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Are You Making the Right First Impression?

By Sandy Schroeder

The question of what people think when we meet them is one that we would all love to understand better. When we make a presentation, or do an interview, we do our best to make it work. What happens next can be great or not so great, and figuring that out can be tricky.

Dr. Travis Bradberry, co-founder of TalentSmart, an agency that services 75 percent of Fortune 500 companies, recently explored this issue, citing research from Amy Cuddy, a psychologist at the Harvard Business School.

Cuddy has been studying first impressions for over 10 years. She says people focus on two key questions when they meet someone new.

  • Can I trust this person?
  • Is this person capable?

Cuddy said trust is the most important issue. Competence is signficant, but if the person does not feel they can trust someone it ceases to matter. They won’t want to pursue the situation.

Finding ways to establish trust can be easier if we understand the issues and take a few simple steps.

Stash your phone – Nothing sends a clearer message about your view of the interaction than the way you deal with your phone. Quick glimpses or text messages do not work. When you take the phone out of the equation you can do a one-on-one conversation that could be very productive.

Wait for the other person to begin – You will learn a lot about them from their opening comments, which will allow you to key in on the right issues. Also you will avoid dominating the situation, which may quickly destroy trust. 

Use receptive body language – Lean forward, smile and keep your voice low and positive. Get involved in the conversation and be enthusiastic. Avoid crossed arms, slouching or fiddling with papers. Make the interaction your complete focus. 

Really listen – Let the other person speak and listen to get the message. If you do, you can ask intelligent questions and take the conversation to the next level. Never jump in mid-topic to offer solutions. That implies you have heard enough. It may also lower the person’s trust. Instead, shape your responses to the message, letting it evolve and hopefully grow.

Arrive prepared – Take the time do the research to know who you are talking to and what matters most. The individual will appreciate your effort, and may want to take the conversation further, getting into details of the subject at hand. Arriving unprepared and having to spend time getting up to speed can undermine the person’s trust in you, or simply slow down the meeting.

To learn more about your health and wellness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Windermere, Fla.

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