“Is it Bad to Make a Good Impression?” Comments, Page 1

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10 Comments (4 Discussion Threads) on “Is it Bad to Make a Good Impression?”

  1. I share your discomfort, Evan. My discomfort is similar to yours: image is NOT everything,; image can be misleading or downright false. I too value a congruence between image/appearance/impression and reality. Reality being “what really happens,” the empirical facts, if you will. I think my experiences with disconnects btw image and reality are what lead me to be uncomfortable in the realm of image. If I don’t have a firm grasp of how “accurately” the image corresponds to the reality of a person, for example, I’ll wait to see how it plays out before taking the image as “the truth” of a person. Very interesting to think about this, Evan.

    Perhaps I’m hyper-tuned-in to discrepancies between the image a person “puts out there” and anything contradictory in their behavior etc. because of my experiences with a mother SO ultra concerned about her image. The twinkles of hypocrisy in her actions have made me more scrutinizing, more keen on comparing what someone SAYS they are and how they act. I find that people who say things like, “I’m the kind of person who…” tend to tell us what they WANT to be, not necessarily what they ARE.

    When I make a good impression, I’m of course glad because “image matters” in professional settings, etc. But in personal relationships, the “image matters” imperative falls away for me, because I don’t want to make a good impression, I want to be liked for who I am. I’ve had many friendships over the years that were based on a persona I developed to be friends, who I thought they would find interesting/funny/cool etc., but I eventually grow tired of playing the part that I developed for myself. When I let down the mask, I find the friendship wasn’t what I thought it was, and I feel like I cheat myself.

    Great post!

    1. Hi upsi, I hadn’t thought about the influence of parents and them being concerned for their image. I guess because this wasn’t a major concern of my parents, though they were concerned that us kids behaved well in public.

      Like you I especially don’t want to have to bother about creating an image in private relationships.

      Many thanks for your comment.

  2. Hi Evan,

    Coincidentally I am personally working on and with this idea of image, images that I have created and then continue to foster, images I want to reverse in some cases, and in others, be more in alignment with my values, while still maintaing flexibility.

    Just the idea I have a public and private self to ‘maintain’ is the first thing I have difficulty reconciling. I’m more of the mind, what you see is what you get, one of the things I value and have always had difficulty upholding. Of course, my behavior may be determined by what I’m doing, if I’m in a business meeting or at the beach. But to me, those scenarios are not the same split as a public and private self often is, whether out of necessity to conform to an employer’s expectations of ‘who you are’ in his eyes, who he wants or needs you to be or one’s own idea of who they should be in a business setting.

    Struggling with people pleasing all my life has proved that my image can be almost chameleon-like. And I’m truly exhausted having tried to be all things to all people. I knew this had to change, but I was at a loss how I might do so.

    In recent months I have been a member of a group. True to the past, I know I have a certain image with these people and I found myself attempting to uphold the image because that’s the person they knew. I didn’t realize I was doing this until I was in serious discomfort just being with the group. So I stopped meeting with these people for awhile to figure out what was wrong. It seemed it was this singular image I had created and felt it was what was expected, accepted and pretty much set. Showing up with a different image all of a sudden seemed just as strange. I figured no one would believe I was doing anything other than putting on an act. I found myself wondering what exactly I was doing, why I was doing it and how was I ever going to change it now?

    I spoke to my therapist to get a starting point. She compared my dilemma to an alcohlic’s. The alcoholic’s only priority when they’ve decided to change is to not drink. She said my only priority in every situation was to chose to keep all of my actions in alignment with what I felt was my most important value, even if only my most important value as a member of this group. She said it was likely I’d have to go thru this procedure many times as different things I valued came into my awareness and might be conflicting. She also said it was a 24/7 process, just like the alcoholic’s necessary diligence.

    From the sounds of it, my image then would still be changing, all the time, but the image would suit me and not the situation, the group, etc.. I think as long as my list of values includes, harm no one, I’d be covering the difficulty of keeping others in mind as I acted.

    Lot of complexity here. Good article, Evan.

    1. Thanks Barbara, that’s a great comment. As you say, lots of complexity.

      Negotiating our presence in groups can be tricky. I do think it is possible for people to be welcomed for who they are in groups and not get stuck in the past. This does take work but I have experienced this at times.

      The public and private self is a little different to the public and private usually spoken of I guess.

      I think this goes to a big theme – that as humans we learn most of what we know from others (especially in our early years), so that who we are is in one sense very relational. I don’t think I have the language to talk about this properly but thanks for raising it.

  3. “My inclination is to forget about the impression I create (the end) and to focus on engaging with what I’m doing (the means).”

    I am a bit confused – it seems you are saying on the one hand that you are uncomfortable with behaviour that is directed towards making a good impression, then you state here, that making an impression *is* ‘the end’. Seems almost as if you set out just to do what you were doing, and because someone else said you made a good impression you started worrying about your own hidden motivations…?

    I try to engage with what I am doing – as the end in itself, and I find when I manage to engage with it without anything getting in the way – I am more likely to make a good impression. But that’s a side-effect of concentrating and doing something well, like happiness, I suppose….

    1. Perhaps I am confused.

      Like you I do try to engage in the process. I guess my confusion my be about whether this leads to a good impression – and perhaps whether I should care.

      Thanks for your comment.

  4. There are times when it can be important to make a “good impression”, for example on a job interview. We like to show up clean, well groomed, with minty fresh breath, etc. I tend to be aware of how I appear to others, perhaps because I am self conscious. With close friends I don’t worry so much, but I still don’t want to offend anyone through my actions, words or appearance.

    I think the problem is when we try to project an image of someone different than who we really are. We might get away with it for a while, but ultimately someone will see through us. Celebrities, politicians, other people in the public eye must have a difficult time with this. On the one hand they are role models, on the other hand they also have their own personalities that they should be able to show the world.

    I am frequently surprised by how people perceive me. I struggle with this and I wonder if I am projecting someone who is not really me, or if people are seeing what they want to see. Or if I am in denial about the type of person I am.

    I don’t think it is bad to make a good impression, anymore than it is bad to try to be a good person. If we are true to ourselves, and if we are indeed good people who care about others, how can our impression be anything but good?

    1. Hi Harriet, funny you should mention job interviews – I loathe them with a passion, and consequently are rarely successful at them.

      As Sarah was perhaps suggesting in the previous comment I do think that stuff we are unconscious of can come out in our behaviour. In groups I have been in, as affirmation, people have shared what they have learned from me – and it was sometimes something I had no intention of teaching. These are interesting times for me.

      As you say, I don’t think it is necessarily bad to make a good impression. Thanks for your comment.

  5. Hi Evan,

    There’s a saying the the UK that some of my friends use when describing themselves: ‘what you see is what you get’, and I can honestly say that having seen them in all sorts of situations, for example, times of distress, happiness, general life etc. that the expression they use above is true; I envy that in them.

    I envy it because I know that I have ‘stage managed’ the impression I make to other people. Nevertheless, I mix with all kinds of social groups and certain kinds of behaviour in certain groups may offend those individuals. I have a degree and I’m interested in all kinds of thing from politics, the arts, psychology, ‘art house’ films and culture in general, socio political ideas etc. But, I live on a social housing estate where some people cannot hardly read or write and are certainly not capable of holding a conversation on cultural or political ideas. On the other hand when I have my weekly visit to the pub, there are some educated people there and so I am a different person again. I don’t fell bad for doing this; like others above, I do it primarily to make others feel comfortable in my company.

    At university we studied the idea of the ‘masks’ women put on within the work place whereby many men would not need to do this. Although having talked to men about this, many say that when they work primarily with men, the things they talk and laugh about, the way they behave in general together, would be very different than how they would behave at home. I think the difference is that women have had to become more male-like in order to be accepted and to be taken seriously; this certainly affected me. My ex partner who I worked with said that I behaved really ‘girly’ for a few days after meeting up with old girlfriends, but I would then return to ‘normal’: in fact then the mask that I started to wear at work became almost a permanent fixture.

    I know I’m partly dealing with gender issues here, but I still feel it’s the same sort of subject; the adoption of some kind of persona particular to circumstances. Much like comments above, I think in a professional situation or a social situation, if your mask is ‘means to an end’, and if the ‘ends’ truly ‘justify the means’ in that there are ethical and good reasons for the mask, then I don’t see a problem in that.

    A few years back, someone joined our group of friends; he seemed interesting, kind and clever. That all changed after a year and his ‘mask’ started to crack; he kept lying, became abusive and eventually we found out he was a crack addict, a very nasty individual: we couldn’t believe we had been deceived. Like most of these sorts of people, they eventually get found out.

    As for the rest of us, I’m sure we can be forgiven for occasionally trying to give our best impression to people: if we are genuinely good people, what is the problem with that?

  6. Hi Clare, yes this does play into gender issues somewhat. I guess the public sphere was male dominated for a long while and so the rules there suit (one kind of) male better than most females. Personally I’m not terribly and find pursuit of round objects a strange thing to do. I don’t fit male culture particularly well.

    I guess I should have examined more what the means involve in pursuing the end of a good impression. What the gains and losses were.

    Many thanks for engaging so fully with this topic.

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