Do You Project An Intense Image? How and When An Intense Image Can Be Beneficial by Michelle T. Sterling

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January 2nd, 2015

As his New Year’s resolution, a male client scheduled an appointment with me to discuss his projected professional image. He was concerned that he was too intense and that projecting an intense image impeded him from building solid professional relationships. He was a former investment banker turned founder of a technology start up firm in New York with lots of ambition. Historically his role required him to be a rainmaker, provide high-level analysis and insight regarding the transaction, and close the deal. His new role, among other things, required him to be more collaborative, engaging, warm, and dynamic in an accessible manner. Therefore my job as a consultant was to show him how to take his personality assets and transition them into professional assets in his new role.

So what are the attributes of an intense person and how can you use that to your advantage? Well intense individuals are usually passionate, ardent, enthusiastic, zealous, fiery, emotional, earnest, eager, animated, spirited, vigorous, energetic, dedicated and committed. These are the attributes that you commonly see among managing directors in investment banking firms or attributes of professionals in most leadership positions. While these attributes may have served this client well while he was an investment banker during the deal origination process, he was having trouble transitioning from being on center stage projecting a magnified personality to being a leader who needed to project a more magnanimous personality. His Head of HR therefore told him he was intimidating his employees.


Therefore what are the benefits of having an intense personality and when should it be projected? Intensity is a character trait that can be emphasized or understated. It is a personality trait of self-starting individuals because they have fire, passion, enthusiasm, ambition, and the ability to follow through. Therefore if you’re a founder of an organization, these are the attributes of success. The key is to know when and where to use it. However please note that 55% of the impression that you make is visual. Therefore if you always look serious, aloof, restrained, and dignified, people will think you’re intense which is difficult to control. You can however control the intensity of your personality through the spoken word.

People who are intense and fiery in personality are naturally dynamic and interesting public speakers. They are great at giving their advice or opinion, telling you what to do and how to do it. However the delivery of the message will determine how well the advice will be received. Are you telling me what to do or are you advising me on what to? Tell oriented people tend to be construed as individuals who are opinionated, unyielding, unwavering, with a “my way or the highway” attitude. Most employees do not respond well to this unless they are completely subservient, “yes” people. However if you have a team of individuals who are self-motivated, go-getters themselves, they will respond better to a boss who is “advising” them on what to do. When you are advising someone, you are offering suggestions and recommendations, which makes it easier for a boss to get his desired outcome from an employee. Therefore you will present an image of a more empathetic boss than an autocratic boss, which will result in smooth communications, increased productivity, ultimately benefiting your bottom line.

Exercising strong behavioral communication is the key to any successful professional relationship.

Conversely, when a woman is perceived as being intense in the workplace, she can be perceived as be intimidating, domineering, and opinionated. Results oriented women only project this type of autocracy when they feel they have something to prove or they are provoked, stressed, or imbued with anger. However when at their best, these type of women are interesting, engaging, intriguing, and compelling – able to manage difficult situations with confidence, grace and finesse. Yes, they are “strong women” with “personality” – but they have professional presence. The key to success with these type of women is to be honest, direct and straightforward.

Therefore if you’d like to learn more about how your can attune your inner presence with outer expression, contact us to schedule an appointment. We provide video Skype image consultations too if you’re unable to come to our office in Miami, New York, London or Dubai.

About Michelle T. Sterling

Michelle T. Sterling is a certified image consultant, interior decor and home staging professional with 15 years of experience consulting clients worldwide. Ms. Sterling is able to impact client’s lives through the image they project from their home to their wardrobe – harnessing their inner presence and enhancing their outward projection. Ms. Sterling has been featured in many media worldwide such as: The Miami Herald, San Francisco Business Times, World Talk Female Entrepreneur Radio,,, Sales and Marketing Management, Audrey Magazine, American Way Magazine, Smart Money, Washington Woman, Associated Press, Men’s Health Magazine, Women’s Health Magazine, Details Magazine, The New York Post, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Houston Chronicle, Friday Magazine – Gulf News Dubai, BBC London, Bloomberg, Business Week, Forbes, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal in the U.S. and Asia, CNN London, eHow, Real Simple Magazine, People Style Magazine, Marie Claire Magazine UK, InStyle Magazine UK, and Vogue Magazine UK. She holds Certificates of Achievement in Image Consulting, Interior Decor, Real Estate Staging, Nostradamus Astrology, and in Basic Spiritual Response Therapy (SRT).

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