Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Good First Impressions

Why Outsiders Win Elections (Snap Judgments are Everything) by Travis Bradberry on LinkedIn.com. Another in my series to make my blog more informative and boring.
Trump. Bernie Sanders. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jessie Ventura, Al Franken. A Harvard Business School study shows we make snap judgments about other people that answer two primary questions: (1) can I trust this person? And (2) can I respect this person’s capabilities? 80-90% of a first impression is based on these two traits.
You’d think competence is the most important factor, but for that to matter people must trust you first. Without trust, competence is a negative. Voters are ignoring Washington insiders because they don’t trust them. An outsider who appears even moderately trustworthy is deemed to be far more competent than an established candidate who has already violated a voter’s trust. This helped Obama get elected in 2008.
How to master the art of the first impression: Since it only takes a few seconds for someone to decide if you are trustworthy and competent, and research shows that first impressions are difficult to change, the pressure that comes with meeting new people is justifiably intense (never been a worry for me). These same tips are useful for every conversation you have, especially with a loved one.
Let the person you’re meeting with speak first. Why people like Ceil so much. You can ask questions to help this along. Speaking first shows dominance, and that won’t help you build trust. People like to talk.
Use positive body language. Gestures, expressions, tone of voice. Use an enthusiastic tone, uncross your arms, maintain eye contact, lean towards the speaker.
Put away your phone. Nothing turns people off like a mid-conversation text or even a quick glance at your phone. Conversations are more enjoyable when you immerse yourself in them.
Make time for small talk (something I’m terrible at). Small talk is a trust builder. Meetings are more productive when you start them off with small talk – perhaps worship services as well?
Practice active listening. This means concentrating on what the other person is saying rather than thinking about what you’re going to say next (even to a socially ignorant person like me, it’s obvious and irritating when someone does this). Asking insightful questions is a great way to illustrate that you’re really paying attention. If you’re not checking for understanding or asking a probing question you shouldn’t be talking.
Not only does thinking about what you’re going to say next take your attention away from the speaker, hijacking the conversation shows that you think you have something more important to say. This means who shouldn’t jump in with solutions to the speaker’s problems. When we do this we’re shutting the other person down and destroying trust. It’s essentially a more socially acceptable way of saying “Okay, I’ve got it. You can stop now.”
Do your homework. People love it when you know things about them that they didn’t have to share. Not creepy stuff but facts you took the time to learn. It’s crucial when a first meeting is planned ahead of time. This demonstrates competence and trustworthiness by highlighting your initiative and responsibility.
It’s the little things that make a first impression a good one, and the importance of establishing trust cannot be overstated. Now if someone would just tell this to the politicians!

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