What is impression management?
Connotations of Impression include feeling, idea, notion, thought, sense, intuition, inkling, hunch, and consciousness.
Impression management on the hand, is the process by which a person knowingly attempts to influence the perception of the other about him/her. It is a goal-directed conscious or unconscious attempt to influence the perceptions of other people about a person, object or event by regulating and controlling information in social interaction. It is usually synonymous with self-presentation, if a person tries to influence the perception of their image.
It can also be defined as an attempt by an individual to manipulate or control the impression that others form about them. They are especially likely to use these tactics when talking with people who have power over them or on whom they are dependent for promotions and key assignments.
And while the term 'impression management' may sound like just a buzzword, the concept has been around for quite a long time. In fact, Benjamin Franklin wrote quite candidly about impression management in his autobiography, first published in 1868. He writes: "In order to secure my credit and character as a tradesman, I took care not only to be in reality industrious and frugal, but to avoid all appearances to the contrary. I dressed plainly; I was seen at no places of idle diversion… and, to show that I was not above my business, I sometimes brought home the paper I purchased at the stores through the streets on a wheelbarrow."
Still good ideas today! Another example: Dale Carnegie's long-time bestseller How to Win Friends and Influence People was first published in 1936, going on to sell over 15 million copies. Similarly, Harrison Monarth’s book The Confident Speaker helps presenters of today manage the impressions of audiences everywhere. Impression management has clearly been around for quite awhile, undoubtedly long before Benjamin Franklin. However, in today's branding oriented world, it's more critical to success than ever. Organizations worldwide devote much of their efforts to actively managing their brands and reputations. And just like the smart corporate players - managers, employees and entrepreneurs should also seek to manage their reputations and the impressions they leave on people – their own personal brands.
Factors that provides direction to Impression Management
Current Social Image
Impression Management Techniques
Behavioural Matching: Person matches his behaviour to that of the perceiver. For example, employee tries to imitate her manager’s behaviour by being aggressive and fast paced.
Self-promotion: The person tries to present her personal attributes in a highly positive and exaggerated way. For example, employee reminds her boss about her previous accomplishments and associate with co-workers who are valued.
Conforming to Norms: Person follows agreed upon norms for behaviour in the organization. For example, employee stays late at night even if she has completed all her assignments because staying late is one of the norms of her organization.
Flattering others: Person compliments others profusely. But beyond a certain limit, the person is exposed.
Being Consistent: Person’s belief and behaviour are consistent.
Face-saving: Person apologies in case he has committed some mistakes.
Maintain a professional and well-groomed physical appearance: If you want a star role, you have to dress the part! In the career world, this means dressing professionally and attractively, exemplifying whatever dress code is appropriate for your particular workplace. While you usually won't be expected to wear the latest fashions, your clothes should be clean, pressed, and relatively new. Your personal appearance should also be neat and clean. This communicates the message that you are aware how you come across and committed to putting your best foot forward.
Use appropriate and positive body language: Develop body language that is both welcoming and confident. Maintain comfortable eye contact. Smile when it's appropriate, whether it’s the “social” smile or an authentic smile of joy. Reflect your self-confidence and self-esteem by standing straight and tall, with great posture and your head held high. Offer a firm handshake. Discuss ideas with open palms.
Develop relationships at the office: Strengthen your position in the team by cultivating friendly and positive relationships with your coworkers and superiors. This doesn't necessarily mean schmoozing, or professing your love for cats to your cat-loving boss – even though you’re allergic to felines. Chances are, you have at least one or two things in common with everyone at your office. Look for these shared interests or experiences, and use them as an opportunity to genuinely relate to your coworkers.
Be a team player: Be willing to cover your teammates' or your bosses' backs once in a while. This doesn't mean consistently taking the fall for someone else's incompetence; however, mistakes do happen, sometimes at inopportune times. If you can help minimize the fallout, you should do so. By helping your coworkers maintain their professional reputations, you'll earn their gratitude and respect, and they'll be more inclined to do the same for you in a similar situation. Besides, it's the golden rule.
Demotion preventive strategies
Accounts: Person explains the reasons of his/her failure
Apologies: Person simply apologies for his/her mistakes
Dissociation: Person dissociate himself from the group on the pretext that his voice/suggestions are unheard and that is why he should not be party to eventual failure of the project.
Promotion enhancing strategies
Entitlements: Person claims certain incentives/non-monetary reward as a matter of right after the project has succeeded.
Enhancements: Person asks for increasing incentives/non-monetary reward as he/she thinks that his/her efforts have not been compensated properly.
Obstacle disclosure: Person discloses the obstacles encountered during project implementation so as to claim better appreciation for his/her efforts.
Creating a politically correct impression
Frame arguments in terms of organizational goals
Develop right image
Gain control of organizational resources
Make yourself appear indispensable
Develop powerful allies
Avoid tainted members
Support your boss