The significance of impression management in a relationship


Let’s face it. We all try to impress others – to put our best foot forward, to try to be a witty conversationalist, and to get people to like us. It’s called impression management. If you’ve been doing that and beating yourself up about being an attention seeker, guess what, you’re absolutely normal. Impression management is a conscious or subconscious process in which people attempt to influence the perceptions of other people about themselves, an object or an event. It is very important in the development and maintenance of relationships, and equally as critical in the world of business and effective leadership. See?

This also goes hand in hand with self-presentation, whereby a person tries to convey information about oneself – or an image of oneself – to others. There may be two motivations to self-presentation:

  • presentation meant to match one’s own self-image, and
  • presentation meant to match audience expectations and preferences

Boasting, flattery or ingratiation may fall under any of these categories depending on how you want to apply them.

But really, deliberately showing off a side of you that you want people to see and keeping the ugly side away can distort the rational judgement of anybody towards you, at least, temporarily long enough to get someone into a relationship or business deal with you. Now to maintain that connection or relationship is another ball game entirely. Now, when we hear the word vulnerable, a lot of us tend to perceive it as a sign of weakness which a lot of us don’t want people to describe us by. No problem. However, be mindful that some level of vulnerability is required to get you comfortable into any relationship at all, be it, social or business. You need to be vulnerable enough to allow yourself be yourself in that impression charade you are trying to keep up. You obviously don’t want to lose yourself in a bid to impress and keep a second party. What do I mean?

We need to monitor and control how we appear to others, but we also want to be straightforward and “authentic.” Here are some guidelines for how to manage the impression you make on others in an authentic way:

  1. Know yourself. Self-awareness is critically important in successful impression management and in being an authentic person. In the conglomeration of the different roles that we play, and believe me you do that from time to time, it is very important to have a sense of self and stay true to your values to avoid becoming a chameleon.
  2. Be thoughtful and prudent. I find I’m often unable to comport my words when I’m with someone who makes me nervous. Thereafter, I tell myself I need to maintain my composure when interacting with such people. I’ve learnt that it’s better to be an effective listeners, trying to understand others’ points of view rather than being carried away by oneself. We need to think about the consequences of our statements and our actions. Self-disclosure is an important part of forming a good relationship with others, but we need to be careful to not disclose too much information too fast, and always consider how the other person is reacting to what you tell them. I find that a lot of married women, in the desire of total trust and devotion to their husbands, they divulge too many unnecessary information all too regularly. And as men as men are, trust them to find the suitable one to use against you in the nearest future. I’m just saying.
  3. Master your emotions. Nothing creates a negative impression faster than an inappropriate emotional outburst. Emotions are important in connecting with others, but we need to regulate and moderate our emotions and our emotional displays. Negative reactions should always be displayed carefully and strategically. I can see how for leaders, it may critically important to show emotional restraint but to subtly let others know when you are pleased or displeased.
  4. Observe rules of etiquette. There are a range of social rules, or “norms” that tell us how we should behave in various social situations. As much as you want to prove that you are outstanding and different in a ‘choose-me’ way, trust me, you want to follow those rules. You will be glad you did eventually. To maintain a positive impression, it is critical to follow these social norms and demonstrate that you are mannered and mature in handling different situations. Being polite is always a good impression management strategy any day anyway.
  5. Have courage and conviction. For starters, how do you make an impression wishing someone will notice you when you haven’t done anything worth noticing? There are times when you need to be bold and courageous. Take the initiative to start up a conversation, for instance, or make an attempt to do something different or new. It is definitely important to stand up for principles that you believe in, speak up for what you think is right. Someone once told me, no question is silly and no act with good intention is always right. You just need to ask to be sure to do what is right and acceptable. People will respect you for being true.
  6. Be Positive. A smile and positive energy is always better than a negative tone. You don’t want to leave pessimism and a melancholic impression of you with people.

You want to get that man to notice you or that woman to be impressed by you, you need to learn the effective and authentic way(s) to go about it and more importantly, you need to be open/vulnerable in some ways to get the “staying” of the other person – if of course you intend a lasting relationship in any case.

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