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Last Updated on February 27, 2018

How to Make Someone Like You Before They Even Meet You

How to Make Someone Like You Before They Even Meet You

As humans, first impressions are very important. While we’ve heard that someone makes their first assumptions of you in the first 60 seconds of meeting, latest research by psychologists Janine Willis and Alexander Todorov from Princeton University have found it’s much much quicker than that. In fact it’s thought to happen within a tenth of a second.

In other words, it’s our facial appearance that will make or break a first impression with our brains instinctively looking for likeability, competence, trustworthiness, and aggressiveness.[1]

So can a negative first impression in that valuable blink of an eye be reversed?

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We All Judge and Make Assumptions

We don’t make judgements out of spite. It’s the human instinct to survive that causes us to make a decision to judge in order to decide if a particular person is worth keeping around or not, as quickly as possible.

There are a couple of things going on in the brain here: our lack of relevant memories we hold with a new person causes the brain to compensate for the lack of information. It therefore tries to make connections through what we see and hear together with past experiences. This is the survival mode kicking in that helps us make that decision on whether it’s someone worth meeting again and weighs up the value of the person to us.

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    What Can Influence People’s Perception?

    You may think what you see is a big factor in first impressions and, of course, it is. But have you ever formed an opinion of someone you’ve never met just by listening to someone else’s opinions of them? This is because the brain tends to make up stories or imagine information strongly based on our deep-rooted thoughts and beliefs.

    As a result, when you do meet someone after hearing opinions about them, everything they do will tend to further reinforce that imagined impression. If they happen to act in a different way, the brain will assume it’s just an exception in the moment.

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      This is why, when you form an impression of someone you’re about to meet, it can be very difficult to change how you think about them. Most of the time we are unaware this first impression bias is going on. If you’ve heard Fred is a forward-thinking entrepreneur and you’re ideas of forward-thinking entrepreneurs tend to be aggressive, cut-throat, confident people, Fred will have a hard time convincing you differently even if he shows he’s none of those things. This isn’t because you’re a terrible person; it’s the first impression bias taking over.

      Override The First Impression Bias

      We all want to make a good first impression with anyone we meet and one of the most common ways to do this is to give a compliment. Compliments are little gifts you can give others especially when they’re meaningful and genuine. However, there is a danger to giving compliments to people you first meet. It’s nothing to do with you and everything to do with them; people tend to discount your efforts because they suspect you are intentionally trying to influence them through flattery even if this isn’t your intention. A way to get around this is to get someone else to pass on the compliment. This naturally reduces skepticism.

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        The third party route can work the other way; getting someone to say something good about you. This is because it psychologically shapes their idea of you in a positive light. This is a strategy that will instantly help you mingle with people who you haven’t met before as they’ll subconsciously like you from what they’ve heard. Of course, this can go against you if someone was to bad-mouth you (even unintentionally) and as a result people will naturally be more wary and closed off towards you.

        There are some things to keep in mind when doing this:

        • Never force anyone to speak about you. A compliment through a third party must always come from the heart. Asking a friend to do something they don’t want to do won’t come from a genuine energy. It could also backfire and cause that person to end up saying negative things about you. Just make sure you choose a person who knows you really well and would love to emphasise your positive attributes.
        • Choose the type of compliment wisely. Make sure the compliment isn’t aimed at anything superficial like looks. Whether it’s a romantic opportunity or just friendship, it’s our personality that forms deep connections. So make it more about how kind, helpful or fun you are. This will cause less judgement in advance than your outward appearance.
        • Don’t lie or exaggerate. It can be tempting to build yourself up to others in order to give a good impression but this only lasts in the short term. Getting someone to lie will never turn out well because people will always notice eventually if something doesn’t match up. Make sure the compliment is genuine and coming from a good place.

        So, while a tenth of a second is all it takes to make a judgement (and something we can’t really control) the best way to counteract any possible negative conclusions someone makes of you, is to use the third party tactic. Sowing the seed first will allow someone to form a more positive opinion of you and will help give you a head start by eliminating the brain’s tendency to judge on a first meeting.

        Featured photo credit: Freepik via freepik.com

        Reference

        [1]Association for Psychological Science: How Many Seconds to a First Impression?

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        The Gentle Art of Saying No

        The Gentle Art of Saying No

        No!

        It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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        But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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        What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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        But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

        1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
        2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
        3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
        4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
        5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
        6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
        7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
        8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
        9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
        10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

        Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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