Communication today has moved past the language that involves our tongues as instruments. “We are now in a world where people assess people in the first three seconds of their first encounter,” says Renu Mehra, an image consultant, in a conversation with Guardian 20. In Mehra’s industry the dictum “First impressions are last impressions” still stands with its root firmly in the ground. Renu Mehra, while she continues in her fine intonations, adds, “Image management is concerned with the exterior or visual aspects of an individual and the internal as well — the entire span of 360 degrees that makes an individual.”
You may ask, what is this image management all about? In short, it is about “creating a persona”. Mehra, who has acquired her training in image management from the Image Consulting Business Institute, says that she has been approached by people with all sorts of problems; these include many with problems in their corporate offices, organisations, and people who have encountered trouble with interviews. She adds that the problems can be very simple, like being academically capable and skilled yet not receiving recognition or being ready with the right score but being rejected at an interview. It is her belief that, “The moment you enter the room for an interview the interviewers have already assessed you and have already set up expectations in their minds.” This is a very credible belief and this becomes her foundation for a wide range of methods, activities and other means via which she works with people to help improve those points where they fear that they are lacking.
Mehra has been in the image consultancy enterprise for over five years now and has garnered a lot of response, which as of today adds up to over 300,000 hours of training individuals and groups. She is also an expert in areas like visual merchandise, fashion and interior design. She clarifies, “You’d like to think that only people of a certain section of society or of a certain class would take interest in this matter, but it is not so at all.” She has had the opportunity of working with people from the highest ranks in corporate to people who work as drivers. She says that everyone wants to be successful today, no matter what they do, and for that one’s image is a prerequisite. The binding thread to all is simply one, “creating your own brand, being your own brand.” Mehra further explains this through a rather interesting example, “If you observe corporate offices and towers today you will notice that they are elegantly designed in order to create an image of the office, to establish the brand. This implies further that the people working in that office should also be capable of being brands in themselves, and be able to represent the office they work in.”
The conversation continues into what seems like a wonderful private sessions where she quite freely tells me all about the intricacies of what personalities are composed of: “All of us go through various stages in our life, we all begin with a body image, it is fed to us by people. This sticks to us and lingers on for the rest of our lives. As we grow we begin to build a self image. The self image combines aspects that we observe in ourselves and that we learn.” She continues, “Then we go on to self esteem, which is what others think about. This is followed by self confidence, which is what we think about ourselves. People who are low on esteem are low on confidence. Then there is competence, which is about ones abilities in a certain space, once they being to realise their own selves and abilities. Finally is self actualization, this is when you achieve your dream.”
Mehra does both, one on one sessions as well as group sessions. She puts in a lot of effort in her one on one sessions where she tries to understand her client and their story, she then determines the areas in which work is needed. The sessions cover a wide range: from appearance and body language to fine dining. Mehra even has a concise and precise formula in place, “THE A, B, C , D formula is simple. A is for appearance which involves aspects like hygiene and grooming. B is for behavior which involves nuances like etiquette that are necessary in meeting, business and interpersonal. C stands for communication, and D is for digital presence which is crucial in these modern times.”
Renu Mehra has a strong digital presence in the form of blogs and social networking profiles like facebook where she puts up tips for people five days a week. She concludes the conversation with sharing how she worked on empathsing and clear communication with her clients. She ends with the words, “Knowledge of anything empowers, especially areas like these which concern us personally.”