We’re not sure why people aren’t responding to us.
We think we’re good at reading people.
On today’s episode, we are discussing how to make the best first impression. Whether you’re a CEO trying to better connect with your employees, an introvert wishing to project a bit more confidence, or maybe you judge people the second you see them coming (ps., they see you too) this conversation will provide insights you can apply to your goal.
The Cheat Sheet:
What are the 4 layers of first impressions?
Why is focusing on other people’s body language a fool’s errand?
How do we reverse our primal instinct to mirror other people’s behaviors?
What was AJ’s first impression of Johnny, and vice versa?
Why our is our gut based in fear and how do we ignore its voice?
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More About This Show
First impressions are the foundation of everything.
As Johnny says, “With a great first impression comes a very wide window of opportunity. With a bad first impression comes a slim-to-none window of opportunity.”
If we’re not entering the gates of interpersonal connection with our best foot forward, we create an uphill battle that could have been prevented in the first place.
That’s why here, at The Art of Charm bootcamp, our curriculum focuses a great deal on first impressions. Not surprisingly, it’s the first module of our program. We look at this important aspect of our social connection from different angles: meeting strangers and asking for their thoughts or videotaping first impression exercises, we dial into the mechanics of making sure each participant develops the best first impression they can. For more information on our bootcamp, visit our website here or call 1-833-my-aoc-bootcamp to speak to us.
The 4 Layers of First Impressions
“As human beings, being primates, we are primed to mimic,“ Johnny describes, “Even if you haven’t constantly chosen to mimic certain people—through survival, and being part of the group, you are automatically (through osmosis) going to mimic people in order to fit in. It’s just human nature.”
But we can reverse this evolutionary tendency by controlling our presentation. There are 4 layers to first impressions: our looks, our body language, our style/grooming, and those who we surround ourselves with.
We can tackle these pillars one-by-one. Whether it’s going to the gym or upgrading your wardrobe, taking control is the first step.
“Your mind leads the body. And the body leads the mind. Your thoughts and your posture are inextricably linked,” AJ says.
Once we start taking matters into our own hands, we can open gateways to interpersonal connection that we didn’t previously know existed.
Why First Impressions Are So Important
We’ve all met someone who rubbed us the wrong way.
The CEO who wouldn’t give the time of day, the friend-of-a-friend who didn’t connect with us, despite our best efforts, the girl who turned away from us when we thought we had a chance. Whatever the situation was, we know that when we meet someone for the first time and a negative first impression is made—it’s often hard to reverse.
But a first impression isn’t enough to cement a conclusion. As AJ describes, “We are getting faulty information, so to write people off based on a snapshot, a snap judgement—even though it’s our gut, our intuition, and it feels right—it’s actually the wrong thing to do.”
This is much easier said than done. A 1993 study showed that subjects who saw a 5-second clip of a professor teaching had the exact same feelings towards that professor as those who took an entire semester of his/her course.
What this means is that the first impression is often difficult to shift. Why?
Your Gut Is Based In Fear
The world is a scary, confusing place. We categorize our experiences as a way to make it less so.
When we meet someone who trips an alarm, we’re quick to throw them into the box labeled, “Stay Away,” because it makes our lives easier. The fact that we no longer have to entertain the idea of connecting with that person means a less complicated future.
Johnny describes what happens when you invite the nuance instead, “As soon as there starts to be behaviors that shatter the idea of that person, you have to put together another idea.”
That other idea means more boxes, new labels, and mental labor shifting people’s categorizations. Without being able to store our first impressions away, our minds are forced to constantly be reprocessing and redefining.
AJ tells us what’s required to accept this challenge, “Fighting through that snap judgement is empathy. It’s open-mindedness. It’s something we need to cultivate because we are too quick to write people off.”
So, how do you cultivate that empathy? By working on your own first impression.
The Benefits of Camera Work
Seeing yourself on camera typically induces discomfort.
That’s because you realize there’s a disconnect between how you think you come off and how the world sees you. Here, at The Art of Charm bootcamp, we videotape first impressions to align these two perspectives. But that’s not how we’re hardwired.
AJ puts it in perspective, “Changing your beliefs, thoughts, and emotions is far more difficult than standing a little taller, putting a smile on, and choosing to make eye contact.”
And what happens when we put the effort into bettering our first impression? We start to understand the complexity of it and begin empathizing with those who might not have the best initial vibe when we meet them.
Johnny explains the domino effect, “Life always breaks down to being about sells. Your career—from your services to selling something—it’s all going to be based off whether people are buying into you first. And your first impression is going to go a long way in allowing that to happen.”
Tune in to today’s episode to tackle first impressions from both angles—maximizing your own and empathizing with those who don’t make the best one on you.
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AJ Harbinger - author of 1166 posts on The Art of Charm
AJ Harbinger is one of the world’s top relationship development experts. His company, The Art of Charm, is a leading training facility for top performers that want to overcome social anxiety, develop social capital and build relationships of the highest quality.
Raised by a single father, AJ felt a strong desire to learn about relationships and the elements that make them successful. However, this interest went largely untapped for many years. Following the path set out for him by his family, AJ studied biology in college and went on to pursue a Ph.D. in Cancer Biology at the University of Michigan. It was at this time that he began to feel immense pressure from the cancer lab he worked in and began to explore other outlets for expression. It was at this point that The Art of Charm Podcast was born.
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