Observing Your Self-Presentation

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BetterUp Studios

10 min

Man in Suit

If you are seeking an executive position, your self-presentation is critical. Executive presence can mean the difference between making a good impression and not making one at all. Follow these steps to help you become more aware of your presence and target areas where you'd like to change.


  1. Reflect on the mannerisms and habits you’ve picked up in the course of your life. Cultural practices can be an easy place to start. For example, most Asian cultures focus less on outward appearance as a statement of status. This might come across in avoiding flashy everyday attire or in certain mannerisms like covering your face when you laugh. Examine how your behaviors align with those of your culture.
  2. Ask yourself how you typically convey key emotional states through verbal and non-verbal communication. Examples of states might include: confident; engaged; in your element; motivated; defensive; anxious; angry.
  3. Identify areas where you'd like to change and set goals. Don't try to change everything at once. Choose three to five habits to target, then make a plan for each one.
  4. Consider whether you can tackle a habit by eliminating an underlying cause. For example, if you tend to become short with others when anxious, you might target your anxiety through deep breathing.
  5. Try attacking a problem from an unexpected angle. If your posture looks defensive to others, maybe a new wardrobe will help you carry yourself more confidently.
  6. Make a plan to eliminate undesirable behavior by identifying positive actions to replace them. Instead of "I won't bite my nails anymore," try, "when my hands want to fidget, I'll lace them together and rest them on my desk."
  7. (Optional) Share your observations and seek feedback. Find someone who you trust and who will have an unbiased opinion. Listen with intent, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Whether you solicit feedback or not, don’t keep this project a secret. This is your journey, and support is an essential part of it. A team member or mentor can give valuable encouragement.

Finally, if changing your self-presentation seems like a formidable task, remember that simply being more aware of behavior often changes it for the better.

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