Image management is all about creating an impact on others in a very short period of time. It takes seconds for the other person to judge you on the basis of the first impression that you create. Although almost everyone has heard the term “First Impression”, it is not everyone who understands the importance and the science of it. Almost all of it happens through visual and non verbal communications which is the key factor in trying to create a positive first impression. Albert Mehrabian, a pioneer researcher of body language in 1950’s found that the total impact of a message is about 7 % verbal (words only) and 38 % vocal (including tone of voice, inflection and other sounds) and 55 % non verbal. Now this non verbal component includes various things but body language and clothes are the main elements. Effective image management is all about using these factors to work for you rather than working against you. A successful image consultant therefore must be able to advice clients to project the desired image by using these factors.
It is true that women are far more perceptive and intuitive than men. Psychologists at Harvard University showed women to be far more alert to body language cues than men. MRI scans of brains show women to have 14 to 16 areas of brain to evaluate other’s behaviour versus a man’s 4 to 6 areas. That is why they are so good at juggling many things at the same time. We have all heard about the famous woman’s intuition or sixth sense, haven’t we? And this connects to another very interesting point about astrologers, tarot card readers, psychics and fortune tellers. Research into the fortune telling business shows that most of the operators use a technique called “Cold Reading” which can bring about 80 % accuracy in reading a person you have never met. It is simply a process based on careful observation of body language signals plus an understanding of human nature and knowledge of probability statistics. Most of the practitioners in this business are women as they have extra capabilities to read body signals.
Also, women who have been mothers learn to read body signal of babies when they are small and cannot talk. This also gives them an extra edge and practice over and above their natural ability.
It is also to be understood that Image management has to deal with the inner issues of a client as well and at times the first session with an image consultant is more like a counselling session where at times the client opens his or heart out. It is generally seen that both men and women can open up in front of a woman but most of the times it is very difficult for a woman to open up in front of a man as they feel shy and also want to protect their vulnerability.
It is therefore easy to understand the dominance of women in image consulting profession.
But does that mean the men can’t do it? Not really. In the study conducted by Psychologists at Harvard University, it was also found that men who are in “nurturing” occupations, such as artistic types, acting, and nursing did as well as the woman. So there are men also who have that knack of becoming successful image consultants.
The author, Suman Agarwal, is the senior-most Image Consultant in the Indian Sub-continent and director of Image Consulting Business Institute. Image Consulting Business Institute is a pioneer in India and one of the biggest brands in the world in Image Management and Soft Skills Training Space. It offers programs for people to become Image Consultants and Soft Skills Trainers and at the same time offers Image Management and Soft Skills Training services to individuals and companies.