Impression management is an important strategy to use when trying to persuade another person to act differently or to think about a cause from a different perspective. Typically this sort of persuasion is used when two people differ in their opinions or one person feels strongly about a topic the other individual does not know much about. For example, I feel very strongly about protecting the environment. As such I have volunteered several times to clean up neighborhood parks and other spaces. I hoped to get my friends more involved and so I told them how much fun the work was, even though in reality it can be quite grueling. They wanted to get involved because they felt it would be a fun outing and not nearly as rigorous as it tends to be. The irony was that the people who were persuaded to come volunteer did end up having fun for several reasons: because there were more of us to share the workload, more people to talk to and because they were expecting to have fun. It is easier to utilize impression management when someone is less familiar with a topic. For example, a stranger might believe that I am not a messy person if I present myself that way. However, impression management has not worked on my friends and family. They are not be so easily persuaded because they have contrary information to base their opinions on (i.e. they have seen my messy room). Thus, impression management works best when one person has more knowledge or insight into a particular topic than the other.
When it comes to my messy room, it might be easier to use a self handicapping strategy to explain my behavior than trying to convince people that know my that I have turned a new leaf and now become neat and tidy. Often when my mother asks me if my room is clean I tell her that I am so busy with school I have not had the time to clean it recently but that I will get to it as soon as possible. This assuages my sense of guilt for not having the task completed in the first place and providing a behavioral handicap. I am able to place an object in my own way (i.e. my school work) to explain why it is more important for me to focus on matters other than my room. Because school work is �more important� than making my bed every morning I can feel better about the guilt. The problem with referring to this strategy too often is that things may never get done. While it might be okay to have a messy room for a time or to a certain point, it can become so problematic in the extreme that I could not be able to walk around the room. As such, these strategies should be used in moderation.
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