If you love to people watch like I do, then you’ve certainly played the “imagine this…” game. I find myself doing this a lot in airports: Imagine this guy walking towards me, dressed in a classic tailored suit, with a brisk stride and focused gaze, is a banker. He may work on Wall Street. I imagine he drives a high end car, like a BMW or Mercedes. Maybe he and the family (he wears a wedding ring) vacation on the coast. Someplace nice. He appears successful and confident.  I surmise all this from his appearance, body language and his posturing. He does not hesitate, he makes firm and appropriate eye contact with airport personnel, and seems to know exactly where he’s going… in the airport and maybe in life.

His personal style and image, and his body language all give me indications of who he might be. Could I be wrong? Certainly! Could your posturing and image be sending the wrong impression about you? Possibly.

Our image and posturing (how we carry ourselves, our demeanor and the attitude of our tone of voice) all create a defined impression. Since perception is real to the people who experience our behavior, this impression becomes the story other people invent about who we are.

When you yell at the cashier, you might create the impression you are hot headed. When you help a stranger with directions, you might create a perception that you are helpful and attentive. And, when you disregard the impression you are creating, you might send the message you are indifferent, and possibly even arrogant.

I recently had the good fortune to hire a bright woman as my new personal assistant. She always presents herself as polished and manicured. Even on the days when I tell her she can “dress comfortably” because we have no client meetings, she is always well groomed and dressed. I asked her why: “When I am working for you, I represent you,” she told me. “It doesn’t matter if I’m at the post office, a client meeting or in line at the office supply store. I represent the LIDA360 brand and that means I am professionally dressed.” Wow! She gets it!

As I sit here typing this blog post, in the Chicago airport, I am conscious of the image I project. I make sure I don’t send mixed signals about my confidence, helpfulness and professional demeanor. Even though I am on the home-bound segment of my travels, I dress well and make sure my behavior is professional.  I am passionate about the experience clients and prospects get from LIDA360 and I consider myself an ambassador for the brand.