Coach's Corner

Impression Management
May 9, 2022
Elyse Bultemeier
Coach's Corner

Today we hear from Elyse Bultemeier, in her 5th year as a research associate at Gladieux Consulting, about some of her recent studies in communication.

Hi Elyse,
What stands out as most helpful in your research about impression management? What is it and how can we benefit from it?

- Michelle Gladieux

Elyse: This term was new to me, but I quickly learned it’s embedded in all forms of communication. Impression management is making an effort to balance who you are with how people perceive you. It requires healthy self-awareness of your strengths so you can advocate for yourself. 

It’s important to note that impression management is not bragging. Instead, it’s finding the overlap between your skills and communicating them in a way that provides opportunities aligned with your goals. While some people misuse impression management to manipulate how others perceive them, there is a lot of good that can come from this communication tool when it’s used ethically.

Just as you choose different clothes for various occasions, each conversation allows you to don different communication styles. Most of this happens unconsciously. Being aware of what you project to others allows you to apply ethical influence and value yourself. This can lead to personal growth and serving others while opening new paths.

The ability to adapt doesn’t make you a shifty communicator. Rather, it shows high emotional intelligence via self-awareness. It can enable you to challenge preconceived ideas, false impressions or simply make people aware of what you have to give. Here are some steps to apply impression management in your everyday communication:

1. Self-awareness: Know your personality, communication style and goals. Understanding your strengths and weaknesses and asking for feedback allow you to grow at every age. You can’t expect people to form accurate opinions of you if you don’t know yourself.

2. Emotional intelligence: Tune in to the feelings of those around you to recognize impressions others form. Sometimes there’s a discrepancy between how you think you’re coming across and how others perceive you. As an introvert, I know first-hand how often this happens. Not being as outspoken as others or avoiding criticism can lead to not stepping up when warranted. If you’re not rising to your potential because of a lack of confidence or fear of effort involved in sharing your knowledge, you risk being viewed as incompetent.

3. Counter self-deprecation in your inner dialogue: When we think we’re not good enough, we miss out on learning and those around us lose out on gifts we could share.

Impression management steps in the written word include a thoughtfully crafted email, thank you note, or gaining recognition by contributing to your company newsletter or an industry publication. Showing interest in those around you keeps communication flowing so you can share your gifts. You may just happen to be in the right place at the right time when an opportunity unfolds. 


Are you dealing with a career or communication challenge? If you’ve got a question, write to Michelle@GladieuxConsulting.com for consideration. Questions remain confidential and anonymous.



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