Impression management is defined as a process where someone or other tries to influence the decision, opinion or observation of others about something or someone in particular. Within a business entity, it can be someone in a management position who might try to regulate information during his interaction with other employees or even the general public.
Meaning of impression management
Impression management is described as an effort that can be both conscious and subconscious. It happens because individuals are interested in changing the perception of other people regarding an event, a person or something. In business, this is a very effective strategy as it helps to enhance the brand image and boost sales figures.
The concept of impression management is used in both every day in personal life and professional life with friends, family members, colleagues, and peers. With the help of this process, the people try to align the perception of other individuals with their own goals and objectives.
It is also applicable in academic fields of study, for instance, sociology and psychology along with functional areas like media and corporate communication.
Motives behind impression management
Managing impressions is what impression management is all about. The concept tries to create a positive impression to boost its revenue figures. The two main motives behind the process of impression management are
1. Expressive motive
This concept is the result of an individual’s response towards expectations, restrictions or social norms. Expressive motive encourages a person to be in charge of his behaviour and identity and influence others accordingly.
2. Instrumental motive
It is the aspiration of a person to boost his self-esteem to gain desired rewards. This is why he tries to use influence and perception to get back something from other individuals.
Examples of impression management
We see instances of impression management in business via the advertising strategies that the entities have conceptualized. The promotional policies of all the organizations are centered around a theme that will encourage consumer’s attention and nudge them to buy the related product or service.
For example, a soft drink company will emphasize on the taste of its drink and not on the caffeine content that the cola drink has.
Another typical example of impression management is how a person behaves at home and in the outer world. When he is with family members he is himself with all his good and evil, strengths and shortcomings exposed, but when he is in a social setting, he is at his best with proper behavior and all his good points at the forefront.
Tactics of impression management
Some typical behavior and tactics that people use to manipulate impressions are
1. Lying or gossiping
People tend to resort to lying or gossiping to change a particular outcome as part of impression management
A person uses aggression so that he can compel others to obey him and this is a form of bullying for impression management
An individual uses flowery words to improve his standing in the hope that others will like him better because of it. This is also a form of impression management
The way a person dresses shows his desire to manage and change the perception of the person with whom he is going to come into contact.
5. Conforming to social norms
A person follows all the agreed-upon rules and regulations for behavior to make a favorable impression. For instance, an employee stays late even if he has completed his work because his boss is still in the office and leaving after he has left is the usual norm in his organization.
This is self-presentation and includes excessive bluster to gain acceptance.
In this form of impression management a person displays his skills, know-how, and success to others to promote himself and improve his image
It is also a form of impression management where a person shows his shortcomings to appear needy or to gain desperate approval from others
9. Behavioral matching
This tactic of impression management is used by a person who wants to match his behavior with someone superior or even a colleague to make a favorable impression. If an employee’s boss is soft-spoken, then he will naturally try to control his aggression and show his modest and soft-spoken side in front of the boss to create a good impression
This is one of the most popular tactics of impression management where a person compliments another person on being in his good books
Strategies of impression management
It is a fact that perception matter in an organization. The managers must monitor their attributions, perceptions, opinions, and assumptions so that they can treat every single employee as a unique person.
This will help in organizational growth and development. Individuals can use two types of basic strategies as part of the impression management concept. These are
1. The demotion-preventive strategy of impression management
If an individual is trying to stay out of some trouble or issue or is trying to lessen the impact or responsibility of an adverse event, he will be using a Demotion-preventive strategy of impression management. The essential characteristics of Demotion-preventive strategy of impression management are as follows-
- An individual will try to justify his actions with whatever means at his disposal. He will try to find viable excuses for his actions so that he can prove himself right
- Employees are telling their superiors or boss in confidence that although they were fighting for the right thing, they were ultimately overruled and dismissed. This strategy is used by employees or individuals that are looking for ways to disassociate themselves from a specific issue or a particular group
- An employee in an organization will offer his apologies to his superior or his boss for some adverse event to lessen its impact on himself
2. The promotion-enhancing strategy of impression management
If an individual is looking to appear much better than he is or is trying to increase his responsibility for a positive outcome, then he will tilt towards a Promotion-enhancing strategy of impression management. The essential characteristics of Promotion-enhancing strategy of impression management are as follows-
- A person or an employee in an organization harboring a feeling that he has not been given credit for the positive outcome or that his accomplishments have not been acknowledged
- A person or an employee identifying obstacles that can be either personal or related to the organization and then overcoming those obstacles to achieve a positive outcome expects a higher credit in front of others
- A person or an employee pointing out that his contribution was more, but even then he was accorded lesser credit
- An individual or an employee makes sure that he is in most cases seen with the right people at the right time to boost his impression on others
How to manage impression in an effective manner
Human beings are inclined to manage impressions either subconsciously or in a conscious way so that they can place their best foot forward. This is so because everyone wants others to have a good impression and like them. It becomes necessary to control and monitor responses and the way a person authentically appears in front of others.
Some important guidelines to manage impressions effectively are as follows
One of the essential criteria of impression management is self-awareness. A person must be aware of his worth, about who he is and what he stands for. There are hordes of people who are part of a crowd and cruise along with others.
Refrain from being an individual who fits in instead be someone that stands out even in a group because of a strong personality. One can show himself in good light only when he knows himself inside-out.
This self-awareness will prove a blessing when he is standing in a crowd and can mold the impressions and assumptions of others to suit his needs and wants.
2. Observe dignity and decorum
There are already established norms in place that guide a person and show him the behavior that is considered acceptable and which is not in both professional environments and social settings. Observe propriety and decorum along with set rules of etiquette if you are looking for ways to implement an effective impression management strategy.
It is critical to follow the set standards to the dot and make a right and favorable impression on others. Once you have established your reputation, it becomes easy to influence others in different situations.
3. Be thoughtful
Do not take any random actions because a person who is intelligent and wants to make a difference will think his actions through and then make a gesture. Being thoughtful is an essential trait if you are looking for ways to boost your impression management strategy. Take the help of this skill while interacting with others as it will encourage you to be mindful of others.
Be a good listener to understand the viewpoint of others and now make think about your action and its consequences. This will help a person in making changes in his attitude so that he can influence the impressions of others. Some people believe that disclosing personal things about themselves will cement their relationship and make it stronger.
Still, it is a fact that one should be very careful while disclosing own stuff to others. Today you might have a good relationship, but no one has seen the future, and one cannot predict what it will look like in later years. Be thoughtful and divulge only that much information that will have the least repercussion in your life in case of any leak. Sometimes people only try to act as your well-wisher, and you do not want them to misuse any confidential information about yourself.
Be prudent and thoughtful if you are effectually looking for impression management.
4. Have the courage
Be bold and courageous if you want to make a change. If you are a yes-man, then you can only nod your head and follow the lead of others. It is imperative to have the conviction that you will be able to do it and the courage that will be needed to implement whatever is going in your head.
Be a leader and take the necessary initiative to make a change so that you can easily influence the assumptions and impressions of another person.
People will respect you for taking the lead and will align with your convictions if you show that you are worthy of that respect from others.
5. Control your emotions
Being emotional is not always a good thing as you cannot let it have a direct impact on your decision-making abilities. Be mindful of every situation and react appropriately if you are looking for ways to implement an effective impression management strategy.
Emotions no doubt will help a person in making good emotional contact, but one should be able to draw impeccable boundaries to avoid any emotional scenes or displays. Negative emotions like disgust, irritation, and anger can prove your downfall; try to avoid them at all costs in social or public settings.
Emotional restraint is a soft skill that one should be adept at if he wants to succeed in the professional world. Be subtle and only let out a glimpse of those emotions that you are relevant to then to make your point.
6. Be positive
Optimistic nature and positive behavior are appreciated by one and all. Be positive if you are looking for ways to implement proper and effective impression management theory.
Individuals who show this trait can influence others very easily.