Podcast – Episode 0299 – Is Image Management Wrong?

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In this episode, Joel and Antonia talk about how we project and cast images in three primary ways: externally, internally, and philosophically.

In this podcast you’ll find:

  • What do we mean when we talk about image management? Joel shares an example of the image-management he has a tendency to display as a parent when out in public.
  • Judging a book by its cover – Antonia unpacks this metaphor and it’s value in relation to image management.
  • Viewing image management through the lens of the extraverted judging functions; Harmony (Fe) and Effectiveness (Te).
  • Why the ideal of not caring what others think isn’t necessarily a helpful or realistic option.
  • What’s the difference between internal and external image management?
  • Philosophical image management – Joel introduces this concept and provides a real-life example.
  • Where our beliefs and paradigms fit into image management.
  • The complexities of achieving the right balance between individualism and collectivism – and why this is context dependent.
  • A birds-eye view of our relationship with image management as we grow from infancy to adulthood.
  • Mastering your relationship with image management when you are undertaking personal-growth work.
  • Why social media brings heightened expectations and increased pressure to manage your external presentation.
  • Some final thoughts on philosophical image management and the need to question its importance and role in your life.


In this episode, Joel and Antonia talk about how we project and cast images in three primary ways: externally, internally, and philosophically.

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Showing 11 comments
  • Michael (A.A.)

    Honestly, I find people’s dislike towards image management full of misconceptions. Personally, I have a tritype of 593 (5w4 9w8 3w4) and well, image is very important to enneagram 3s, mind you. I find people around the typing community always seem to look down on 3s because of this, as if the weaknesses of 3s are worse and not equally as bad as other enneagram types’ flaws.

    Buddy, image management is unethical if you’re lying about your image. Ethical image management is more about emphasizing whatever is actually true, and boosting it to be more fully expressed. Learning how to communicate your ideas coherently is ethical image management for example. It’s not lying, it’s just making your ideas easier to understand. I find in the book, “Personality Types,” which discuss enneagram types at different levels of mental health, healthy 3s are like this.

    Yes, I’m someone with a suspicious amount of knowledge in marketing tactics and knowing how to make my writing attention grabbing? Is that lying? No. I am basically just working to say what I want truthfully, but doing it in a way with a unique difference to catch attention. A unique writing style that emphasizes how your personality is like is essential to this, so well. . . my way of talking is just very different, in writing and public speaking. It’s also essential to know how to communicate emotions in a way ordinary speaking can’t, so the various arts is emphasized for this also.

    Healthy 3s, in other words, teach others to communicate ideas well. For example, someone looking for a petition to make a big organization use recyclable materials won’t be able to communicate its deep emotions well without a 3w4 making deep beautiful art around the environment. (See TED talk drawings that depict the beauty and fragility of the earth.) A singer that emphasizes meaningful messages as a 3w2 can really express something that something without music can’t. It reminds me of Pyotr’s “Love Yourself” dance performance from the anime Carole and Tuesday (You can look it up on Youtube.) He lost but he was still a good guy enough to congratulate the winners of the contest.

    So am I attention seeking? Yes I am, but I’m not hurting anyone by grabbing your attention. I hope at the very least when I gain your attention, I also serve to communicate meaningful honest ideas to you. Can I immediately get rid of this ego need for attention as a lot of people in the typing community pester us to? No, I’ve been working on it for years. It’s not that EASY, as much as working through all the flaws other enneagram types have.

    So at the very least, I find something that brings both attention to me and the issues of those in the audience at the same time. And I think that works for me well.

  • David

    I am an INFJ first of all. As of image management, I’m not a fan of how group thinking will project images on how everyone should live or be”normal”. I’m a believer and lover of being yourself but not losing who you are in society. It is possible to respect others but also show them,” I care about you as well”. Not intentionally trying to hurt people, but trying to teach people to be fearless and compassionate. Does that make sense ?

  • Amanda

    As an INFP I totally feel this! 😂 I feel like I have to manage image when I’m working with kids because I let them do/ get away with more than a lot of people, like Joel. I don’t personally always have a problem with what they may be doing except that it makes me look bad in front of others who think I should tell the kids to act a certain way. Haha. Image management does often feel like a game, and I feel like the images can change based on what I’m wearing (and of course what role I’m in). I feel very attuned to how personal appearance can help or hinder you in many parts of life. When it comes to what role I’m in it’s often more action based. And of course like you said it’s a balancing act, knowing when it’s appropriate to speak up when something really goes against your values, or if it is better to go along to get along (not compromising on the values per say, but using wisdom as to if this is necessary to really get into and will anything really come of it).

  • Justine G

    I found Joel’s take on the Te/Fi approach to image-management too ham-fisted.

    It was too skewed towards the Te end of the dynamic (competency), as if that’s all it really comes down too even for Fi-dominants. This is even without going into how Myers-Briggs is just one node in the totality of what determines who we are and how we want ourselves and others to see us.

    I also don’t understand the ‘its not what you know but who you know’ as supposedly THE Te/Fi take on knowledge, as if Joel didn’t value his own insights about human nature or the value of being educated etc. And how could he be ‘competent’, as he makes very clear he needs to be (and be seen as being), if he doesn’t ‘know’ anything? Is Joel just relying on Antonia to ‘know’ stuff (sounds very submissive to me)?

    Or is the point actually that Te/Fi doesn’t really believe in ‘truth’ in the strict sense, hence there is no real ‘truth’, only ‘this seems to work’, or ‘this is a constructive belief’ etc.?

    I am very prepared to accept that I have misunderstood Joel’s intentions and taken things too literally. I think perhaps it would have been better to have just left the typology stuff out of this particular podcast, unless you are prepared to flesh these things out in greater depth and nuance, otherwise it just cheapens it.

    Other than that I appreciate what you have to say.

  • Marge

    [INTJ] I think that (unfortunately) image management is important, to a certain extent. In my opinion, it is important, for example if you are a person that curses a lot to make an actual effort not to curse in specific scenarios so that you can keep a certain image (imagine a priest cursing in church?).
    That being said, as an Fi user I, like Joel, struggle with image management because I want to rebel against it (Joel personally attacked me when he mentioned using baggy clothes and all that hahahaha).
    I do think it was interesting when you guys mentioned the difference between Fi and Fe with image management, and I think what you guys said about each function’s focus on image is pretty true, I’ll provide an example to make my point:
    My partner is an INTP, so he has Fe somewhere in his stack. We both are private tutors for college and school students, and our focus on image management in this endeavor is SO different! My partner always dresses very professional looking, with long sleeved shirts tucked inside his pants, his hair always well done, formal shoes, etc… because he thinks that makes him look professional to his students, whereas I just put on whatever I find in my closet (crocs, baggy shirts, etc…) because my image management comes from my results as a tutor. I manage my relationship with the student and provide the best experience possible when it comes to teaching, but I could care less about my clothing when I go do the tutoring, because I think I’ll look professional if my students start to improve their grades, or if I manage to make a connection with them that will make them enjoy the tutoring as more than just another class.
    Anyway, great podcast once again! I really enjoyed it!

  • C

    Image management is a product of the false self, the ego. It is the ego that cares what other people think of you, not the real you. The real you is one with all other beings, at peace, ecstatic, and joyful. The real you has no image or form. Identify with the real, eternal, formless you, not the temporary, 3D illusory you.

    As long as your communication with others is clear, honest, and unambiguous, it doesn’t matter what other people think of you.

  • Nins

    Excellent topic as always, love your podcasts

  • Brenda Latevola

    I frankly don’t care what anybody else thinks. It’s the same as lying about who I really am. That’s deceitful. I just live according to the golden rule and don’t worry about anyone’s opinion. My opinion of myself is the only one that really counts.

    • M

      I think you forgot the part about sociopaths…

  • H

    I feel like part of a rapid response division in regard to everything and I can’t help it. All too aware of how actions affect people and what actions need to be taken to remedy situations. This often leaves me feeling like I come across as spineless phony (Or at least that’s what my inner critic tells me).

    Some of the work I’ve been doing involves checking in with myself to see how I feel and what I think about situations. Not displaying concern just because a situation seems to call for it but because I have taken time to assess the situation and find within myself a genuine expression (of whatever kind)

    • Erica

      I completely resonate with your comment…I am just learning myself the terminology to really formulate my thoughts around how I am feeling, but I know that this is exactly how I feel. I am not familiar with “rapid response division”…is this where you see an action and immediately respond to what you are feeling from what you saw? I do this, if this is a thing…all the time…and I am learning I too need to slow down and realize that the response I am having is habitual at times and not serving me to identify with it, especially if what I am feeling is a result of what my inner critic has assessed. I so desire to express a genuine image of myself…and this POD cast was so helpful in determining how we can cast an image or vision of what we are wanting to become and then hold ourselves accountable.

      I am on a leadership journey and often find I have so much to work through just to lead myself…Thank you Antonio & Joel for all of your beautiful insight and tools!! You have definitely helped light my path !

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