Looks, actions and speech shape how others perceive us.  And that can influence our success, according to Harvard social psychologist Amy Cuddy. She says we have just milliseconds to make a first impression. Appearing consistent, likable, and trustworthy makes us competitive.

The five most common image breakers include …  

  1. Ill-fitting clothes.  Clothes that are too big or too small, too long or too short look cheap and unkempt. That can make you appear sloppy or disorganized.  Unless your clothes are custom-made, find a good seamstress or tailor to manage hems and such.
  2. Smelling strong. From bad breath and body odor to heavy cologne, people are turned off by strong smells. Unpleasant odors leave negative impressions. It’s good to know that, after a short time, your sense of smell becomes immune to a fragrance. And that’s why some people douse themselves in too much. Don’t be that person.
  3. Revealing too much.  In a professional work environment, low necklines and short skirts detract from credibility.  With that in mind, wear a jacket – not a short sleeve shirt or sweater – when making a presentation or talking to upper management.
  4. Speaking negatively.  Gossip, profanity and off-color jokes may be an instant deal-breaker. Why risk them.
  5. Talking without listening.  When meeting someone for the first time, introduce yourself and give your “30-second commercial” if they ask what you do. Then, ask what they do and be honestly interested in the answer.  People want to know you care before they want to know how much you know.  Gain their trust by listening and engaging in what they are saying.  Smile and nod your head to show interest and agreement when appropriate. Don’t hog the conversation or interrupt others.
The less skin you show the more professional you will be perceived.

These are just a few image breakers.  What things have you experienced that left a poor impression by someone you have encountered?  Stay tuned next time for the Top Five Image Makers.

Pat Gibson coaches professionals to examine their behaviors, self-expression, and style to ensure that they are creating the best personal and visual brands for personal and professional success.  Take The Artistry of You Image Assessment here to see how your visual brand rates. Reach Pat to schedule your 15-minute discovery session at pgibson@theartistryofyou.com.