Impression Management Techniques

We know that people have an ongoing interest in how others perceive and evaluate them.

For example, North Americans spend billions of dollars on diets, health club memberships, cosmetics, and plastic surgery – all intended to make them more attractive to others. Being perceived positively by others should have benefits for people in the organization.

It might, for instance, help them initially to get the jobs they want in an organization and, once hired, to get favorable evaluations, superior salary increases, and more rapid promotions. In a political context, it might help sway the distribution of advantages in their favor.

The process by which individuals attempt to control the impression others form of them is called impression management. It’s a subject that has gained the attention of OB researchers only recently.

Keep in mind that IM does not imply that impressions people convey are necessarily false.

Excuses, for instance, may be offered with sincerity. Referring to the example used in Figure you c’an actually believe that ads contribute little to sales in your region. But misrepresentation can have a high cost. If the image claimed is false, you may be discredited.

Impression Management Techniques are;

  1. Conformity.
  2. Excuses.
  3. Apologies.
  4. Self-promotion.
  5. Flattery.
  6. Favors.
  7. Association.

The following table provides some examples of Impression Management Techniques;

Impression Management Techniques

Conformity

Agreeing with someone else’s opinion in order to gain his or her approval.

Example: A manager tells his boss, “You are absolutely right on your reorganization plan for the western regional office. I couldn’t agree with you more.

Excuses

Explanations of a predicament-creating event aimed at minimizing the apparent severity of the predicament.

Examples: Sales manager to the boss, “we failed to get the ad in the paper on time, but no one responds to those ads anyway.”

Apologies

Admitting responsibility for an undesirable event and simultaneously seeking to get a pardon for the action.

Example: Employee to the boss, “I’m sorry I made a mistake on the report. Please forgive me.”

Self-promotion

Highlighting one’s best qualities, downplaying one’s deficits, and calling attention to one’s achievements.

Example: A salesperson tells his boss, “Matt worked unsuccessfully for three years to try to get the account. I sewed it up in six weeks. I’m the best closer this company has”.

Flattery

Complimenting others about their virtues in an effort to make oneself appear perceptive and likable.

Example: New sales trainee to peer, “You handled that client’s complaint so tactfully! I could never have handled that as well as you did.”

Favors

Doing something nice for someone to gain that person’s approval.

Example: Sales person to a prospective client, “I’ve got two tickets to the theatre tonight that I can’t use. Take them. Consider it a thank – you for taking the time to talk with me.”

Association

Enhancing or protecting one’s image by managing information about people and things with which one is associated.

Example: A job applicant says to an interviewer, “What a coincidence. Your boss and I Were roommates in college.”

 

Most of the studies undertaken to test the effectiveness of IM techniques have been limited to determining whether IM behavior is related to job interviews success.

Employment interviews make a particularly relevant area of study since applicants are clearly attempting to present positive images of themselves and there are relatively objective outcome measures. The evidence indicates that IM behavior works.

In one study, for instance, interviewers felt that applicants for a position as a customer service representative who used IM techniques performed better in the interview, and they seemed somewhat more inclined to hire these people.

Moreover, when the researchers considered applicants’ credentials, they concluded that it was the IM techniques alone that influenced the interviewers.

That is, it didn’t seem to matter if applicants were well or poorly qualified. If they used IM techniques, they did better in the interview.

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