Your image can be positive or negative. There is ‘self-image’ (how you see yourself) and ‘public image’ (how others see you.) They are often quite different but they both depend on similar factors. So if you want to ‘think positive’ about changing or improving your image, the same positive steps will impact on both.

But is it really important what other people think of you? It may seem self-evident that you would want a good self-image, but does your public image matter so much? Well, firstly most of us like to be liked. Maybe that shouldn’t be so powerful (and it certainly should not be your only source of self-esteem) but in reality if someone we like also likes us, then that feels good (and so boosts our self-image.) Secondly, pragmatically speaking, you might need something: co-operation from a colleague, a favour from a friend, or a sale from a customer. How freely they give it will be influenced by their opinion of you. That’s the way the world is.

As the old saying goes, “The clothes maketh the man.” (and woman!) First impressions are formed from your appearance. Every social situation – the office, the pub, the funeral, the country walk – has its uniform: a set of clothes that is ‘appropriate’. There are times when you want to wear that uniform and others when you don’t. Do you want to fit in? Or do you want to stand out? You decide.

Health & Grooming
Like it or not, we are programmed by modern society to respond to people who are clean, fit and well-groomed; just look through a fashion magazine. If you eat healthily, look after your skin and hair and take some regular exercise then by today’s standards, your appearance will be improved.

Just as there is a uniform, there is also an accepted manner of speech depending on the situation. Whether business jargon in the office or football chants on the terraces, adopting the speech of those around you can create a positive image. Equally, it is not only the words you use but also how you use them. Do you interrupt people or wait until they’ve finished? Do you dismiss opposing views or politely disagree? Your language and way of speaking are a powerful part of your image.

It is not only your words that communicate to others. Your posture, your gestures, your movements all speak loudly. Likewise, your behaviour is also part of your image. For example, if you hold a door open for the person behind you they instantly see you as a kind and considerate person; if you let it slam in their face, they don’t. Simple, small actions tell others about you.

However, it is important to stress that this is not about having to change your personality. Your identity is complex and multi-faceted. Using your image to your advantage is about knowing yourself well and then deciding positively on what part of you to present in any given situation.

So, think about the image you project in different situations. Is it what you want?