These days everyone’s getting his or her credit score. In the recent past, we sort of knew whether we had good, bad or average credit ratings. It’s not so simple anymore. Today, there are variables that we aren’t even aware of that affect our credit score. So we go to the “experts” to get feedback.
It’s the same with your image. There’s one very simple reason we need to go to an expert to get feedback: we can’t be objective about ourselves. The average person looks, well, average. And his income is probably the same. Most of his/her neighbors, business associates and friends are in pretty much the same category when it comes to image and income.
If you want to produce an above-average income, you need to have an above- average image. Social psychologists like Robert Cialdini, PhD, have written about the connection between income and image for decades. Cialdini’s research demonstrated that most people think that if you look good you are good at what you do. He even discovered that you’ll get a much larger award from juries if you look good. You’ll definitely get the best seat in a restaurant.
Realtors are known for their business cards with color photos of themselves. Did you ever notice that you can usually tell the price range of the homes they list by that photo? Of course, there are some realtors who insist on dressing casually to “identify” with their clients, yet they don a suit in their photo. That’s a little like false advertising.
One realtor I knew insisted he would never wear a tie because all his clients dressed casually and were usually looking for property near the beach. Well, there is waterfront beach property that sells for millions, and there’s “beach property” that is miles from the beach, and it sells for a quarter of a million, tops. Which category do you think this realtor’s listings fell in? Not the first one. Yes, his listings were mostly tract homes in anonymous subdivisions.
Where’s a person to go for inspiration and guidance when it comes to image? We used to be able to look to our local officials, college professors and corporate leaders. Not so anymore. Recently, an article entitled “Getting Comfortable with Casual Wear” appeared in the business section of a reputable newspaper. Managers appeared in jeans and golf shirts, and they reported they loved the business casual policy their firms have. Who wouldn’t? It’s pretty much like asking children if they like being permitted to eat burgers, pizzas, candy bars and soft drinks for every meal.
It’s time we faced the fact that productivity is down dramatically in this country. Manners have all but disappeared, and most young hires don’t have a clue about etiquette. They know even less about image skills. They are quick to point out that they wear a tie or suit “when necessary.”
When necessary? If you feel good about who you are and what you do, you should want to shout it to the world by looking like a mover and shaker all the time. You never know who you might run into at lunch or at local shops. You sell yourself short when your appearance suggests you’re ready to clean out the garage.
Furthermore, if you don’t “wear a tie” regularly, you’re likely to feel like an imposter when you do. It’s just not the real “you.” If you’re meeting with a prospective client, unfortunately, you may come across as a “greenhorn” with very little experience, because it will be obvious you’re not comfortable in your skin when you’re dressed professionally.
A bad credit score can affect your future. A bad image can do the same. Image doesn’t cost, it pays. It pays not only in your professional life, but in your personal life. Clients remark to me that when they are shopping, they get deferential treatment. “People treat me as if I were a celebrity of VIP,” they remark. Quite a few found the love of their life shortly after an image transformation. Yes, we do appear to judge a book by its cover.
What’s your image score? Does it reflect success or failure? Is your “cover” a best seller, or does it sit on the shelf collecting dust? Your reputation demands an image that is beyond comparison. Don’t let yourself down.
Sandy Dumont is an image consultant with clients on three continents. She is the author of several books, DVDs and boxed sets on the subject of image. She’s the go-to person when business casual has morphed into “business casualty”. Contact her at www.theimagearchitect.com.