Credibility: No longer just what you get in school?

Sunday, September 28th 2008

Hundreds of thousands of business people like us hit the streets everyday in hopes of obtaining that new job, promotion, sales position, or height in our career. Yet, even the most educated and well rounded of us are getting rejected, turned away and simply put on the back burner by those we approach; having no understanding as to what just happened. Despite the numerous seminars, workshops, degrees, certificates and masters, why are we having so many people left feeling frustrated and confused on how to get ahead?

Times are changing; technology is advancing and communicating is easier than ever. We are constantly stimulated by thousands of images a day that are pulling us in every direction. We have been trained to make snap decisions without much thought based on what does or does not visually appeal to us. This is why now, more than ever, it’s so important to watch what we communicate about ourselves to others.

In a study that was done by Dr. Albert Mehrabian at UCLA, it was found that our credibility is based on 3 factors; verbal, vocal and visual. Visual is 55% of the credibility pie, while vocal (the tonality in which you say things) came to 38%, and verbal (the facts we present) a measly 7%! Our entire visual presentation is comprised of; body language, physical characteristics, and clothing and grooming (the largest of the three) – which takes up 90% of the visual component for credibility!

Take two pictures; one of a person in casual clothing that looks unkempt with clothing that doesn’t fit quite right and the other of a person well manicured in a suit with a current hair cut and polished shoes. Now ask yourself the following questions about each person: What would you assume is their; income? Education? Respect from colleagues? Confidence? Personal happiness? Personality? Automobile? Do they work for themselves or are employed by someone else?

Your answers may shock you.

So can you “judge a book by its cover”? Absolutely. Those who say they didn’t would be lying. People can and will decide based on your appearance whether they can trust you, your knowledge, integrity and professionalism.

So how do we ensure that these questions posed by strangers go in our favour? Put some thought into your image, or better yet have a trained professional help you with it. Make sure you buy the best fit and quality you can afford. Don’t have threads coming out of your clothing. While discount stores are great for prices, remember: you get what you pay for. Be classic or current with what you wear and coordinate with class. Ensure that your hair, glasses, and shoes are up to date. If you’re not classic or current, it’s assumed your job skills aren’t either. And most importantly, SMILE be that charismatic and fabulous you!

Warmest wishes,

Christie Ressel, International Image Consultant and Stylist

Personal Power Image Consulting™©


*Toronto based image consulting