You and I are about to meet for the very first time. You walk into the room. I rise to greet you and shake your hand.

What do I see?

Hard to picture, isn’t it? As humans, we are abundantly accustomed to extrospection—looking outside ourselves, at the world, and making swift deductions based upon what we see.

We are much less accustomed to including ourselves in that visual frame, chiefly because our eyes look outward—at others, not ourselves. We clock their speech, attire, gestures, and other cues, and hastily assemble a thumbnail sketch about them in our minds. Avoid ‘Mmm, nice!’ Caution: ‘Wait, don’t I know him?’ And more.

We do this to others. Others do this to us.

Another kind of communication

Many fail to act on this keen fact.

By crafting the most authentic and attractive version of ourselves, particularly in the professional realm, we can do much to direct the look and shape of the sketch others make of us.

By doing this, we are effectively taking the reins in determining how others will perceive—and subsequently receive us. Choosing to self-direct others in this way is particularly useful when meeting new clients and employees, when impressions are assembled in seconds—and there’s little time to correct, redact, or shore up initial misimpressions.

Let’s focus on one of the most immediate, visible, and woefully under-utilised facets of your presentation: style. This includes everything from your shoes up to your shirt, and if you’re the jewellery-wearing sort, well, that too. If you have it in your mind that clothes, shoes, and accessories are trifles, something for the vain or leisured sets to focus on while you attend to more pressing matters, you are leaving a powerful communication tool on the table.