4 Keys to Impression Management

What is Impression Management?

Impression management exists in several forms and is evident in our everyday lives. Impression management occurs when, “individuals seek to create a desired image or invoke a desired response from others” (Encyclopedia.com, 2008). In other words, it is a way of presenting yourself to others and monitoring how others view you.

Impression management depends on three key items; your mindset, how you compare yourself to others, and how in tune you are to the environment. Cultural beliefs and attitudes also play a role, and vary dramatically, even from personal-life to work-life.

What is your Mindset?

There are two types of mindset; fixed and growth. Modest cultures tend to encourage a fixed mindset, while cultures of positivity have a growth mindset. Those who take on a mindset of growth will be better equipped to succeed professionally, whether it be as an employee, an executive, or business owner.

Let’s discuss this concept with an example. A few years ago, I purchased my very first dirt bike and decided to teach myself to ride. The first time on the bike, I did a wheelie down the street – it scared me out of my mind. If I had displayed a fixed mindset – I do not have the ability to ride the dirt bike, and that cannot be changed – I would have never rode the bike again. However, I utilized a growth mindset – my abilities can grow with practice. I have now ridden my bike up and down Montana Mountain, through Wyoming, and in Alaska.

I think it is vital to have someone who supports you when your mindset starts to become fixed. One of my mother’s favorite sayings is; “You can do anything you put your mind to.”  Do you have a positive influence in your life that encourages a mindset of growth and not ability?

How do you Compare Yourself to Others?

Social comparison is the concept that your attitude about yourself is a result of comparing yourself with others. Some people might encourage you to not compare yourself to others. While I agree, comparison can also be a way to learn. Most important, if you are going to compare yourself, pick good role models for social comparison.

Believe it or not, one of the most common ways people compare themselves to others is in tipping behaviors. However, as I just mentioned, who you choose to compare yourself with is very important. TIME Magazine published an article on the etiquette of tipping and the differences between cultures. In New Zealand, tipping is rare. In Japan, the absence of a tip is most courteous. In the United States, we differ very much from these other two cultures.

In short, everyone looks for comparisons. It is a behavior difficult to change, and in some cases necessary. Just make sure you are comparing apples-to-apples and not fruit-to-shoes.

How In Tune Are You?

In my opinion, this is the most valuable secret to achieving professional success. Social tuning is a phenomenon that occurs when you adapt another person’s attitudes and behaviors. Typically in a professional environment, this will occur between leadership staff and their employees.

Social tuning usually transpires because you feel a liking to the other individual, or want to be accepted by the person or group. This may happen when you meet someone for the first time, or with people that you know well. Sometimes, you will adapt to the situation subconsciously, but it can happen on a conscious level too.

Let’s walk through an example of social tuning. I have always been one of those people with a strict exercise routine. I went to the gym on my own, went through my same routine, and left the gym on my own. While I was working for a veterinary clinic, the owner wanted to encourage the staff to take care of their health, and purchased a gym membership for all of the employees. (Wow!) He encouraged those of us who already had an exercise routine to invite our colleagues to go to the gym with us – he loved working out in groups. I adapted my employer’s attitude and behavior for exercise because I wanted to be well-liked and a part of the group. And, you know what? Working out in a group is not so bad!

Social tuning allows people to learn about themselves and their environment while interacting with others. People adapt their own views to match those of the people surrounding them through social tuning in order to develop meaningful relationships. These relationships then play an integral role in developing one’s self-esteem and self-concept.

Additional Resources for Impression Management

We’ve covered a lot in this article. I can’t stress to you enough how important all of these concepts are to your success in life as an individual and a professional. I encourage you to take a look at these resources for more information.

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Hillary Kuenn is an ambitious, responsible and compassionate leader. I’ve known Hillary for several years and have had the opportunity to work with her, both under her guidance and in a collaborative capacity. She’s not one to settle for mediocrity, is consistent in her attention detail, and extremely intentional in implementing a clear vision and strategy as a business development manager. Hillary is also a great coach, providing encouragement and motivation, but also an objective opinion when you need to hear it. I highly recommend Hillary if have the opportunity to work with her. She is a business changer.

Robert C


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