They say you only have one shot at a first impression, but did you know you can manipulate the first impression you make?
Harvard Business School professor Amy Cuddy studied first impressions for more than 15 years and has discovered certain patterns. When people meet someone for the first time they ask themselves two questions:
• Can I trust this person?
• Can I respect this person?
Now that it has been established how first impressions are formed, can we also find ways to influence the formation process?
We can influence how trustworthy we appear
The perception of you as trustworthy lies in your ability to express warmth and competence. And there are ways you can communicate this to others.
1. Show empathy
We tend to trust people more when we feel as if they understand us and are just like us. That is why, in a conversation, you should try to find common interests to talk about. Perhaps a travel experience that you both have, or a musician you both like.
One study by Harvard Business School and Wharton showed that we trust to lend someone our phone when the person first said: Ï’m so sorry about the rain!”. It shows the persons understand the situation you are in ànd that he is in the same situation.
2. Show your trust in others
People tend to lead by example. When you show your trust in others, they are more likely to trust you. You can do this by explicitly expressing trust (“I know you can handle this job”) or by actually letting someone do a task or project for you. You can also do this by sharing intimate information about yourself, showing that you trust the person you are sharing it with.
3. Show strong willpower
Willpower and trustworthiness are related traits. Wouldn’t you rather trust someone to get a job done when you know they have strong willpower? This effect was shown in a study by VU University Amsterdam . Researchers concluded that when you show behaviors indicative of low willpower, your trustworthiness diminishes.
We can influence how respectable we appear
1. Speak your mind
Stop being shy about speaking your mind. Especially when you first meet someone it’s good to show who you are by sharing your opinion. Also, say ‘no’ when you don’t want to do something. It shows confidence and self-respect.
2. Speak up when you or someone else is being mistreated
Don’t let anyone do you wrong and when you stand up for someone else you will be respected even more.
3. Believe in your ideas and be inspiring
Share your ideas or what you believe in without holding back. Passion is not only attractive but it’s also contagious: your company will feel more passionate themselves and attribute the feeling to you.
4. Keep your promises
It’s hard to show that you keep your promises when you first meet someone but you can do this. You can simply tell someone you are a (wo)man of your word, or you could hint that you are disappointed that someone else did not. Keep it subtle and positive though (gossip is a absolute no-go if you want to be respected!).
But there is one other factor that influences how we perceive someone: our mood.
How our mood influences our perception of others
In one study participants where shown sad and happy film clips, which induced sad and happy moods. They had to rate pictures of faces in terms of attractiveness, likeability, trustworthiness, competence and aggressiveness. The participants in the sadness group rated the faces more harshly than the participants in the happiness group.
So if you meet someone after they have watched a funny movie or standup comedy show you’ve got the cat in the bag.
Now, will you try this at home?