Years ago famed sociologist Erving Goffman wrote about a concept he dubbed "impression management." Goffman's thesis was rather simple, yet quite elegant: People have a tendency to manage the impressions others have of them. Sometimes our efforts are designed to convince other people to like us, hire us, vote for us, marry us, or maybe buy something from us. The motives we have to manage the way people see us are as varied as the myriad life goals we carry around – some noble and, well, some not. The bottom line is that all of us are trying to sort out the complicated relationship between how we view ourselves and how we imagine others see us. It's endlessly complicated, as we hear from Paula Grey.
Paula Grey, a freelance writer and editor, lives with her family in Wakefield, Rhode Island.