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If Looks Could Kill | 8 Killer Ways to Dominate Every First Impression

If Looks Could Kill | 8 Killer Ways to Dominate Every First Impression

Everyone is familiar with the saying, “A picture speaks a thousand words.” It is very much also the case that first impressions speak a thousand words. As admirable as the appeal is to never judge a book by its cover, we unfortunately do not possess the capability to peer deep into another person’s soul to understand the content of their character. The reality is that we all make very quick judgements based off first impressions.

In fact, Malcolm Gladwell, the eminent author, dedicated a whole book, Blink, to highlight the snap decisions that we make.

One of the most fascinating cases that he covers in the book involves groups of students who are asked to give an evaluation on a teacher. One group gave evaluations after a whole semester in class with the professor; another group watched a one hour video of the professor; one group was shown half an hour video; and the last group was shown merely two seconds—with no sound.

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Can you guess the results? The last group that watched merely two seconds of video with absolutely no sound gave the same evaluations as the students that spend a whole semester in class with the professor!

Our snap-judgments and first impressions are pretty impressively accurate. Many psychologists will also note that in job interviews, hiring decisions are subconsciously made within the first few seconds of the meeting. It is clear that making a great first impression is absolutely crucial!

Here are 8 ways you can dominate every first impression.

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1. Smile

Dr. Vivian Diller is a psychologist who studies the role of beauty in contemporary culture and has pointed out that, of all human facial features, it is a person’s smile that elicits the most positive and immediate reaction from others. Anytime you are out in public, and particularly if you have a meeting with someone, make sure you have those “pearly whites” ready to flash.

2. Mind Your Body Language

Amy Cuddy, in her Ted Talk titled, Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are, with over fourteen million views, uncovers the fascinating relationship between our body postures and not only how it influences our own feelings and perceptions, but also how it influences other’s perceptions of us. Stand up straight and walk tall. Not only will you experience the empowering effects, but so will the person you are about to meet.

3. See it and Believe it

The power of visualization has received immense credibility in light of recent developments in the field of Neuropsychology. It has been shown that the brain does not differentiate between an image that is imagined in the mind and what plays out in reality. This explains why so many athletes are coached to mentally rehearse something in their mind before they physically engage in it. Before your meeting, play out a successful meeting in your mind: see yourself as that confident, smiling person that is absolutely and impressively off the charts.

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4. Talk To Yourself

Positive self-talk has been around for a long time and has been used and advocated by many successful people in the world. Just like a coach yelling encouragement from the sidelines, we can do the same thing for ourselves. Tell yourself that you are an incredibly confident person with an amazing smile that leaves an incredibly positive impression on everyone that you meet. Come up with your own little mantra and repeat that to yourself before that next important meeting.

5. Talk For Yourself

This is important in group scenarios. Although it is okay to have another person make the initial introduction with your name, it should not go much further than that. That is, when you need to step in and engage in conversations and speak for yourself. A confident person initiates conversation, ask questions, and engages with the person they are talking to—not merely being a bystander and adding sporadic commentary here and there.

6. Dress to Impress

Get out that GQ suit or Valentino dress. Jennifer Baumgartner, a clinical psychologist and author of You Are What You Wear, notes the correlation between your state of mind and your outfit. If you cannot impress yourself with the way you are dressed, then you are not going to feel very impressive. More importantly, the people you meet aren’t going to be very impressed.

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7. Everyone Is A Gold Ticket

Your thoughts will become apparent in your attitude and the way you convey yourself. If you think the person you are talking to is just a waste of time, then you will treat them that way. The truth is, we have no idea what anyone has the capability of doing. They personally may not have the ability to open a huge door for us, but their best friend might be the CEO of the company we are dying to work for. Treat everyone as though they have the potential to change your destiny.

8. The “Elevator Pitch”

What if you only had 30 seconds to convince someone not to kill you? Hopefully, you will never ever have to be in that situation, though it definitely is a great way for you to think about how to put together a great introduction for yourself. An important point when meeting with new people is not to dominate the conversation. Have your introduction succinct enough to give a little snippet into who you are, but be sure to ask them to share about them. Make the other person feel important by being interested in them, and you will be surprised at how interested they become in you.

You will most likely meet a new person today, whether at the grocery store check-out, catching a bus, a new client at work, or that big interview. Make sure you walk through all 8 of these steps and you will no doubt leave them with a great first impression that will last!

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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