Great impressions and bull riding…?

800px-Bull-Riding2-SzmurloRiding a bull just might be easier than making a good impression. Eight seconds are about all you have to make a great impression on the people you meet.

For the bull rider, that eight seconds must feel like waiting for Christmas Day. For the rest of us, it’s gone in the blink of an eye.

Here’s what happens in the first eight seconds after someone meets you:

  • They evaluate your social standing to see if you have the same level of business or social standing.  If so, you are considered suitable for further interaction.
  • If your appearance suggests a higher status, you’re admired and deemed “valuable.”
  • If your appearance suggests a lower social level, you’re tolerated but kept at arm’s length.

That might seem like a harsh reality, but it’s one we must accept; science confirms it!  Once you’ve made an impression it’s almost impossible to change.  So, what’s a bull rider to do?

Mastering the art of a great first impression is a life skill.  Here are 8 tips for making a great impression:

  1. It’s not just WHAT you wear but also HOW you wear it!  If you’re going out in public (doctor’s office, parent/teacher conference, Junior League meeting, etc.) dress up.  Not pearls but at least ironed and stain-free.  That include trimmed nose and ear hair!   The saying is, “clothes make the man.” Pay attention to the details. Less is more.
  2. When you see enter a room, stand and walk up to greet the person you’re meeting versus waiting for them to walk to you.  Waiting on someone to approach you can reflect as a passive and unsure.  Rotate your shoulders up, back, and down.  That will help make sure your posture is straight.
  3. Know your “opening line.”  If you know you’re going to be meeting new people, thing ahead.  Prepare so you have a point of connection ready.  When introducing yourself, make sure you use an “identifying phrase.”  That lets people know why they should care.  “Hi, I’m Lynley Jones and I’m your speaker today.”
  4. When starting a conversation with someone you’ve never met, ask a question or ask for advice.  Everyone LOVES to talk about themselves.  Get the person talking about a subject they love and you’ll be golden.
  5. Attitude is everything. Carry yourself with confidence and genuine enthusiasm. People aren’t attracted to weakness (that’s not my fault–it’s a law of nature).  But arrogance can be equally off-putting. When you walk through a doorway, smile and lift your chin just a smidgen.  Smiling is such an easy way of paving the way between two people.  Never underestimate the power of the smile!
  6. Don’t fidget. Just chill.  Avoid nervous movements like looking at your watch (which says you’re in a hurry), looking around, or fiddling with your pen/purse.  Maintain eye contact. We are naturally attracted to those who smile, and eye contact demonstrates confidence.
  7. Stay focused. Tune out everything, staying completely attentive to the person you’re meeting. Avoid the temptation to glance away when someone walks by. Turn your cellphone off and put it out of sight.  Seriously people…we’ve had cell phones long enough now to know and use good cell phone manners.

    No matter what’s going on in your head–keep eye contact and use the 2-1 ratio.  Two ears and one mouth…meaning more listening, less talking.

  8. Your handshake should of course be firm. Styles to avoid: the dead fish, the bone crusher, the two-handed shake, the controller where you pull the prospect closer, the politician where your other hand is placed on the prospect’s forearm or shoulder, the cupped shake where your palm doesn’t touch your prospect’s palm, indicating you’re shy or hiding something. (Lori Turner-Wilson, Daily News)

One more thing…you also have to be constantly aware of your facial expressions. Research tells us that the traits we immediately attribute to strangers based solely on their face includes intelligence, honesty, dominance, competence, trustworthiness, and likability.  And of course, perception influences our behavior.

Now, go…get on that bull and ride!

PHOTO CREDIT: Bull riding at the Calgary Stampede. Photo by Chuck Szmurlo taken July 10, 2007

Here’s an excerpt from Michael Woodward, PhD, The Psychology of a Good First Impression:

What You See in the Blink of an Eye: Researchers out of Princeton University have found that people make judgments about such things as trustworthiness, competence, and likeability within a fraction of a second after seeing someone’s face. In their study Janine Willis and Alexander Todorov found that out of all the traits examined the participants judged trustworthiness the quickest (within 100 milliseconds). Even when given more time their judgments about trustworthiness typically didn’t change, which means our initial split-second assessments pretty much stick.

In a News at Princeton interview Todorov explained, “We decide very quickly whether a person possesses many of the traits we feel are important, such as likeability and competence, even though we have not exchanged a single word with them. It appears that we are hard-wired to draw these inferences in a fast, unreflective way.” However, Todorov cautions, “The link between facial features and character may be tenuous at best, but that doesn’t stop our minds from sizing other people up at a glance.” This is why it’s good to walk into any first meeting feeling confident and comfortable because it will likely show on your face.

About allthingsetiquette

Lynley Jones presents Behave! All things Etiquette, an interactive and hilarious undertaking that will help you how to navigate your world with style and confidence. All Things Etiquette is an endeavor to further society's niceties, build self-esteem, self-respect, and respect for others.
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