Impression Management - Explained
What is Impression Management?
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Table of ContentsWhat is Impression Management?What is Impression Management Theory? How Did Impression Management Develop?What are Impression Management Tactics?
What is Impression Management?
Impression Management concerns controlling the perceptions of other people through controlled communications. The objective may be to have either a conscious or unconscious impact on the other person.
What is Impression Management Theory?
Impression management theory states that actions and activities must be consistent with the impression desired to be conveyed to the public.
This incorporate the idea that perception is reality. There is a presumption that the other’s perceptions of you or your organization become the reality from which they form ideas and the basis for intended behaviors.
How Did Impression Management Develop?
Ervin Goffman, a contributor to the study of Impression Management, uses an analogy to drama or stage performance in explaining impression management. He identifies two territories of our social behavior:
- Frontstage: The set of actions individuals perform according to their fixed function in the society. It allows individuals to show their formal and public profile to those who observe the performance.
- Backstage: The set of actions individuals perform "behind the scenes". An informal more relaxed and private zone of each individual. In this territory people don’t want or expect to be judged regarding their fixed function in the society. Backstage we are simultaneously safer and more vulnerable: It is here we change our mental, physical and moral "underwear". Backstage is thus a space for rest and "letting down one's guard", but also a space where one prepares oneself for frontstage performances.
Goffman believes that all our roles depend on the back region of an individual. And all front region roles can be sustained by keeping the audience out of the back region.
What are Impression Management Tactics?
- Behavioral Matching: The target of perception matches his/her behavior to that of the perceiver. Example: An employee tries to imitate his manager’s behavior by being modest and soft-spoken because his manager is modest and soft-spoken.
- Self-Promotion: The target tries to present her/himself in as positive a light as possible. Example: An employee reminds his manager about his past accomplishments and associates with co-workers who are evaluated highly.
- Conforming to Situational Norms: The target follows agreed-upon rules for behavior in the organization. Example: An employee stays late every night even if he has completed all of his assignments because staying late is one of the norms of his organization.
- Appreciating or Flattering Others: The target compliments the perceiver. This tactic works best when flattery is not extreme and when it involves a dimension important to the perceiver. Example: An employee compliments his manager on her excellent handling of a troublesome employee.
- Being Consistent: The target’s beliefs and behaviors are consistent. There is agreement between the target’s verbal and nonverbal behaviors. Example: An employee delivers a message to his manager and looks him straight in the eye and has a sincere expression on his face.