Entry #18: Time-Tested Lessons from a Box of Verdun Chocolates: Presentation Matters!
Lesson from a Box of Cholocates
I recently received a box of Verdun Chocolates. Each individual piece was artistically wrapped in different colored foil and then sealed with a gold Verdun label. Even before tasting a single piece, I anticipated that each bite, each piece of chocolate, would be extraordinary. I was not disappointed. Lesson learned? Presentation matters.
While indeed the chocolates I received were truly excellent, I don’t know how they would compare in a blind test with other quality chocolates. I suspect my judgment may have been a bit biased because of the presentation. I was already sold before ever tasting a single chocolate.
How we present ourselves – the impressions we create – can significantly affect how others view us and how influential we will be in any given circumstance.
Decades ago, I read Dress for Success by John Molloy. Molloy had first studied the effect of how educators dress on classroom teaching credibility. Later he wrote books and gave workshops on how men and women in the workplace could manage their impressions by paying attention to how they dressed and accessorized themselves. Working in a corporate environment when I first read Molloy’s books, I quickly recognized the advantage of managing impressions. As research suggests, people who are in the position to promote or hire others often make decisions before an interview even begins.
In addition to how we present ourselves through dress, presentation of self can be extended through public presentations. As Warren Buffett claimed in a Professional Impressions article, the ability to present your ideas publically can increase your value by fifty percent.
Throughout my years in the corporate world and beyond, my ability to publicly present ideas not only gave me increased recognition but contributed to my ability to nail more interviews than I care to mention. I probably wasn’t always the best candidate, but I gave the impression that I was one of the best.
Impression Management as an Elder Woman
For nearly a quarter of a century, my work has focused on classroom teaching. Even though I am still teaching, I am no longer looking for validation or seeking promotions. I’ll be retiring in one year. Yet impressions for elders still matter. Particularly for those of us who live in Western cultures, being older is often perceived as having less value, less relevance. Yet I believe that through careful impression management, we can collectively change this general perception of elders.
I don’t want others to think of me as someone who is elderly, frail, and no longer has relevance. Therefore I continually have to think about how I manage the impressions I want others to have of me. I remind students in my classes that I am not elderly; rather, I am a “wise elder.” I try to wear clothing that is consistent with a style that fits me and leaves a lasting impression. I also speak regularly in my community and beyond as a way to keep relevant and to make a difference.
Here’s are my 2018 challenges for you: (1)Identify your style and pay attention to how you present yourself on a daily basis. (2) Cultivate skills needed to speak up, speak out, and be the difference in your community and beyond.