First Impression Hacks

What kind of first impression do you make? Can you hack it?

What kind of first impression do you make? Can you hack it?

First impressions

They take seconds to make, and are a combination of our nonverbals- everything we communicate about ourselves through what we wear, how we interact with our environment and our body-language.

The feedback I give in coaching is based on research (not just personal opinion). The main theme is: What kind of impression do you give, and do you want to give that impression?

Giving a good first impression

In their book ‘First Impressions; What You Don’t Know About How Other See You‘,  Anne Demaris and Valerie White sum up a good first impression:

‘A good first impression is one that reflects the real you. If you are presenting the best of yourself, the self you want to share, then you are making the impression that is right for you.”

First impression hack

The effects of these hacks are only temporary and only statistically significant (read, ‘not foolproof, or 100% consistent’)

For the brave or foolish, read on:

Hand someone a warm drink

Researchers have found when they handed a person a warm drink, they rated a fictional character as being warmer. You can read more about the study here. This finding is interesting for two reasons:

  1. How we may be influenced by our physical environment
  2. How that is reflected in our language

We talk about a person as being ‘warm’ or ‘cold’. This is interesting for a couple of reasons. One is that it indicates how we perceive the world and our emotional response. The second reason this is interesting is because we may be provoking this response in others when we use this language. This is a very new area of study, which already has findings on how the words ‘lick’, ‘kick’ and ‘pick’ light up the movement centre in our brains, not just the language centre. In other words, we have a physical response to hearing these words. (I wrote a post about this research, you can check it out here)

Simple hack #2; make ’em feel good

This one is simple in theory, but might be more of a challenge in practise.

Try directing your conversation partner to a positive emotional state.

Their positive emotional state will then be associated with you…

The reasons this is a challenge is that:

  1. If you’re determined to stay positive when your conversation partner is not, that would indicate that you are emotionally insensitive.
  2. We’re not talking about any creepy NLP/evoke a mildly hypnotic state in someone only so they will walk away feeling the ‘ickyness of manipulation’
  3. It can be a big challenge, and a very rewarding one, to find out what makes someone light up with interest.

For more tips on first impressions, check out this in-depth post on how to assess your own first impressions. The Secrets of First Impressions



Top 3 references for leadership, confidence and communication

Meeting so many inspiring people at the Movers and Breakers conference at Uluru

Meeting so many inspiring people at the Movers and Breakers conference at Uluru

Last week I had the opportunity to go to Uluru as part of Business Chicks‘ Movers and Breakers conference.

In meeting 80+ people, (well, I didn’t meet that many, but I tried!) there were resources I use in my coaching and group workshops that came up again and again.

The Movers and Breakers in front of Uluru

The Movers and Breakers in front of Uluru

Most of the conversations where this came up, we were discussing:

  1. Self-renewal and emotionally intelligent communication for leaders
  2. Confidence for public speaking, and for ‘speaking up’ in crucial conversations
  3. A book on body language for business as a tool for greater understanding and opportunities to communicate better.

One of the many things I love about the work I have the privilege of doing is that it comes from evidence-based research- which means there are a stack of resources I’m delighted to share that are low, or no-cost pathways to increasing confidence, communication and resonant leadership.

  1. Leading with emotional intelligence

    Inspiring Leadership Through Emotional Intelligence is a free online course though Coursera. It runs again in September, but I think you can sign up and watch the videos and read the readings until then. There is a book, Becoming a Resonant Leader connected to this, and the conference inspired me to start working through it with a study-buddy.

  2. Amy Cuddy’s power pose

    This came up a lot when discussion increasing confidence in public speaking situations, or speaking up in meetings.  I wrote about top three tips to get off the emotional rollercoaster of stage-fright earlier this year. It’s Amy Cuddy’s research that led me into further reading on an area that informs a lot of my current work, Embodied Cognition, which looks at how what we do with our body impacts on our thoughts and behaviours (try Sian Beilock’s How the Body Know Its Mind for more on this).

  3. Deeper understanding of nonverbal communication for negotiations and conversations in business.

    Gone are the days of the 80s where body-language was a party trick. These days, we call them nonverbals, and Ex-FBI specialist, Joe Navarro consults regularly with fortune 500 companies, and watches the nonverbals as part of due diligence. His book, Louder Than Words is directed specifically at the world of work.

Top tip for making learning stick?

In my studies as an educator (the beginning of a masters in education, part of studies in tertiary teaching when I was lecturing at universities) I learned that all the recent data points to this one thing: We learn better, and retain information better when we are in a community of learners.

That’s why I have a study-buddy for the Becoming a Resonant Leader workbook, and why I often initiate a community of practice around things that are important to me (songwriting, bands, meditation). I also know that at some conferences, we can learn things that have the potential to change  our world if we let them. We have a much greater opportunity to sustain that change if we are supported by others.

Grab a friend (or few) check out  and share the links above. They are low-cost, or even free, and will help you become a better leader and communicator.