I have often heard persons say, “I don’t care what others think about me”; I don’t care if people like me or not.” These are the statements of many who find themselves at odds with the opinions of others or even at odds within themselves, as they honestly assess the person they may be. Truth be told, we all want others to see us as confident, competent, and likeable — even if we don’t necessarily feel that way all the time. In fact, we make dozens of decisions every day — whether consciously or unconsciously — to get people to see us as we want to be seen. Self-presentation is any behavior or action made with the intention to influence or change how other people see you. Anytime we’re trying to get people to think of us a certain way, it’s an act of self-presentation. We work to present ourselves as favorably as possible. What that means can vary depending on the situation and the other person. I remember being socialized to value my personal appearance because it was felt that this would tell a story about who you were as an individual, good, or bad! Today in 2022, I wonder how many of our youths see any value in such a perspective or teaching.
Importance in Personal Presentation
If we were to consider our lives, we would realize that to some extent, every aspect of our lives depends on successful self-presentation. We want our families to feel that we are worthy of attention and love. At school we present ourselves as studious and responsible to our teachers. We want to seem fun and interesting socially, and confident at networking events. Even landing a job depends on you convincing the interviewer that you are the best person for the role.
There are three main reasons why people engage in self presentation: Tangible or social benefits: To achieve the results we want, it often requires that we behave a certain way.
In other words, certain behaviors are desirable in certain situations. Matching our behavior to the circumstances can help us connect to others,develop a sense of belonging, and attune to the needs and feelings of others.
To facilitate social interaction:
As mentioned, certain circumstances and roles call for certain behaviors.
Imagine a medical doctor.
Do you think of them a certain way? Do you have expectations for what they do — or don’t? If you saw them intoxicated, shaking and disheveled while on the job, would you feel confident with them treating you?
If the answer is no, then you have a good idea of why personal presentation is critical to social functioning. We’re surprised when people don’t present themselves in a way that we feel is consistent with the demands of their role.
Understanding what is expected of you — whether at home, work, or in relationships — may help you succeed by inspiring confidence in others.
Identity Construction: It’s not enough for us to declare who we are or what we want to be
— we must take actions consistent with that identity. In many cases, we also must get others to buy into this image of ourselves as well.
Whether it’s a personality trait or a promotion, it can be said that we’re not who we think we are, but who others see.
Areas of Personal Presentation
Improving personal presentation therefore requires a look at several different areas.
- Self-esteem and self-confidence – how you feel about yourself and your abilities.
- Personal appearance – how you look, and how other people see you.
- Non-verbal communication – your body language, voice, and facial expressions.
- Verbal communication – how you speak and use your words to make an impression.
- Behavior – how you behave more generally, including politeness.
Self-Esteem and Self-Confidence.
- Self-esteem and self-confidence are closely related, but not quite the same thing.
- Self-esteem is how you see and value yourself.
- Self-confidence is believing in or having faith in your ability, rather than yourself as a person.
Neither self-esteem nor self-confidence is static.
They vary because of numerous factors, including different situations and the presence of different people, personal stress levels and the level of change.
Low levels of self-esteem are often associated with low levels of confidence, but those with good self-esteem can also suffer from low confidence.
To improve your self-esteem and self-confidence, spend time thinking about how you value yourself.
Remind yourself of what is good about you and learn to manage the highs and lows of self-esteem. Try to avoid being affected too much by others’ opinions about you.
It is also worth practicing coming across as confident even when you are not, because those who appear confident are not only perceived as confident, but often actually become more confident.
We’ll conclude this topic next week