Do you know the saying fine feathers make fine birds? There is a lot of truth in this statement, however, there are people who reject it. Of course, it is not very important how we dress and look in our private lives. This is our private matter, however, it gains in significance once we focus on our professional duties. The most important thing is that our clothing, behavior, gesticulation, or even facial expression and general appearance can be a decisive factor during business meetings that are carried out within the boundaries of our company and with its clients and contractors. A business partner who does not know us will create his mental image and opinion on the basis of what he sees at first glance. In many cases, such an image can be untrue and probably many of us are already aware of that. It is worth to ensure a good start in business meetings. Therefore, it is worth to gather some knowledge about self-presentation. As stated earlier, self-presentation is very important especially during the first stage of any business meeting. At the same time, it can influence the contacts with business partners which we establish during the course of our career. Therefore, let us now focus on the most important issues related to self-presentation.
Specialists in the field of self-presentation and psychologists alike agree that self-presentation habits are formed by the environment in which we live and function and our individual nature as well. There are various kinds of motivation that push us to form relations with other people. The nature of motivation depends on the kind of relations we wish to create. Because we are people who value highly comfortable life, we have a natural tendency to form positive relations. This is mirrored by the fact that most of our actions in this field aim at exerting a positive influence on others. Conscious and skillful self-presentation is very helpful in this.
A good impression
In order to present ourselves well during an official presentation or on a small business meeting, first of all, we have to work on establishing a high self-esteem and then on developing it as time passes by. We have to be certain that we are good at what we do, that we have the necessary knowledge and experience to do our work, and that, at the same time, we are highly valued by others. We cannot afford to create a negative impression of ourselves, even if it is just to a small degree. This leads to high levels of stress and to low self-esteem. Moreover, it can also lead to the loss or deterioration of relations with other people. A negative impression created among the contractors interested in our company may result in the loss of an important and lucrative contract. In consequence, the whole enterprise will suffer.
Personal image and the expectations of the surrounding environment
Two elements – the image of a person and the expectations towards him or her – can stand in opposition towards each other. This is why during our professional duties related to establishing contacts with other people (especially with entrepreneurs), it is advisable to adjust our image to the expectations of our surroundings. The pursuit to adjust to the existing conditions and expectations is a commonly accepted phenomenon, however, there is a certain degree of risk here that is usually met with social rejection.
While making an effort to adjust our image to the expectations of those who surround us we must not change ourselves because during meetings, speeches or any other kinds of presentations we will act artificially. This will surely make a negative impression on the participants of our discussion. Untrue, artificial qualities of our image which we try hard to impose on ourselves following the belief that our self-presentation will gain something are quickly and intuitively recognized by our business partners. It is best not to resort to such false image-creating, especially when we deal with people who specialize in contacts with clients.
Some highly valued qualities
If we want to achieve perfection in self-presentation, we should create, for our own personal needs, a list of qualities highly valued by other people. By following such values in our business contacts as well as in all other fields, we will successfully exert influence upon others and achieve the intended goals. Of course, the preparation of such a catalogue of qualities is not an easy task, however, it is well worth the effort. Such a list can become our ace in the hole; a tool that can be effectively used in many situations. The best managers who make conscious use of self-presentation create lists of commonly accepted and highly praised qualities and make use of them in practice.
We will now lift the veil and list some qualities which are highly valued by various social circles. Some of these qualities are:
the will to work
similarity and resemblance
the ability to make people like us
The ability to gradually uncover such qualities during a presentation or a business meeting guarantees success. We have to remember that a competent and qualified person is perceived by the society, and especially by business partners, as somebody who does good work in a larger group, e.g., during large scale projects that require cooperation. Such a person is far better at work than someone who is ignorant and thinks he is best at everything. People who lack the ability to learn from the opinions of others are unable to make good use of self-presentation. Those who are ignorant do not listen to others because they think that they know best how something should be done.
Self-promotion is a very important element of self-presentation. It is about the skillful use of spoken declarations, skills, abilities and competences. Self-presentation helps create and maintain a positive image of a person or a given social group. It is worth to emphasize that self-promotion is based not only on verbal expressions, but also on nonverbal methods of communication – gestures, facial expressions, or other types of body language. Moreover, the notion of self-promotion also includes actions which can be properly identified by our receivers, like business partners. In this context, in relation to self-presentation, we talk about the effectiveness of solving problems, the ability of reaching a consensus between quarreling people, the presentation of particular skills, and the careful and diligent fulfillment of the tasks assigned to us.
Self-promotion is not only about gestures and words, it is also about presenting ourselves as people who possess a variety of important qualities, such as honesty, reliability, diligence, and loyalty. Generally speaking, we might say that these qualities are, in fact, some common moral virtues. While working on self-promotion we have to show others that we possess such qualities. Of course, it is not enough to simply say that we are loyal or diligent. Our words have to be supported by solid facts. There must not be a discrepancy between what we say and what we do or have done. If such a negative situation appears, our credibility deteriorates and our self-presentation becomes ineffective at best.
The discrepancy between self-promotion and reality, and the overuse of self-promotion are two situations which we cannot afford to appear. Excessive boasting about our abilities makes our audience feel uneasy and may make them dislike us, even if they used to have warm feelings before. We must not allow that to happen. Arrogant, self-centered people who make a fuss about themselves and their work are very often disliked and rejected.
Hard work is highly valued
People value those who try hard to achieve a given goal, regardless if it is about a sports competition, some matter in private life, or professional duties. Our commitment does not go unnoticed by those who surround us. This is also a very positive element of self-presentation. We can make a positive impression on others simply by showing that we work harder and more effectively than our competition.
Every person who knows how to make others like him is automatically respected and, sometimes, even befriended. If we have this ability, it is easier for us to receive help or favor from other people and, frankly speaking, that is our main goal in most cases. If people have similar views on certain things or similar interests, it is highly probable that they will develop a highly positive relation. Trying hard to make others like us does not work because by doing this we do not create an impression of a person who deserves liking, on the contrary, we form a negative image of ourselves.
Self-presentation and particular jobs
Self-presentation is an important thing not only in the work of a manager or a person who is responsible in a company for the relations with business clients and contractors – there are jobs in which the skill of self-presentation determines if a person is good at fulfilling professional duties and has the potential to become a company’s asset. Here, we talk about the jobs of an assistant and a secretary. Apart from such qualities as proper formal education, competences, and diligence, such people should be friendly to others and helpful; they should be likeable, caring and resourceful. A good secretary who is good at self-presentation is invaluable to a director or manager of any company. He or she is the one who meets the clients and business partners of the company owner for the first time. If such a person creates a good impression, it is almost certain that good relations will be formed and this, in consequence, leads to the general improvement of a company’s financial results.
As we can now see, self-presentation and conscious use of it leads to many various positive effects not only in the field of business, but also in many other areas. However, we must be careful not to fall into extremes. If we approach the matter of self-presentation reasonably, it will become a very useful and effective tool.