Recently Dr. Travis Bradberry, author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, posted on LinkedIn about Two Snap Judgments People Make When They First Meet You. He based his article on Amy Cuddy’s research—she’s a psychologist at the Harvard Business School. Amy is well-known for her Ted Talks on “power posing,” and one of her most popular talks is on how Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are. Worth watching!
The information in the article indicates that subconsciously, people base 80-90% of their first impressions and snap judgments on the following two questions they ask themselves about you:
It’s important to note the way in which these two judgment factors play together. In order for your competence to matter, people must trust you first. If there’s no trust, people actually perceive competence as a negative! As Amy Cuddy said, “If someone you’re trying to influence doesn’t trust you, you’re not going to get very far; in fact, you might even elicit suspicion, because you come across as manipulative.”
It has been shown that first impressions are made in a matter of seconds and that they are very, very difficult to change later. First impressions can be so important in a job search effort.
Tips on the Art of the First Impression
Let the person you’re meeting lead the conversation. You can ask good questions to help make this happen. Trust and warmth are created when people feel understood, and they need to be doing a lot of sharing with you for that to happen.
Use positive body language. Using an enthusiastic tone, uncrossing your arms, maintaining eye contact, smiling, and leaning towards the speaker are all forms of positive body language.
Listen actively. Concentrate on what the other person is saying, rather than planning what you’re going to say next or jumping in with solutions. Thinking about what you’re going to say next takes your attention away from the speaker, and hijacking the conversation shows that you think you have something more important to say. Instead ask insightful questions, which means that you’re really paying attention.
Make sure your phone is put away. It’s impossible to build trust and monitor your phone at the same time. Even a quick glance at your phone can turn people off.
Find time for small talk. It’s not a waste of time – for example, research shows that starting meetings with just five minutes of small talk gets better results.
Come prepared. When you can, find out about the people you’ll be meeting and/or the company they work for. People love it when you know things about them that they didn’t have to tell you. Just knowing simple facts that you took the time to learn from their LinkedIn page or company website demonstrates both competence and trustworthiness. Finding something you have in common can be even better.