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Impression Management ala Peyton Sawyer

By Tricia Andor, Licensed Professional Counselor

Last week I wrote about various types of “impression management”. As I mentioned, most folks have a tendency towards some type of impression management, one version of which is presenting oneself as “needless” in order to avoid being disappointed by others. Peyton Sawyer presents a good example of this version in the following clip from television’s One Tree Hill.

Listen to the beginning quote, then advance and play from 6:00 to 7:30.

This clip captures only a bit of the presenting-oneself-as-“needless”-in-order-to-avoid-being-disappointed-by-others impression management strategy, but it’s enough to get at least a bit of an illustration.

So to give context to the clip – The character Peyton tends to withdraw from sharing her hopes and hardships (which are numerous…it’s basically a soap!) with the people she’s closest to if she senses the other person is amidst their own hopes or hardships.

So at the moment she realizes Brooke is, “re-involved” with her own set of hopes and trials, we catch a glimpse of Payton switching from open sharing to (note 7:20 point on the clip) a self-protective stance. At that point we get just a glimpse of the presenting herself as “fine” or “needless” in order to avoid being disappointed by others impression management style.

At the beginning of the clip the narrator (Lucas) says, “Nathaniel Hawthorne once wrote, ‘No man for any considerable period can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude without finally getting bewildered as to which may be true.’”

It’s my belief that deep down, people have a sense of which is their true self. Sometimes they just need help discovering or recovering that person.