12 Steps to Great Relationships: Step 7: The First Five Seconds

For details on all of the previous steps, look at previous blogs. Step 1:  Know yourself. Step 2:  Develop a genuine love or acceptance of yourself. Step 3:  Expand your knowledge. Step 4:  Appreciate the differences.  Get perspectives on different values and cultures.  Step 5 is to be open, genuine, and positive. Step 6 is to develop a genuine love or at least acceptance of other people.

Step 7 is to pay attention to the first five seconds.  What are you supposed to do during the introduction? How should you act? Is it really that important? According to numerous studies, that first impression is vital. In the first few seconds, people will judge your intelligence, your socio-economic status, if you are a good person or not, whether or not they like you, and if you are successful or not. We utilize a process in our brain known as the adaptive unconscious. It allows us to do something called thin slicing. Malcolm Gladwell talks about this in his book, Blink. A study was done with a college professor. They asked students to rate his teaching ability after watching three fifteen second videos of him teaching. They rated the professor the same as the students who spent a semester with him. Then, they cut the video clips down to five seconds. The results were the same. The point is, we can determine an awful lot with a minimum amount of information. This is very good for most things. The downside to this ability is stereotyping. First impressions aren’t always right. And you can always overcome poor first impressions, but why should you have to?

We do an exercise where I introduce myself several different ways and then ask the group to write down their impressions of me. It’s amazing the assumptions they make based on a two second encounter. But they do. They will say that I am arrogant, incompetent, shy, mean, angry, or whatever they perceive for that particular introduction. The last introduction is a normal introduction where I relax, smile, make eye contact and use a nice, firm handshake. So let me ask you. What first impression do you create when you meet someone? And if you don’t know the answer to that question, you should definitely find out.

When you are going into a situation where you will be introducing yourself, be deliberate about what you are conveying. Be relaxed, open, smiling, and calm. Make good eye contact and give a nice, firm handshake. Slow your mind down and be prepared to listen for the person’s name. It’s called “original awareness”. You can’t remember anything that you are not aware of. Be deliberate in your quest to remember the person’s name. Repeat it, write it down, write down a short, physical description, whatever it takes to remember their name.
Many people say that they remember the face, but can’t recall the name. So the trick is to associate the face with the name. Whenever I meet someone named John, I think of John the Baptist. I picture their chopped off head on a silver platter with blood and veins below it. When I see them, the name John automatically pops into my head.

You can remember names by making these ridiculous associations. If you know someone with that same name, picture the two people together with a ridiculous visual image. If you want to be really adept at remembering names, get The Memory Book by Jerry Lucas. There is an entire chapter devoted to remembering names. I have recently been made aware of a phenomenon that affects a small percentage of the population. It’s called face blindness. These people have a cognitive disconnect that doesn’t allow them to remember faces, even people they know well.

I was giving an introduction to emotional intelligence to a group of forty geotechnical engineers. They all filed into a large warehouse for a dinner the night before our day of work together. There was also a speaker and two caterers from a local Mexican restaurant. Everyone introduced themselves to me. At the end of the night, I asked them if they wanted a preview for tomorrow. I asked them if they knew everyone there. Since they were from several different offices, they did not. So I introduced all forty people. I also introduced the speaker and the two guys from the Mexican restaurant. They were very impressed, and it created more work for me with their company. Believe me, you can do this. I’m not particularly smart, and I don’t have a photographic memory. It’s just a little technique and a lot of practice.

At these networking events, people usually give you their business card. Don’t be too quick to shove it in your pocket. In Asian cultures, the business card represents the person, so you should never write on it or put it in your pocket. They will give you their business card with both hands usually with a slight bow. They will scrutinize your card and usually make a comment on it. I’m not sure that you have to bow, but I think it makes a great impression to actually read the card and make a comment on it.

During that short encounter, find out as much as you can about that person. Is he married? Does he have kids? What are his hobbies? What school did he go to? Then, write down some of these factoids, and later, put it into your contact database. Also, put down when and where you met him and any other pertinent facts. How many contacts do you have in your database right now that you have no idea who the person is?

Whenever you are in conversation with a person, be fully engaged and mindful of the person who is in front of you. They are the only person in the world as far as you are concerned. Don’t look at your watch or your computer screen or your Blackberry. Don’t be distracted. Be with them fully. For a coffee or lunch meeting, you may want to say to them that you are turning your phone off so you won’t be interrupted. Put your laser beam focus on them. Make them feel important and valued. Make them believe that you are genuinely interested in them and what they have to say. This may be difficult with some people, but even with those difficult people, practice

If you want more information on the 12 steps to great relationships, click here: http://www.amazon.com/Relationship-Skills-Tough-Brent-Darnell/dp/0979925827/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1326056211&sr=8-1

And for all Amazon Prime members, you can borrow the Kindle edition for FREE!

Look for step 8 soon!


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