People see faster than they think. This is reality. In five seconds upon casting your eyes over someone you can pretty much decide what kind of person they are, and they are doing the same to you.
Perception is made up of several components: how you look and act, what you say, the choices you make, and the people you are associated with.
Here are the six most common myths I hear about perception, and what you can learn from them to help you in business:
“I don’t have to dress up. It doesn’t really matter.” Yes, it absolutely does. Would you do business with a person in tracksuit pants? There’s a reason people dress up; it insinuates that the event or situation warrants effort and respect. Also, it makes the wearer feel polished and confident.
“I can do whatever I want on social media – it’s my account.” Sure, if you’re not interested in building your brand or sustaining your business. Your virtual identity should be in line with your professional one; you cannot separate your actions online and in real life.
“People won’t judge.” Even if they don’t want to, they will. Being perceptive is not even a conscious choice – it is human nature. We all judge to some degree, and people in business have an especially trained eye.
“I’d know if I was giving off the wrong impression.” Not necessarily, in fact, if you are putting people off it is likely they won’t tell you to your face – even worse, they’ll avoid you at all costs.
“I’m dressed for the occasion and that’s enough.” Perception is a multifaceted beast; it extends far beyond your apparel. Everything is up for judgement; from how you stand, walk and talk to the kind of car you drive and technological devices you use.
“I can do whatever I want in my downtime.” This is one of the most common misconceptions. You are your brand 24 hours a day. The only place you are safe from judgement is within the four walls of your home. And the higher profile you have, the more visible you’ll be to others in everyday life.
Just remember that you are a walking, talking billboard for your brand and if you don’t manage it, society will for you.