It’s the time of year to reflect on the past twelve months. It’s the time we start thinking about changes we’ll make next year—the goals we want to accomplish. And, we also start thinking about where we want to end up in the long-term future. “Will I accomplish the things I intend to in my career? Did I make the impact I wanted to? Have I become the person I wanted to be at work?” These questions can be daunting for some people—especially if they start feeling that they’ve taken a career misstep. This became clear to us when a young friend recently asked us the question, “David, Todd, how do I know if my career is headed in the wrong direction?”
It’s the little things that make the first impression a good one, and the importance of establishing trust cannot be overstated. Now if someone would just tell this to the politicians! We often think of body language as a result of our attitude or how we feel. This is true, but psychologists have also shown that the reverse is true: changing your body language changes your attitude.
People gravitate toward those who are passionate. That said, it’s easy for passionate people to come across as too serious or uninterested because they tend to get absorbed in their work. Likeable people balance their passion with the ability to have fun. At work they are serious, yet friendly. They still get things done because they are socially effective in short amounts of time and they capitalize on valuable social moments.
When you touch someone during a conversation, you release oxytocin in their brain, a neurotransmitter that makes their brain associate you with trust and a slew of other positive feelings. A simple touch on the shoulder, a hug, or a friendly handshake is all it takes to release oxytocin. Of course, you have to touch the right person in the right way to release oxytocin, as unwanted or inappropriate touching has the opposite effect. Just remember, relationships are built not just from words, but also from general feelings about each other.
Be careful to avoid sharing personal problems and confessions too quickly, as this will get you labeled a complainer. Likeable people let the other person guide when it’s the right time for them to open up. Being genuine and honest is essential to being likable. No one likes a fake. People gravitate toward those who are genuine because they know they can trust them. It is difficult to like someone when you don’t know who they really are and how they really feel.
People naturally (and unconsciously) mirror the body language of the person they’re talking to. If you want people to like you, smile at them during a conversation and they will unconsciously return the favor and feel good as a result. Smiling is a positive signal that is underused by leaders. A smile is an invitation, a sign of welcome and inclusion.
Your name is an essential part of your identity, and it feels terrific when people use it. Likeable people make certain they use others’ names every time they see them. You shouldn’t use someone’s name only when you greet him. Research shows that people feel validated when the person they’re speaking with refers to them by name during a conversation.
Research shows most people decide whether or not they like you within the first seven seconds of meeting you. They then spend the rest of the conversation internally justifying their initial reaction. This may sound terrifying, but by knowing this you can take advantage of it to make huge gains in your likeability. First impressions are tied intimately to positive body language. Strong posture, a firm handshake, smiling, and opening your shoulders to the person you are talking to will help ensure that your first impression is a good one. While hiring managers work to recruit the best and brightest talent in their industry, top recruits are evaluating firms to determine which will be the best fit. Of course, as a recruiter, you’re often tasked with representing your entire organization, meaning it’s especially important that you make a positive and lasting first impression. A few suggestions that will help recruiters and recruits nail that first meeting, lay the groundwork for a productive conversation and serve as a positive representation:
Becoming cognizant of your gestures, expressions, and tone of voice (and making certain they’re positive) will draw people to you like ants to a picnic. Using an enthusiastic tone, uncrossing your arms, maintaining eye contact, and leaning towards the person who’s speaking are all forms of positive body language that high-EQ people use to draw others in. Positive body language can make all the difference in a conversation. It’s true that how you say something can be more important than what you say.
Few things make you more unlikeable than when you’re all over the place. When people approach you, they like to know who they’re dealing with and what sort of response they can expect. To be consistent you must be reliable, and you must ensure that even when your mood goes up and down it doesn’t affect how you treat other people.
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