Positive impressions

I am part way through a fascinating course about social psychology which has already given me a lot to think about. (Thanks to Coursera and Professor Scott Plous of Wesleyan University) One of the more interesting aspects has been research into making a positive impression and using the science of persuasion. It has made me think about how much impact we can have by what we do and don’t say and of course our actions.

The moment we walk into a room we are making an impression, whether that is positive or negative depends upon both us and the environment we are walking into. If we shuffle slowly into a room with our head down looking depressed that is exactly the way people will view us. That doesn’t mean that I am advocating people bounding into rooms looking over excited. It is more important to be aware of how other people may be viewing your behaviour, your actions and your demeanour.

Once we have gone through the door then judgements will be made about the things we say and don’t say. People make assessments all the time and will be looking for patterns of behaviour that make us easier to categorise and label. I started to think about whether we spend enough time considering how we present ourselves on a daily basis. Until the last few weeks it hasn’t been something I have spent too much time discussing.

With the growth of social media the way we present ourselves has now taken on a truly global perspective. Every time we post something, tweet or even write something like this blog then we are giving people an opportunity to assess us. So consider whether this activity is giving a positive impression of you? Can you afford to present an impression that is anything but positive?

There has been a lot of discussion about potential employers looking at an individual’s online presence to gather evidence. If we know this then surely we should take more care about those 140 characters, photographs and messages that we send every day. But so often we don’t and it may then lead us to regret how each of these messages build up an impression of us.

I don’t want to make people paranoid and unwilling to post any messages without a full assessment of what they feel the impact may be. What I do hope is that people stop and think about how they are using social media. What does it say about them? And above all is it leaving a positive impression?

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