Meetings, Body language and the art of making a great first impression

Believe it or not but despite all our sophistication when we meet someone for the first time our primal instincts are doing most of the work for us. In the brief few seconds of a first meeting the senses have assessed this new person and hard wired the results to the brain. So while we are still enouncing the H in Hello our primal auditor has already decided if this person is a threat, safe or a possible mate. Obviously we then start to filter the results and process them through our own filters so a possible mate gets scrapped because the wife card is played by the committed part of the brain. A dodgy character may be given the benefit of the doubt because he is wearing a sharp suit and looks like he is wealthy, the new co-worker’s intention to stab you in the back and take your job may be missed because you have a soft spot for bald men, and so on.

So while we are still saying the rest of the syllables of hello lets open our eyes and really get the measure of this person.

Try to disconnect from knee jerk tried and tested prejudice

We all have preconceived ideas about ‘certain types of people’ generated from our own experience or that of our peers and we tend to try and saddle the new person with some sort of label. This is a natural process as we are more comfortable with new people when we have placed them in some sort of category.
We need to try to turn this off or at least discount the judgement otherwise we only get a 2 dimensional impression of this person that is lost amongst all the others in the same category. So if you have just met a ‘dizzy blond’, ‘smooth talking salesman’, ‘corporate climber’ or an ‘arrogant egotist’, hang in there and try to get the true measure of the person. Of course you may have been right the first time round!

Look at the person in front of you!

You see this happening at networking events where upon introduction one or even both parties will look away. For example: In the middle of a handshake one or neither of the people shaking hands are making eye contact with each other. The rules of a manly handshake are to make eye contact, shake hands firmly and even smile.
Not making eye contact in an initial meeting is an indicator of dishonesty or disinterest. And of course you miss the opportunity to study and connect to the person.

As all people are different then it follows that every encounter will be different. Be open to what your senses are telling you about the meeting and remember that it takes hours to achieve the same level of connection that a good handshake can achieve in less than 4 seconds.

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