Howdy. No, I'm not going to get all metaphysical on you. Maybe a little, but nothing overbearing. In so many ways, the perception of reality is more important than reality itself. Especially when relating to people. If you want others to have a favorable impression of you, then you need to cater to what you hope is the best possible image.

For example, if you are going to a job interview as a rocket scientist, you do not show up with low-riding baggy pants, a sideways baseball cap (other than ugly in the first place, it is now horribly out of style with those users as well), three days' beard, using profanity, smelling bad and so forth. The reality is that you are the Next Great Thing in Rocketry, but nobody will want to give you the time of day because the perception is that you are a buffoon.

But everybody should know that.

"How about something more practical, Cowboy?"

I reckon so.

How do you present yourself in print? Whether you are writing a letter using real pen and paper, or writing in a forum, I strongly recommend that you pay attention to spelling and grammar. Yes, some lapses in grammar can be forgiven because of the nature of forums (and to be conversational in the first place), but the more egregious grammar should be repaired. Take a refresher course if you need to. One thing that seems to have cropped up that bugs the sap out of me is the word "myself", especially when it is added to other bad grammar: "Myself and Barry were investigating..." I almost want to slap those guys on Ghost Hunters International when they do that! It should be, "Barry and I...", and saying "myself" is an effort to appear more edjamakated than you really are. It fails.

If you're going to impersonate a governor, make sure that you have your grammar all figured out as well:

Watch out for slang. Not only do many slang terms fall by the wayside in a hurry, you sound foolish. Some people consider slang to be only slightly above using profanity. Hey, try this in a job interview: "Damn straight, Daddy-O! I'm a hep cat! When we're done, I'm gonna check out your secretary's badonkadonk some more, yo."

Notice that many of those things I am pointing out (should I say, "Myself is pointing out"...aargh!) apply to daily speech as well. No, you don't need to be a pompous ass at any time, but perhaps you can pay attention to your wording and present yourself slightly more better? (Are these deliberate errors doing anything for you?)

If you are going for an image that you decided that you want to project, or are among friends, naturally many of the rules do not apply. But then again, do you want to appear like a dolt if you become too lax?

If you want to be taken seriously, try to minimize the mistakes in spelling and grammar. No need for pompous words (cowboys use smaller words so they can be understood; sometimes I fail in that regard) any more than you need. By the way, pay attention to those red lines that appear under poorly-spelled words, they are attempting to tell you something. (Hint: A right-click will usually give you the correctly spelled word.)

What is the perception people have of you? Is it anything near the truth? What are you doing to cause that perception? You can influence perceptions so that they reflect reality. At least, when it involves perceptions of you.

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Comment by Cowboy Bob Sorensen on September 28, 2009 at 7:57am
James, you obviously know full well how someone's appearance can affect their future.
Comment by James Wells on September 28, 2009 at 7:33am
Excellent post. I manage engineers and have to hire people from time to time. The perception that thet are doofus usually ruins it for them.

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