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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

              More by this author

              Dr. Jamie Schwandt

              Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt & Red Team Critical Thinker

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              Last Updated on February 19, 2019

              Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering

              Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering

              No one wants to suffer. As a general rule, people like to avoid hurt and pain as much as possible. As a species, humans want a painless existence so much that scientists make a living trying to create it.

              People can now choose “pain-free” labor for babies, and remedies to cure back pain, headaches, body-pains and even mental pains are a dime a dozen. Beyond medicine, we also work hard to experience little pain even when it comes to loss; often times we believe a breakup won’t hurt as much if we are the ones to call it off.

              But would a world without pain truly be painless? It’s unlikely. In fact, it would probably be painful exactly for that reason.

              If people never experienced hurt, they wouldn’t know what it was. On the surface level, that seems like a blessing, but think for a moment: if we didn’t know pain, how would we know peace? If you don’t know you’ve hurt or been hurt, how would you know that you need to heal? Imagine someone only knowing they have an incurable cancer at the final stage because no obvious symptoms have appeared at early stages.

              Without the feeling of pain, people won’t be aware of dangerous situations—what should or shouldn’t do for survival.

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              Pain Is Our Guardian

              Pain serves to protect human beings from harmful actions. It’s the same reason parents teach babies that fire equals hot, and that hot equals hurt. Should the baby still place its hand in a fire or on a stove, the intense pain remains so memorable, that the child is certain never to repeat that action.

              In the same way, pain within human bodies can serve as a warning that something is not right. Because you know what it is to feel “well,” you know what it is to feel poorly.[1]

              Along with serving as a teacher of what not to do, pain also teaches you what you are made of in terms of what you can handle as an individual.

              While the cliche, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is a tired term, it’s used excessively for a reason: it’s true. Pain helps you learn to cope with life’s inevitable difficulties and sadnesses— to develop the grit it takes to push past hardships and carry on.

              Whether it’s a shattering pain, like the loss of a loved one or a debilitating accident, pain affects everyone differently. But it still affects everyone. Take a breakup as an example, anyone who has experienced it knows it can hurt to the point of feeling physical. Especially the first breakup. At a young age, it feels like the loss of the only love you’ll ever know. As you grow and learn, you realize you’re more resilient with every ended relationship.

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              No Pain, No Happiness

              You only know happiness when you have known pain. While the idea of constant happiness sounds nice, there is little chance it would be. Without the comparison to happiness, there’s no reason to be grateful for it. That is to say, without ever knowing sadness or pain, you would have no reason to be grateful for happiness.

              In reality, there is always something missing, or something unpleasant, but it is only through those realizations that you know to be grateful when you feel you have it all. Read more about why happiness and pain have to exist together: Chasing Happiness Won’t Make You Happy

              In a somewhat counter-intuitive finding, researchers found one of the things that brings about the most happiness is challenge. When people are tested, they experience a greater sense of accomplishment and happiness when they are successful. It is largely for this reason that low-income individuals can often feel happier than those who have a sense of wealth.[2]

              This is a great thing to remember the next time you feel you would be happier if you just had a little more cash.

              Avoiding Pain Leads to More Suffering

              Pain is inevitable, embrace it positively. Anyone who strives to have a painless life is striving for perfectionism; and perfectionism guarantees sadness because nothing will ever be perfect.

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              This isn’t a bleak outlook, but rather a truthful one. The messy moments in life tend to create the best memories and gratitude. Pain often serves as a reminder of lessons learned, much like physical scars on the body.

              Pain will always be painful, but it’s the hurt feelings that help wiser decisions be made.

              Allow Room for the Inevitable

              Learning how to tolerate pain, especially the emotional kind, is a valuable lesson.

              Accepting and feeling pain makes you human. There is no weakness in that. Weakness only comes when you try to blame your own pain on someone else, expecting the blame to alleviate your hurting. There’s a saying,

              “Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting your enemy to die.”

              Think back to the last time you were really angry with someone. Maybe you were hurt because you got laid off from a job. You felt angry and that anger caused so much pain that you could feel it in a physical way. Being angry and blaming your ex boss for that pain didn’t affect him or her in any way; you’re the only one who lost sleep over it.

              The healthier thing to do in a situation like that is acknowledge your pain and the anger along with it. Accept it and explore it in an introspective way. How can you learn and grow? What is at the root of that pain? Are you truly hurting and angry about being laid off, or is the pain more a correlation to you feeling like you failed?

              While uncomfortable, exploring your pain is a way to raise your self-awareness. By understanding more about yourself, you know how to deal with similar situations in the future. You can never expect to be numb to difficult situations, but you will learn to better prepare financially for the loss of a job and be grateful for an income since you now know nothing is promised (no matter how much you work or how deserving you may feel).

              Pain Hurts, but Numbness Would Be Worse

              Pain does not feel good, but the bad feeling of it will help you learn and grow. It makes the sweet moments in life even sweeter and the gratitude more sincere.

              To have a happier and more successful life, you don’t learn from success or accomplishment, but through pain and failures. For it is in those moments that you learn how to do better in the future or at least cope a little more easily.

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              You are the strong person you are today because of the hardships this life has presented to you. While you may have felt out of control when those hard times came, the one thing you will always have control over is how you choose to react to things. The next time you hurt or you’re angry or sad, acknowledge it and allow yourself to ruminate in it. Then take a deep breath and start learning from that pain. You’ve got this!

              Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

              Reference

              [1] University of Calgary: Why is Pain Important?
              [2] Greater Good Magazine: The Importance of Pain

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