By Emily Roberts, Regular Contributor
Recently, I have been reviewing intern applications, and one of the first things I do is Google candidates. There’s nothing wrong with having fun and showing the world who you are, but documenting drunk and degrading pictures of yourself or friends doesn’t give me a positive impression, and it is certainly not someone I want representing my brand. The same is true for other internships, jobs, and your career, even potential relationships. Your future really does depend on what you post and project to your online audience today.
So how do you feel confident about your online image?
In my new book, Express Yourself, I give girls and women the tools to be confident in person and on their online personas. Why? Because I have seen more than my fair share of casual posts turn into catastrophes and conflicts with others online…and sometimes into real life turmoil—everything you say or do online lasts forever.
You probably have a good idea of the potential consequences of sending a racy picture or responding rudely to a Twitter troll. We’ve all been there: typed a text or updated our statuses when we were ready to burst with anger or frustration—and it usually gets attention… but it also makes an impression to others about you. Anything you type or text when you’re emotional can be misunderstood. Even worse, even though you can delete it later, people have seen it and already made an impression about you. So instead of giving into the urge frustrated thoughts, here’s one of my favorite techniques that I share in my book: The PAUSE technique.
P — Put down the phone or the mouse. Seriously, walk in the other room—away from your device for just a sec (it won’t kill you, I promise).
A — Ask yourself what your intention or goal is for the message, picture, or post. Are you trying to get someone to help you, hear you or maybe just vent? How do you think others will interpret what you are saying or showing? Could they perceive it in a way that might hurt your image? How would your mother or grandmother react to it?
U — “Urge surf.” Like a wave, emotions feel intense at their peak, but eventually they crash. Your urge won’t last forever, and the last thing you want to do is press send when you’re at the peak of frustration. Allow some time for the intensity to pass (5-10 minutes), so you can think clearly. Distract yourself by doing something else. Play a game on your phone (if you feel you can tolerate it), call friend, or take 5 minutes to clean your room or organize your purse. Just do something that’s distracting. Give the “wave” time to lose its momentum and crash.
S — Say it out loud. Even if it’s a selfie, what does the accompanying text say or imply about you? How would other people hear it? For example, if you’re responding to a text from a friend who is annoying the heck out of you, does your response sound kind or kind of rude? If you shutter at how it really sounds, remind yourself of the truth: that’s how others will hear it too! Don’t like it? Delete it and rethink it.
E — Edit. If you still feel that it’s a good idea to post what you wanted to post, could you change your language in some way so that it’s less likely to be misinterpreted or more likely to have a positive impact?
You deserve to have your online image represent your amazing life, your journey, your likes and dislikes. Show the world who you are, but be careful. Make sure you are projecting a positive impression. Trust me, your future self will thank you for it.
Let's chat! Have you ever posted a status or picture that wasn't received well? How did you do damage control? What tips do you have to help keep your online image rockin? Share them with us here!
Emily Roberts is a licensed psychotherapist specializing in working with girls and women. Also known as The Guidance Girl , Emily has made it her career to help others feel confident in the skin they’re in. She and her dog fluffy dog Milo split their time between the busy streets of New York City and Austin, Texas. You can reach out to Emily on her Facebook https://www.facebook.com/TheGuidanceGirl/, Twitter https://twitter.com/GuidanceGirlEm, or Instagram @GuidanceGirlEm.