How do your patients view you “as a person”? Is the personal image you project the one you want to portray? For many clinicians, your professional effectiveness may rely upon being a “blank screen.” But the reality is that you can’t completely avoid revealing some distinctive aspects of yourself and your personality, especially if you live and practice in a small town. Keep this in mind and make sure the personal view of you is a positive one.
You sit in your office all day so, sure, you want to feel comfortable but be sure you don’t look like you’re going to a backyard cookout. You may have a great sense of “style” and sport the best designer jeans and sandals, but unless you specialize in working with patients in industries that dress very casually, the personal image you’re projecting may be viewed negatively. Women practitioners are especially vulnerable to criticism about how they look because even little things, like the type of accessories you wear, can spark a negative reaction. Often this is less a matter of fashion than it is the incongruence of your personal presentation with your practice brand. When patients are paying top dollar to work with you, for example, they want you to look like you’re “worth it.”
Your Personal Opinions
Do your personal views match your practice perspectives and values? You probably don’t voice controversial beliefs on professional platforms, but do you “let it rip” with inflammatory opinions on your personal sites and discussion boards? In today’s digital age, patients who are so inclined can spend a lot of time searching for information about you, sometimes stumbling across your personal views on one topic or another. Learn how to manage the privacy settings on your social media accounts and any online forums you frequent. And remember that the e-mail petition you sign may become “public” when the authoring organization decides to post it to bolster their cause. Being this cautious may restrict your ability to express yourself as freely as you’d like. But accept this as a necessary part of life “in the fishbowl” because, as a distinguished professional in your community you’ll continuously be scrutinized by patients, colleagues, and others in the public.
As with your personal opinions, the company you keep becomes a part of the image you project too. In the past, you could socialize at liberty and enjoy all kinds of personal affiliations without much concern. Your private life typically remained private, but don’t expect that to be the case today. People post event pictures on their social media platforms without getting your permission. And, because clinicians typically are a bit of mystery, some folks are surreptitious about making audio and video recordings of what you say and do. While you can still enjoy yourself when with others, remember that you’re always “on stage,” even when entertaining in your own home. Be mindful of your contacts and behavior accordingly.
The projection of a positive personal image is an important part of your professional success. As a practitioner, you can’t truly just “be yourself” at all times and in all situations, but you can ensure that the view you present to the public is in sync with your practice brand and ideals.
Enjoy These Other Success Articles
Reprint Policy: You are welcome to reprint this article for your personal use and to share with friends and associates.
Contact Dr. Webster to obtain permission for any commercial purposes.
About the Author:
Dr. E. Carol Webster is a clinical psychologist consultant specializing in Success Psychology.
She is author of the book for those dealing with the stress of success ―
Success Management: How to Get to the Top and Keep Your Sanity Once You Get There,
The Fear of Success: Stop It From Stopping You! ―
the book to help you overcome fears that may be holding you back in your life and career
The Private Practice of Clinical Psychology in: Voices of Historical & Contemporary Black American Pioneers
E. Carol Webster, Ph.D.
Your Success Psychologist!
Clinical Psychology Consulting
Mailing Address: 7027 West Broward Boulevard, #262 Fort Lauderdale, FL 33317