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Others Judge You Even Before You Meet Them, Here’s Why

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Others Judge You Even Before You Meet Them, Here’s Why

We all have that friend that we need to warn others of before they meet them. Before you meet them, your friend tells you to brace yourself because they can be kind of rude. He tends to make fun of people, but she’s known him for years so she’s used to him. But now before you’ve even met him, you have a negative impression of him.

This inclination to judge before you’ve even met someone is natural. They say that the first impression is important, but sometimes you can make an impression before even meeting someone.

A judgement call is made at light speed

Impressions are instant. It only takes 100 milliseconds to make an impression. When forming a first impression, two areas of the brain are utilized: the amygdala and the posterior cingulated cortex (PCC).

The amygdala is more practical, translating the data received by your senses and linking them to social signals. While the PCC is related to emotion and memory, linking your life experiences to your emotions. These two responses help you to quickly decide whether or not you approve the person you are meeting and want to keep them around.[1]

It’s a survival instinct to quickly assess a person to determine if they are a threat. Things such as how they dress or their initial behavior help you to make a quick judgment upon meeting a person. But hearing about their behavior without ever having even met them can cause you to form an opinion as well.

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    When presented with this information, your brain will try to draw a connection to a related memory. But if you don’t have any relevant memories, your brain will try to compensate for the lack of information.

    The reason why our brains try to connect this new information with previous experiences is so that you can quickly assess the value of this new person and if they are worthy of meeting again. Just the same, if someone that you are close to expresses their opinion of someone you’ve never met, it will cause you to form an opinion as well.

      Now that you have a vague impression of this person, your brain may start making up stories about them. This will give yourself a better idea of who they are with what little information that you have.

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      The instant judgement could be false

      Without meaning to, you now have a set bias against this person even though you really don’t know them. When you’ve formed a  negative opinion of someone you haven’t met, it can be difficult to change the way you feel. Your bias may even be apparent to the person without you meaning to.

      When you do finally meet them, everything they do and say will confirm your opinion of them. Any behavior to the contrary will be written off as an exception, because you think that you already know who they really are. This preemptive bias can possibly sabotage what could have been a good relationship.

      Contrarily, if someone that you are close to compliments an individual before you meet them, this will cause you to form a positive opinion of them prior to meeting them. This opinion of them will be difficult to sway, cause although it is a positive opinion, it’s still a bias opinion.

        A toxic person who is described to you as a good friend has an advantage because you are already accepting them. This will give them more opportunity to prove themselves as a good person despite their numerous displays of toxic behavior. This bias could cause you to potentially build a relationship with someone you probably don’t need in your life.

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        Others judge you the same way

        Many people may already have opinions of you without ever having met you. If your peers are told good things about you before meeting you, it will probably make it easier for you to mingle with them because they already have a good impression of you.

        The opposite applies if your peers were told negative stories before meeting you. Even if they weren’t intentionally badmouthing you, it can still cause a rift between you and your new acquaintances.

          To prevent falling into this trap of forming any toxic relationship, or setting anyone up for a bad impression which you don’t intend to, start with correcting the way you think.

          Think for yourself

          Although it is natural to form impressions based on the opinions of others, don’t. Our brains are hardwired to make these assessments. But you can choose to question them. Hold off on solidifying them. Give this new person a chance to prove you wrong.

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          Keep an open mind. You don’t know what other variables may influence their opinion. Attempt to objectively observe the person and their behavior. Not specifically just how they interact with you, but how they interact with other people as well.

          When you don’t let other opinions effect your own, you are more open to developing strong relationships with people you may have not given a chance. You are capable of forming your own opinions and deciding who is worthy of staying in your life.

          Watch what you say

          Don’t badmouth people. Not only is it unbecoming, but you are causing other people to form negative opinions about someone that you do actually like.

          For instance, people tend to complain about their lovers when they aren’t getting along. It isn’t that they don’t actually want to be with them, but they need to vent. But now everyone who has heard them complain thinks that their partner is no good for them and should get kicked to the curb.

          Notice how your words can effect and shape how others view reality. You can use this trick to your advantage by putting those you care for in a positive light before introducing them to people who are important to you.

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          By helping to form a good impression of someone before introducing them, you are creating an opportunity for a postive bond between the two parties and you too.

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          Anna Chui

          Anna is the Chief Editor and Content Strategist of Lifehack. She's also a communication expert who shares tips on motivation and relationships.

          The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You The Purpose Of Friendship: The Only 4 Types Of Friends You Need In Life How Self-Doubt Keeps You Stuck (And How to Overcome It) How to Live Life to the Fullest and Enjoy Each Day 30 Books Everyone Should Read At Least Once In Their Lives

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          Last Updated on July 20, 2021

          How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

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          How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

          You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

          Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

          Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

          Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

          1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

          According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

          “Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

          Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

          Warming up

          If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

          If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

          Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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          1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
          2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
          3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

          Stay hydrated

          Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

          To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

          Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

          Meditate

          Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

          Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

          Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

          Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

          2. Focus on your goal

          One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

          Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

          Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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          Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

          If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

          3. Convert negativity to positivity

          There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

          ‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

          It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

          Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

          Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

          Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

          4. Understand your content

          Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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          However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

          “No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

          Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

          Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

          One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

          5. Practice makes perfect

          Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

          In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

          Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

          6. Be authentic

          There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

          Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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          Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

          To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

          With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

          Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

          7. Post speech evaluation

          Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

          Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

          We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

          You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

          Improve your next speech

          As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

          Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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          • How did I do?
          • Are there any areas for improvement?
          • Did I sound or look stressed?
          • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
          • Was I saying “um” too often?
          • How was the flow of the speech?

          Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

          If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

          Reference

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