, thinner, or to brighten an outfit. If we mix and match the wrong accessories, however, we can create a look much different than we were intending.
- Poor posture
Poor posture can ruin the appearance of someone who otherwise has a professional image. We should be conscious to always stand straight, with shoulders back, and in control of our bodies.
- Nervous habits
Nervous habits we do not even notice we are doing can detract from the professional image we want to portray. Habits such as nail-biting, hair-twisting, cracking knuckles and funny facial expressions will all negatively impact our credibility.
We are all marketing ourselves one way or another. Knowing how to use clothing and image as tools for success is a must for all upwardly mobile professionals.
Nonto Masuku is an executive partner of an image management consultancy firm