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Most People Fail to Leave a Good Impression Because They Focus on the Wrong Things

Most People Fail to Leave a Good Impression Because They Focus on the Wrong Things

Are you interested in a powerful lifehack that will change how your life unfolds? What if all it required was to change your posture for two minutes? If we simply focus on tweaking our posture, we change who we are. [1]

Our body language communicates who we are. In fact, we make sweeping judgements from body language. For example, associate psychology professor Joseph Tecce found that something crazy like a lower blink rate predicted presidential winners. [2]

We immediately size someone up when we first meet them, but what are judging them on? Harvard social psychologist and best-selling author of the book Presence, Amy Cuddy says that people seek to answer two important questions when they first meet you.

  1. Can I trust you?
  2. Can I respect you?

Our non-verbal actions reveal who we are and shape how we are perceived. We make quite a bit of mistakes that hold us back and provide people a negative perception of us.

Are you making these common mistakes?

Cuddy points out that people typically believe that competence is the most important trait in making a good first impression. Yet, while this trait is highly valued, this tends to backfire on people if trust has not yet been established. Let’s take a look at five common mistakes we make that fail to leave a good first impression.

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    1. Smartest person in the room. Don’t try to be the smartest person in the room (remember, we are first judged on our trustworthiness).
    2. Frightened animal. Essentially, don’t collapse your body.
    3. Hiding in your shell. People tend to contract when they should expand their body.
    4. Fidgeting. Don’t play with your jewelry or pick at yourself.
    5. Subordination. Stop subordinating yourself to people. If you find yourself doing this, mirror the body language of the other person.

    So, how can we use our body to change our mind?

    Power poses to boost power and confidence

    Cuddy points out in her famous Ted Talk that there are specific things we can do (and practice) to feel more powerful and confident. The first thing we should do when seeking to make a good first impression is to stop talking so much. It’s ironic that we try so hard to leave a good impression that we actually end up leaving a bad impression. [3]

    Additionally, there are specific things we can do through our body language to project power and confidence. Cuddy calls them power poses. Let’s take a look at them and see if they can help you in your quest to project a person who is respected and trustworthy.

    How to leave an impression of trustworthiness

    The best way to lose trust is for someone to catch your body doing something different than what you are saying. This is where fidgeting can hurt you. Try this power pose when you feel subordinate to another or you find you regularly fidget while interacting with people.

      The Wonder Woman. Puff out your chest, plant your hands on your hips, and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Tilt your chin up for that extra sense of power.

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      How to show people they can respect you

      Use your posture to both intimidate and seduce! Practice the following two power poses.

        The Loomer. If you are looking to close a deal, plant your hands on the table and lean forward.

        The Performer. If you are looking to gain confidence before interacting with a person or group, plant your feet wide and stretch your arms overhead in a V shape. Be sure to do this before you interact and not during.

        How to become an active listener

        This is one of the most difficult skills to attain. We often fail to actively listen during a conversation. Instead, we find ourselves trying to formulate our response while the other person is speaking. Try the following power poses and become a better active listener.

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          The CEO. Lean in by leaning back during your next job interview. Rest your arm on the back of your chair, keep your knees apart, and recline.

            The Obama. Love him or hate him, President Obama has a cool aurora about him. Try this the next time you are pitching or receiving an idea. Rest your feet on the table, clasp your hands behind your head, and lean back. Just remember, you might not want to do this during a job interview!

            Let’s look at a few more tricks that will help you make a great first impression.

            Fake it ’till you make it!

            The following list provides tips and techniques from How to Talk to Anyone: 92 Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships by Leil Lowndes.

            1. Sticky eyes. Pretend your eyes are glued to your partners with sticky taffy. Essentially, don’t break eye contact.

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            2. Epoxy eyes. Watch your target person even when speaking with someone else. No matter who is speaking, keep looking at your target person.

            3. Hang by your teeth. Visualize a circus iron-jaw bit hanging from a door fame you are walking through. Bite down and let it hang you by your teeth, with every muscle stretched into the perfect posture.

            4. Mood match. Before speaking, take a “psychic photograph” of the person you are interacting with. Match their mood and tone of voice.

            5. Parroting. Here is a trick so that you will never be left speechless again. Similar to a parrot, repeat the last few words your conversation partner says. This will place the conversation back in their court, where all you need to do is listen – specifically to those last few words.

            6. Comm-YOU-nication. When you start every ‘appropriate’ conversation with “you” … you will grab the other persons attention. This will get a more positive response.

            Making a good first impression matters. First impressions are nearly impossible to undo, so make sure your first encounters are done right. Focus on eliminating the common mistakes and start practicing the power poses discussed earlier.

            And remember, trust takes years to build, but only seconds to break.

              Reference

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              Dr. Jamie Schwandt

              Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt & Red Team Critical Thinker

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              Last Updated on May 7, 2019

              How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

              How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

              Work in any competitive field long enough, and you’re bound to run into a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It’s a powerful image. A shepherd watches over his flock to protect them from harm. He’d chase away any predator that tried to make its way into the flock. A clever wolf wearing the skin of a sheep as a disguise can sneak by the vigilant shepherd and get into the herd undetected.

              The story isn’t just a colorful description–it’s a warning to all of us to beware the wolf in sheep’s clothing. They may seem innocent, but they have ulterior motives. They’ll use different tactics to camouflage their intentions.

              The person who is kind to you, but undercuts you when you aren’t around is a wolf in disguise. A wolf in sheep’s clothing might pick your brain for ideas and then pass them off as their own to get a promotion. They’re always looking out for themselves at the expense of everyone around them.

              Wearing a Disguise Has Its Advantages

              People don’t go out of their way to manipulate others unless they’re getting something out of it. Hiding their intentions gives wolves the chance to manipulate other people to advance their own agenda. They know that what they’re trying to do wouldn’t be popular, or it might cause struggle if they presented themselves honestly.

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                They’ll be able to do what they want with less interference if they put on an act. By the time people figure out their true motives, the wolf has what it wants.

                Signs That Someone Is a Wolf in Disguise

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                    1. They live to take power instead of empowering others. A wolf uses people as stepping stones to get the things that they want. They don’t care what happens to anyone else.[1] A wolf at work might make you look bad during a presentation to make themselves look amazing in front of the boss.
                    2. Wolves seem sweet on the outside, but they’ll show you their teeth. If wolves revealed their true identity, people wouldn’t associate with them. They develop a friendly or kind persona, but they can’t keep up the act 24/7. Eventually, they’ll reveal their aggressive tendencies. A wealthy person who likes to break the law may make sizable charitable donations to convince people that they are kind and thoughtful. These donations largely keep them out of trouble, but if someone calls them out, they destroy that person’s reputation to stifle the criticism.
                    3. They manipulate through emotions to get what they want. Wolves know that they can get ahead by appealing to your emotions. They find out what you want and need, and they give you just enough to keep you quiet and compliant. Imagine that your boss is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and you want to ask for a vacation. She might try to play on your guilt and feelings of insecurity to get you to skip vacation or take fewer days off.
                    4. A wolf will charm you first. Wolves are experts at manipulating the people around them. They appear interested in whatever you’re doing, and you’ll get the impression that they care. After they get you where they want you, they do just enough to keep you on the hook. This is the coworker who may start out being your friend, but they end up dumping responsibility onto you. When they see that you are growing frustrated, they’ll surprise you with something to charm you some more. Then, they’ll continue to do whatever they want.
                    5. Their stories are full of holes.  Calling a wolf out is the surest way to make them squirm. When this person tries to come up with a story, it won’t make much sense because they are improvising.[2] The classic example of this is the significant other that you suspect has cheated on you. When you ask them why they came home so late, they’ll either become upset with you, or they’ll make up a weak explanation.

                    How to Spot a Wolf

                      Know What’s Real So You Can Spot the Phony

                      Do some homework so that you have as much of the story as possible before you work with them. Research how they respond in certain situations, or give them hypothetical problems to see how they respond.

                      A job applicant might tell you that she’s always positive and thinks of herself as a team-player. That’s what every employer wants to hear. During the interview you ask applicants to work in groups to solve a problem to see how they handle the situation. The applicant “positive team-player” is bossy and negative. You’ve spotted the wolf.

                      A wolf will tell you something that ultimately benefits them. Gather evidence that proves or disproves their position, and see what happens. Chances are, when you choose the side that supports their agenda, they’ll act like your best friend. If you disagree, they’ll become aggressive.

                      Spotting a potential wolf–especially if you are one of the sheep–can present you with some challenges. If your gut tells you that a wolf is lurking among all the other sheep, pay attention, and make sure you take the next step.

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                      Ask Questions, the More the Better

                      There’s nothing wrong with asking questions to uncover the truth. The safety of everyone in your group is at risk. Since wolves often make up stories, you may be able to call them out when their tales lack details.

                      When they state an opinion, ask “Why do you think that?” or “How do you know it’s like that?” They’ll have trouble coming up with enough information to pull off the lie.

                      Since wolves are always pretending to be something they aren’t, they don’t usually have a clearly thought-out reason for what they say. In a debate, they won’t understand the root of an issue.

                      They may also tell you what they think you want to hear, but when pressed for more information, they won’t have anything to add. Their knowledge is superficial. No matter how much you try to encourage discussion, they will not be able to carry on a conversation about the subject.

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                      Wolves Are Everywhere

                      As much as we want to believe that everyone has the best intentions, it isn’t always the case. Some people only do things to benefit themselves, and they don’t care who they hurt in the process.

                      Wolves in sheep’s clothing can be found in almost every setting. You can’t get rid of them, but if you can spot them, you can avoid falling into their traps.

                      Reference

                      [1] Association of Biblical Counselors: Three Ways to Spot a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
                      [2] Power of Positivity: Beware of a wolf in sheep’s clothing

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