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8 Swift Judgements That Are Made When People Meet You Within Seconds

8 Swift Judgements That Are Made When People Meet You Within Seconds

According to recent studies, people are inclined to form an impression of one another within just seven seconds of meeting them. So whether you are meeting a new boss, colleague or a potential buyer for your home, you have a limited amount of time in which to create a positive impression and influence favorable perceptions.

During this relatively brief period of time, people are likely to forge a number of important and specific judgements about your personality traits, values and level of success. Psychologists refer to this as “thin slicing,” and the impressions formed within nine to 10 seconds of meeting someone can be difficult to correct or override.

With this in mind, here are ten swift and initial judgements that individuals make when they first meet you.

1. If you’re trustworthy

Let’s start at the beginning, as research conducted at Princeton University has revealed that people determine the trustworthiness of others within a tenth of a second of meeting them.

This result was achieved by comparing two groups of students, one of which had 100 milliseconds to rate the competence, likeability, aggressiveness and trustworthiness of an actor based on their face. The second group had an open-ended amount of time to rate the same faces, and while the responses varied across three of these traits trustworthiness was ranked the same by both.

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These findings seem to confirm that the human brain automatically responds to visual stimulus when assessing trustworthiness, before an individual’s face has been consciously perceived.

2. If you’re confident

This is another of the eight unconscious impressions that are formed within seconds of meeting someone, and it is usually influenced by individual mannerisms and body language. Much of the data to support this was produced during a a famous communications study by UCLA professor Albert Mehrabian in 1971, with these findings remaining true to this day.

As human beings, we tend to evaluate confidence based on the way in which people walk and first initiate contact with others. Individuals who walk upright and with a purposeful gait give the impression of self-assuredness, for example, as do those who carry their head high and maintain eye contact.

Conversely, people who place their hands in their pockets or behind their back showcase a lack of confidence or certainty in their own ability.

3. If you’re high status

While it is well-known that the way we dress influences people’s perception of us, there has been less research into the precise impact that high-end, designer clothing has in the minds of others.

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This has been explored in a recent Dutch study, however, which found that people wearing brand name clothing were considered to be higher in status than those who wore non-designer attire. While this may not come as a huge surprise, it is interesting to note the difference in clothing did not impact the perceived attractiveness and kindness of the subjects.

This seems to suggest that the impression is formed simply from the visual impact of the clothing and the perceived link between wealth and social standing.

4. If you’re successful

On a similar note, the findings of a collaborative study between Britain and Turkey also draw a strong correlation between the clothes that we wear and our perceived success as individuals.

More specifically, it showed the participants images of men in tailored suits for just five seconds, before presenting the same individuals in off-the-peg garments. Despite the body shapes and faces of the individuals being the same, the group overwhelmingly rated those in tailored suits as being the more successful. These findings also seem to reaffirm the link between wealth, clothing, and our social standing.

For anyone with the financial means who is attending a job interview or an important business meeting, tailored suits therefore offer the most effective way of forging a positive impression.

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5. If you’re extroverted

While there are numerous physical factors that underpin body language, the handshake remains the most well-researched and discussed. Perhaps the most in-depth study was carried out at the University of Alabama, having been commissioned in 2000 and subsequently published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

This study revealed that a confident and firm handshake correlated strongly with specific character traits, including “openness to new experiences” and, most tellingly, extroversion. So those with a strong and purposeful grip convey openness and an overt sense of confidence, whereas those who do not give off feelings such as anxiety, uncertainty, and in some extreme instances, neuroticism.

The importance of a firm handshake has also been discussed in research papers, with a study conducted at the University of Iowa revealing that this has a greater influence than dress or appearance when forging an impression.

6. If you’re smart

We have already referenced the importance of eye contact when giving the impression of strength and confidence, although this also influences the way in which your intelligence is perceived. According to a 2007 study conducted by Loyola Marymount University Professor Nora A. Murphy, the ability to look your conversation partner directly in the eye is a key indicator of mental aptitude and smartness.

In her research paper, she wrote, “Looking while speaking is a key behavior. It significantly correlated with IQ and contributed to higher perceived intelligence ratings.” Additional findings also revealed that the ability to speak clearly and expressively was also important, as was the use of grammatically sound language. It is also believed that it is easy to create a false impression of intelligence, simply by manipulating these proven metrics.

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7. If you’re dominant

Over time, popular culture has challenged the perception of baldness and afforded it a strong association with physical and mental fortitude. Bald Hollywood icons such as Bruce Willis and Vin Diesel have played a pivotal role in this transition, with their portrayal as tough, masculine, and physically dominant heroes extremely influential.

This is also supported by a number of modern day studies, which indicate that bald men (or more specifically those who have shaved their heads) are rated as more dominant than others with a full head of hair. These individuals are also seen as being taller and stronger than their authentic selves, enabling them to make a positive and potentially misleading first impression on others.

It is important to note that these findings highlighted a clear distinction between shaved heads and those who were naturally bald; however, anyone who is beginning to lose their hair may benefit from being proactive and removing it intentionally.

8. If you’re adventurous

There are a number of fascinating and unique travel experiences available in the modern age, from building igloos in the French Alps to Husky tours in Finland. These trips require a freedom of spirit and a keen sense of adventure, and according to research, it is possible to judge if others have these characteristics within seconds.

Thanks to the findings of a study conducted at Durham University, we can surmise that there is a strong link between the way in which people walk and their underlying sense of adventure. During the research, participants were shown brief video footage of 26 other students walking. Some of these had loose, fluid gaits, while other moved in tighter, less expressive movements.

After just a few seconds of viewing, the former were categorized as being slightly extrovert and adventurous, while the latter were labelled as anxious and potentially neurotic.

Featured photo credit: Greyer Baby – Pixabay via pixabay.com

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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

Have you ever walked into a room and felt like your nerves simply couldn’t handle it? Your heart beats fast, you start to sweat, and you feel like all eyes are on you (even if they’re really not). This is just one of the many ways that being self-conscious can rear its ugly head.

You may not even realize you’re self-conscious, and you may be wondering, “What does self-conscious mean?” That’s a good place to start.

This article will define self-consciousness, show how practically everyone has faced it at one point or another, and give you tips to avoid it.

What Does Self-Conscious Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self-conscious is defined as “conscious of one’s own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself.”[1]

Not so bad, right? There’s another definition, though — one that speaks more to what you’re going through: “feeling uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of the observation of others.” For those of us who regularly deal with extreme self-consciousness, that second definition sounds about right.

There are many different ways self-consciousness can spring up. You may feel self-conscious around people you know, like your family members or closest friends. You may feel self-conscious at work, even though you spend hours every week around your co-workers. Or you may feel self-conscious when out in public and surrounded by strangers. However, you probably don’t feel self-conscious when you’re home alone.

How to Stop Being Too Self-Conscious

When you’re in the throes of self-consciousness, it’s nearly impossible to remember how to stop feeling that way. That’s why it’s so important to prepare ahead of time, when you’re feeling ready to tackle the problem instead of succumbing to it.

Here are a variety of ways to feel better about yourself and stop thinking about how others see you.

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1. Ask Yourself, “So What?”

One way to banish negative, self-conscious thoughts is to do just that: banish them.

The next time you walk into a room and feel your face getting red, think to yourself, “So what?” How much does it really matter if people don’t like how you look or act? What’s the worst that could happen?

Most of the time, you’ll find that you don’t have a good answer to this question. Then, you can immediately start assigning such thoughts less importance. With self-awareness, you can acknowledge that your negative thoughts are present and realize that you don’t agree with them.[2] They’re just thoughts, after all.

2. Be Honest

A lie that self-consciousness might tell is that there’s one way to act or feel. Honestly, though, everyone else is just figuring life out as well. There isn’t a preferred way to show up to an event, gathering, or public place. What you can do is be honest with your feelings and thoughts.[3]

If you feel offended by something someone says, you don’t have to smile to be polite or laugh to fit in with the crowd. Instead, you can politely say why you disagree or excuse yourself and find a group of people who you relate to better. If you’re nervous, don’t overcompensate by trying to look relaxed and casual — it’ll be obvious you’re putting on a front. Instead, nothing is more endearing than saying, “I’m a little nervous!” to a room of people who probably feel the exact same way.

On the same note, if you don’t understand why someone wants you to do something, question it. You can do this at work, at home, or even with people you don’t know well. Nobody should force you to do something you don’t want to do.

Also, even if you’re willing to do what’s asked of you, there’s nothing wrong with asking for more clarification. People will realize that you’re not a person to be bossed around.

3. Understand Why You’re Struggling at Work

Being self-conscious at work can get in the way of your daily responsibilities, your relationships with co-workers, and even your career as a whole. If you’re facing some sort of conflict but you’re too nervous to speak up, you may be at the whim of what happens to you instead of taking some control.

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If you’re usually confident at work, you may be wondering where this new self-consciousness is coming from. It’s possible that you’re dealing with burnout.[4] Common signs are anxiety, fatigue and distraction, all of which can leave you feeling under-confident.

4. Succeed at Something

When you create success in your life, it’s easier to feel confident[5] and less self-conscious. If you feel self-conscious at work, finish the project that’s been looming over your head. If you feel self-conscious in the gym, complete an advanced workout class.

Exposing yourself to what you’re scared of and then succeeding at it in some way (even just by finishing it) can do wonders for your self-esteem. The more confidence you build, the more likely you are to have more success in the future, which will create a cycle of confidence-building.

5. Treat All of You — Not Just Your Self-Consciousness

Trying to solve your self-consciousness alone may not treat the root of the problem. Instead, take a well-rounded approach to lower your self-consciousness and build confidence in areas where you may struggle.

Even professional counselors are embracing this holistic type of treatment[6] because they feel that the health of the mind and body are inextricably linked. This approach combines physical, spiritual, and psychological components. Common activities and treatments include meditation, yoga, massage, and healthy changes to diet and exercise.

If much of this is new to you, it will pay to give it a try. You never know how it will impact you.

If you’re feeling self-conscious about how your body looks, a massage that makes you feel great could boost your confidence. If you try a new workout, you could have something exciting to talk about the next time you’re in a group setting.

Putting yourself in a new situation and learning that you can get through it with grace can give you the confidence to get through all sorts of events and nerve-wracking moments.

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6. Make the Changes That Are Within Your Control

Let’s say you walk into a room and you’re self-conscious about how you look. However, you may have put a lot of time and effort into your outfit. Even though it may stand out, this is how you have chosen to express yourself.

You have to work on your internal confidence, not your external appearance. There’s nothing to change other than your outlook.

On the other hand, maybe there’s something that you don’t like about yourself that you can change. For example, maybe you hate how a birthmark on your face looks or have varicose veins that you think are unsightly. If you can do something about these things, do it! There’s nothing wrong with changing your appearance (or skills, education, etc.) if it’s going to make you more confident.

You don’t have to accept your current situation for acceptance’s sake. There’s no award for putting up with something you hate. Confidence is also required to make changes that are scary, even if they’re for the better. Plus, it may be an easier fix than you thought. For example, treating varicose veins doesn’t have to involve surgery — sometimes simple compression stockings will take care of the problem.[7]

7. Realize That Everyone Has Awkward Moments

Everyone has said something awkward to someone else and lived to tell the tale. We’ve all forgotten somebody’s name or said, “You too!” when the concession stand girl says to enjoy our movie. Not only are these things uber-common, but they’re not nearly as embarrassing as you feel they are.

Think about how you react when someone else does something awkward. Do you think, “Wow, that person’s such a loser!” or do you think, “What a relief, I’m not the only one who does that.” Chances are good that’s the same reaction others have to you when you stumble.

Remember, self-consciousness is a state of mind that you have control over. You don’t have to feel this way. Do what you need to in order to build your confidence, put your self-consciousness in perspective, and start exercising your “I feel awesome about myself” muscle. It’ll get easier with time.

When Is Being Self-Conscious a Good Thing?

Self-consciousness can sometimes be a good thing[8], but you have to take the awkwardness and nerves out of it.

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In this case, “self-aware” is a much better term. Knowing how you come off to people is an excellent trait; you’ll be able to read a room and understand how what you do and say affects others. These are fantastic skills for people work and personal relationships.

Self-awareness helps you dress appropriately for the occasion, tells you that you’re talking too loud or not loud enough, and guides a conversation so you don’t offend or bore anyone.

It’s not about being someone you’re not — that can actually have adverse effects, just like self-consciousness. Instead, it’s about turning up certain aspects of yourself to perform well in the situation.

Final Thoughts

When you’re self-conscious, you’re constantly battling with yourself in an effort to control how other people view you. You try to change yourself to suit what you think other people want to see.

The truth, though, is that you can’t actually control how other people view you — and you may not even be correct about how they view you in the first place.

Being confident doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it happens in small steps as you slowly build your confidence and say “no” to your self-consciousness. It also requires accepting that you’re going to feel self-conscious sometimes, and that’s okay.

Sometimes worrying that there is a problem can be more stressful than the problem itself. Feeling bad for feeling self-conscious can be more troublesome than simply feeling it and getting on with the day.

Forgive yourself for being human and make the small changes that will lead to better confidence in the future.

More Tips for Improving Your Self-Esteem

Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Merriam-Webster: Self-conscious
[2] Bustle: 7 Tips On How To Stop Feeling Self-Conscious
[3] Marc and Angel: 10 Things to Remember When You Feel Unsure of Yourself
[4] Bostitch: How to Protect Small Businesses From Burnout
[5] Psychology Today: Self-conscious? Get Over It
[6] Wake Forest University: Embracing Holistic Medicine
[7] Center for Vein Restoration: What Causes Venous Ulcers, and How Are They Treated?
[8] Scientific American: The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Aware

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