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Creating a Positive Professional Image By Tracy L. Chenoweth.

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1 Creating a Positive Professional Image By Tracy L. Chenoweth

2 How do you define the term "self image"? Self image is who you think you are. It's put together from how others have seen and treated you and from the conclusion you drew as you compared yourself to others. That self image is so strong that you'll spend the rest of your life validating it.

3 What do you think are the biggest obstacles we face in trying to develop a healthy self image? The media can be our enemy, because the images they portray on TV and in magazines is of the slim person. So the biggest problem people face with their self image is probably their body shape. Overweight, short, tall, bald, large nose, whatever it is, it's compared to what they see on TV. The media also promotes diets and exercise equipment, miracle creams and miracle drinks and people start comparing themselves to the people they see on TV. They start listening to the little inner voice that tells them "You could look like that, if you lost 50 pounds."

4 What else besides the media robs us of our self image? The other culprit is the way you were brought up. A critical element is the environment you grew up in. Was it an extremely negative environment or a nurturing environment? That can affect you for the rest of your life.

5 What does high self esteem" look like"? People with high self esteem exude confidence - in their posture, their voice and so on. They also have the ability to solve problems. They're not ones to sit around and worry, they don't allow themselves to have a negative attitude. They set about immediately to find a solution to the problem. They also have the ability to confront or eliminate things that frighten them, for instance, returning to school to further their education. People with healthy self esteem are also good at developing a support system, a group of people who help each other survive the rough times.

6 How would you describe low self esteem? People with low self esteem communicate a lack of confidence through their slumped posture, lack of direct eye contact, staying off by themselves. They may have been beaten down verbally earlier in life by someone who told them they'd never amount to anything. They may have had too many things go wrong in their life and they've just given up. They start to listen to and believe their negative inner thoughts. They don't trust their ability to make decisions. And those who can't cope at all often fall into depression. Many people become critical of others. I find this quite a bit in the business world. I often hear of a boss or supervisor that is extremely critical, always complaining, never complimenting. Very often, the boss is the one with low self esteem.

7 What is a professional image? Your professional image is the set of qualities and characteristics that represent perceptions of your competence and character as judged by your key constituents (i.e., clients, superiors, subordinates, colleagues).

8 Question for Thought What is the difference between "desired professional image" and "perceived professional image?" Is there even a difference?

9 Lets take a look It is important to distinguish between the image you want others to have of you and the image that you think people currently have of you. Most people want to be described as technically competent, socially skilled, of strong character and integrity, and committed to your work, your team, and your company. Research shows that the most favorably regarded traits are trustworthiness, caring, humility, and capability.

10 Ask yourself this question Ask yourself the question: What do I want my key constituents to say about me when I'm not in the room? This description is your desired professional image. Likewise, you might ask yourself the question: What am I concerned that my key constituents might say about me when I'm not in the room? The answer to this question represents your undesired professional image.

11 You can never know exactly what all of your key constituents think about you, or how they would describe you when you aren't in the room. You can, however, draw inferences about your current professional image based on your interactions with key constituents. People often give you direct feedback about your persona that tells you what they think about your level of competence, character, and commitment. Other times, you may receive indirect signals about your image, through job assignments or referrals and recommendations. Taken together, these direct and indirect signals shape your perceived professional image, your best guess of how you think your key constituents perceive you.

12 How do stereotypes affect perceived professional image? In the increasingly diverse, twenty-first century workplace, people face a number of complex challenges to creating a positive professional image. They often experience a significant incongruence between their desired professional image and their perceived professional image. In short, they are not perceived in the manner they desire; instead, their undesired professional image may be more closely aligned with how their key constituents actually perceive them.

13 What lies at the source of this incongruence? Three types of identity threatspredicaments, devaluation, and illegitimacycompromise key constituents' perceptions of technical competence, social competence, character, and commitment. All professionals will experience a "predicament" or event that reflects poorly on their competence, character, or commitment at some point in time, due to mistakes they have made in the past that have become public knowledge, or competency gaps (e.g., shortcomings or limitations in skill set or style).

14 Negative Stereotypes Members of negatively stereotyped identity groups may experience an additional form of identity threat known as "devaluation." Identity devaluation occurs when negative attributions about your social identity group (s) undermine key constituents' perceptions of your competence, character, or commitment. For example, African American men are stereotyped as being less intelligent and more likely to engage in criminal behavior than Caucasian men. Asian Americans are stereotyped as technically competent, but lacking in the social skills required to lead effectively. Working mothers are stereotyped as being less committed to their profession and less loyal to their employing organizations. All of these stereotypes pose obstacles for creating a positive professional image.

15 Positive Stereotypes Even positive stereotypes can pose a challenge for creating a positive professional image if someone is perceived as being unable to live up to favorable expectations of their social identity group(s). For example, clients may question the qualifications of a freshly minted MBA who is representing a prominent strategic consulting firm. Similarly, female medical students and residents are often mistaken for nurses or orderlies and challenged by patients who do not believe they are legitimate physicians.

16 What is impression management and what are its potential benefits? Despite the added complexity of managing stereotypes while also demonstrating competence, character, and commitment, there is promising news for creating your professional image! Impression management strategies enable you to explain predicaments, counter devaluation, and demonstrate legitimacy. People manage impressions through their non-verbal behavior (appearance, demeanor), verbal cues (vocal pitch, tone, and rate of speech, grammar and diction, disclosures), and demonstrative acts (citizenship, job performance).

17 Positive Distinctiveness Positive distinctiveness means using verbal and non- verbal cues to claim aspects of your identity that are personally and/or socially valued, in an attempt to create a new, more positive meaning for that identity. Positive distinctiveness usually involves attempts to educate others about the positive qualities of your identity group, advocate on behalf of members of your identity group, and incorporate your background and identity-related experiences into your workplace interactions and innovation.

18 Social Recategorization Social recategorization means using verbal and non- verbal cues to suppress other aspects of your identity that are personally and/or socially devalued, in an attempt to distance yourself from negative stereotypes associated with that group. Social recategorization involves minimization and avoidance strategies, such as physically and mentally conforming to the dominant workplace culture while being careful not to draw attention to identity group differences and one's unique cultural background.

19 Benefits? Successful impression management can generate a number of important personal and organizational benefits, including career advancement, client satisfaction, better work relationships (trust, intimacy, avoiding offense), group cohesiveness, a more pleasant organizational climate, and a more fulfilling work experience. However, when unsuccessfully employed, impression management attempts can lead to feelings of deception, delusion, preoccupation, distraction, futility, and manipulation.

20 What are the steps individuals should take to manage their professional image?

21 Step One First, you must realize that if you aren't managing your own professional image, someone else is. People are constantly observing your behavior and forming theories about your competence, character, and commitment, which are rapidly disseminated throughout your workplace. It is only wise to add your voice in framing others' theories about who you are and what you can accomplish.

22 Be the author of your own identity Take a strategic, proactive approach to managing your image:

23 Identify your ideal state What are the core competencies and character traits you want people to associate with you? Which of your social identities do you want to emphasize and incorporate into your workplace interactions, and which would you rather minimize?

24 Assess your current image, culture, and audience. What are the expectations for professionalism? How do others currently perceive you?

25 Conduct a cost-benefit analysis for image change Do you care about others' perceptions of you? Are you capable of changing your image? Are the benefits worth the costs? (Cognitive, psychological, emotional, physical effort)

26 Manage the effort you invest in the process Monitoring others' perceptions of you Monitoring your own behavior Strategic self-disclosure Preoccupation with proving worth and legitimacy

27 How Full is Your Bucket? Each of us has an invisible bucket. It is constantly emptied or filled, depending on what others say or do to us. When our bucket is full, we feel great. When it's empty, we feel awful. Each of us also has an invisible dipper. When we use that dipper to fill other people's buckets -- by saying or doing things to increase their positive emotions -- we also fill our own bucket. But when we use that dipper to dip from others' buckets -- by saying or doing things that decrease their positive emotions -- we diminish ourselves.

28 How Full is Your Bucket? Like the cup that runneth over, a full bucket gives us a positive outlook and renewed energy. Every drop in that bucket makes us stronger and more optimistic. But an empty bucket poisons our outlook, saps our energy, and undermines our will. That's why every time someone dips from our bucket, it hurts us. So we face a choice every moment of every day: We can fill one another's buckets, or we can dip from them. It's an important choice -- one that profoundly influences our relationships, productivity, health, and happiness.

29 Have you had a similar day? It's one of those days, you were late for work--not your fault. You transferred a telephone call which was somehow lost during the connection--not your fault. Your boss is late for a meeting, even though it's written in red on her calendar--not your fault. However, you are being blamed for all that has happened. It is hard to stay positive during times like these and even harder to keep a positive image when you really want to do is to toss all of this negative action back in someone's face.

30 What can you do to maintain your cool professionalism? Take a deep breath and try to stay calm Apologize in such a way where you are not accepting blame, simply showing concern and sympathy Get away from your desk for a few minutes; go to the rest room or make a cup tea, etc. Use 5 minutes to call a good friend, just to say hello Remember in the scheme of life, this is only one work day.

31 What to do If the negativity has somehow gotten to you, and you have been rude to a colleague or client (in your heart you always know), make sure you call the person before the end of the day to apologize or make amends. You will feel better and you will keep your positive image. You may even find that your colleague or client did not take offense to your harsh words or tirade. Don't falter, just explain that you felt the need to apologize because you thought that you over- stepped the line. End the telephone conversation by asking your client, etc., to please call at anytime with any questions he may have.

32 Remember You After such a day, you should do something nice for yourself. When you leave your place of business buy a bouquet of flowers for yourself, pick up deli or a salad, take in a movie or just relax with a good book when you get home. You owe this to yourself, not as a reward for keeping your temper in check or not punching someone when they were just begging for a good one to the nose. You will find that treating yourself well daily, helps you to get over life's bumps that get in the way of a good day.

33 Self Esteem Test Lets take a self assessment quiz For Fun Handouts

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