samedi 16 décembre 2006

The First Four Seconds

Your body language and your physical appearance will jump-start your
instant likability, your persuasiveness, and most importantly how you
are perceived by every person who meets you. You have less than 10
seconds and realistically closer to four seconds to make a good first
impression on those with whom you come into contact. A world of re-
search clearly indicates that you will be judged professionally and per-
sonally in the first few seconds of your meeting someone for the first
time. In fact, your first impression is recorded and is used as a yard-
stick for all future communication by those you meet. Whatever that
first impression is going to be on your part, you want it to be intentional
and on purpose.
The First Impression
The second one person sees another, a lot happens in the unconscious
mind.The conscious results are often seemingly instantaneous. Do any of
these thoughts sound familiar to you?
“It’s a gut instinct. I don’t like her. I can’t put my finger on it.”
“There’s just something about him that bugs me. I don’t know what it
is, but I can always tell.”
“My intuition tells me that he’s just not right.”
People think and feel these thoughts when they observe mixed signals
from people they meet.There is an internal conflict between the nonver-
bal (we’ll call it “body language” from here on in) and the verbal signals a
person receives.The sad part is that people really believe they have good
instincts and that they should trust their intuition.Why sad? Because when
there are mixed messages in communication the person tends to say “no”
because “it” doesn’t feel “right.”
You see someone new: In the first four seconds of that encounter (or
observation!) an incredible amount of processing happens in your brain at
the unconscious level.You’ll never know what went on.
Would you like to have a clue as to what is going on in the three-
pound machine behind your eyes?
When you first meet someone, millions of neurons in the brain are
activated.Your brain immediately wakes up. The brain instantly tries to
categorize the person into a certain type.Who is she like? Is that good? Is
she attractive? What’s unique about her? What is familiar about her? All of
this is done without thought and awareness. It’s the way the brain works.
If you had to consciously analyze everything about everyone new you
met, you would be so busy at the conscious level that you’d have ab-
solutely no time to think about anything but how they look. Instead, the
unconscious mind immediately goes to work, makes all kinds of judg-
ments and evaluations, and essentially pegs the person as a winner or loser
in approximately four seconds.
Sometimes all of this happens in less than four seconds and sometimes
it takes a little more time, but in those first moments after one person
meets another there is an intensely powerful “yes” or “no” response.This
response is about the person. It has nothing to do with their religion, their
political party, or their product or service. It’s just “yes” or “no.”
When you first see someone, you instantly categorize and/or filter the
person you are observing into one of many different categories. One way
the brain categorizes is whether the brain believes that the person is of
high status or low status within the group.That’s important because hu-
mans (and animals in general) are wired to be attracted to the more pow-
erful and higher-status individuals in any given group. Another instant
filter is whether your brain finds the person attractive, unattractive, or
somewhere in between.
The brain also notes whether the individual being observed pays at-
tention to their physical appearance.
The brain does a great deal more than just a little processing in those
first few seconds. It also notes the person’s intentionally chosen emblems
and adornments (broaches, pins, necklace, rings, other jewelry, makeup,
style of glasses, tattoos, and body markings/piercings). All of this is ob-
served, filtered, and categorized almost instantly by the various parts of the
brain.Ultimately what happens is that you get a response or reaction inside
that indicates to you whether you accept and maybe like all that you see or
(more likely) that you are disinterested or do not like what you see.
There is nothing fair, politically correct, or reasonable about this
process. It is an instant evaluation that is almost always permanent and
rarely given a conscious—or second—thought. The exception occurs
when someone you see is on the bubble.There are some people you see
that your initial response to is “yes.”Yes, you like them; yes they are attrac-
tive;yes,they have taste;and yes,they appear to be healthy and so on.Most
people you see are processed, literally, as “no.”The answer to a question
they might ask you is a polite but certain “no.”The amount of respect you
would have for them is “no.”They simply are “no.” But there is a small
group of people to whom you say “maybe” regardless of whether a ques-
tion has been asked.This group of people includes people who are on the
bubble.This group is the only one that doesn’t get an unconscious “yes”or
“no.”They get a “hmmmmm. . . .” Like the “yes,” they get your attention
but you wonder about them. Something doesn’t seem right about them.
What is it?
It’s the fact that unlike the majority of people whom you instantly fil-
ter into “yes” and “no” piles, certain people have incongruencies about
them. Perhaps they are not attractive, but they have taste and style and you
approve of other filters as well.Or perhaps they are attractive but they have
numerous body markings and piercings that give you pause to wonder
about them.These people fall into a “maybe yes” category.
Oh . . . and no question has been asked yet. No one has said hello.
They may not even have looked at you, but you have already said “yes,”
“no,” or “maybe” and you haven’t a clue as to who they are or whether
you will meet them.
You simply walked past each other in the terminal at the airport or in
the hall at the office.You don’t know this person.They might have an ap-
pointment with you or you may never say “hello”to them in your life.But
you do say “yes” or “no” long before you say “hello,” and that is why they
must do everything they can to get you to say “yes,” even when they don’t
know you are there . . . and you must do the same if you are to hear “yes” once
you communicate with someone.
Most men see a woman’s body type first.Then they see her face. Most
women see a man’s face first, then his body type. (Throughout this book
you will discover that men and women think very differently and commu-
nicate very differently.Understanding what is important to the majority of
men and women will help you hear “yes” far more often than you will
hear “no.”)
The instant you first see someone, and long before you even are
aware that that someone is going to say “hello” to you, you have already
said “yes” or “no” to them and they have already said “yes” or “no”
to you.
To overcome these initial and instant impressions takes an enormous
amount of work.The instant impression is still somewhat permeable and
could be overruled; it doesn’t happen often, but it does happen. It’s much
easier to radiate a powerful and positive impression at all times so you
never have to determine whether you are exhibiting a positive impression!
In the next three seconds—long before people say “hello”—most de-
cisions are becoming less permeable. Time is short for you to get from
“maybe/no” to “maybe/yes.”
It makes no difference whether you are selling cars, showing real es-
tate, going into a conference with the sixth-grade teacher, searching for a
mate, or watching the church soloist.The maybe/approve, maybe/disap-
prove reaction is instantaneous. It’s unconscious.You aren’t even aware you
made the judgment except in those few cases when someone is on the
bubble.You simply made the decision—except you didn’t.Your uncon-
scious mind made the decision and you had nothing to do with it!
It seems absolutely absurd to think that someone will instantly evalu-
ate you for a job,a relationship,a business deal,or anything,for that matter,
based on an instant impression! But remember, every human being alive
makes these unconscious evaluations.
The First Appearance in Action
In 2002, I asked the owner of an adult learning facility to let me host a
“speed dating” night. I just wanted to learn whether people could really
make a “no, I don’t want to ever date this person” or “yes, I’d like to go on
another date with this person” decision in six minutes.
The promotion went in the catalog as an evening where you could
have 10 dates or more with 10 different people in two hours.Total price?
$49.As I expected, the turnout was impressive.
Each date lasted six minutes. Exactly six minutes.At the end of each
six minutes the individuals would write “Y” or “N” on a three-by-five-
inch card with their name/number and their date’s name/number. If the
two people both wrote “Y,” the cards were put into their envelope and
given to them at the end of the evening.
I observed all 18 pairs of people through each of their dates and took
notes about what was happening in their particular date. I then predicted
whether the pair would “match” or not. (As expected, the vast majority of
course did not match.) Some of what I learned is detailed later in the
book. Most interestingly, when I privately interviewed individuals at the
end of the evening, almost everyone said they had no need for the full six
minutes of date time. They knew in the first few seconds whether they
would be interested in dating the person again. There were two people
who said they would have liked more time than six minutes to decide with
at least one other person. Other than that, everyone knew almost immedi-
ately, just as predicted.
Your perceived level of attractiveness by other people will be a sig-
nificant benefit or detriment in your career, in your relationships, and
throughout all aspects of your life. It isn’t fair, but it is true. People who
are not especially attractive learn how to deal with less than perfect
physical features and work with what they have. Before we consider just
how to increase your face value, let’s look at the results of some fascinat-
ing studies about physical appearance. (I promise there won’t be any
boring footnotes or complex explanations, just the easy-to-understand
The Power of Physical Appearance
Did you know that in university settings, professors who are considered
physically attractive by students are considered to be better teachers on the
whole than unattractive professors? Attractive professors are also more
likely to be asked for help on problems.These same attractive professors
also tend to receive positive recommendations from other students to take
their classes and also are less likely to receive the blame when a student re-
ceives a failing grade! (Romano and Bordieri 1989)
A wide variety of research indicates that men’s marriage and dating
decisions are often made with great weight placed on physical attractive-
ness.They will often reject women who are lacking (in their opinion) in
positive physical features.Women,on the other hand,place less significance
on a man’s physical attractiveness in considering him for a date or mar-
riage, according to studies by R. E. Baber.
Did you know that in studies by J. E. Singer done on college cam-
puses, it has been proven that attractive females (attraction as perceived by
the professors) receive significantly higher grades than male students or
relatively unattractive females?
There is more evidence that shows you must make the most of what
you have physically.
Among strangers,studies by D.Byrne,O.London,and K.Reeves show
that individuals perceived as unattractive in physical appearance are gener-
ally undesirable for any interpersonal relationship.
In one significant study of 58 unacquainted men and women in a so-
cial setting Brislin and Lewis found that that after a first date 89 percent of
the people who sought a second date decided to do so because of attrac-
tiveness of the partner.
In the persuasion process, Mills and Aronson found that attractive fe-
males are far more convincing than females perceived as unattractive.
The Two Big Questions
Where does all this come from?
Can I be persuasive if I’m not what most people think is physically
The answer to the second question is “yes!”
The answer to the first question is a bit of a story. It all started when
you were a baby.The baby is born and in less than three days the baby will
imitate simple behaviors like smiling, frowning, and sticking her tongue
out.Within a few more days the baby gains a clear vision of her environ-
ment and she now is able to focus on people, easily distinguishing Mom
from other people.When Mom leaves the room and the baby is shown
picture after picture of stranger after stranger, the baby looks at those pho-
tographs of people who are physically attractive for a much longer time
than those people in the photographs who aren’t physically attractive.The
desire to look at beautiful people (and symmetrical objects, by the way) is
prewired into the little baby’s brain.
There are more distinctions in the infant’s observational patterns.The
infant prefers looking at faces that are smiling to those with a scowl or
frown.This response is also prewired into the infant.
Even more startling, though, is the behavior of the mother with the
baby. Mothers of babies who are perceived as attractive are more likely to
gaze at their babies and allow no distractions from the world around them.
Babies who are perceived (independently) as unattractive are more likely
to be cared for in the sense of having their diapers changed, being burped,
and being fed, with secondary attention paid to the babies’ faces.
The mother, of course, is unaware of her behavior contrasted with
other mothers.Her behavior to gaze at beauty was prewired in her at birth
as well.The experience of the enjoyment of beauty begins in the gene and
is further shaped in infancy.
It appears one reason that most children are perceived as beautiful by
their parents is that the perception acts as a survival mechanism for the
baby.What else would stop us from acting out when the little one is prone
to endlessly whine? (There is more stopping us than the irresistibility of
the infant, but it is a very good thing the baby is irresistible!)
Throughout nature the beautiful and colorful animals of a species fare
better in mating, survival, and acquisition of resources.This includes hu-
mans. One recent study revealed that most of the wealth acquired by
women in the world today is acquired by the most attractive women.
Some of this wealth is acquired through inheritance, some through mar-
riage, and some through the women’s work.
The survival instinct is strong in women and the genes that shape a
woman’s beauty and her response to beauty encourage her to optimize her
appearance.This has been true for millions of years.Today, Madison Av-
enue exploits this survival instinct, and women drive the cosmetics and
“look good”industry to being one of the most important industries in the
world.The cosmetics industry employs more people than most industries
in the world. In Brazil, there are more Avon representatives than military
personnel. The business of looking good continues into the twenty-first
century some two million years after it began . . .and it’s still going strong.
Madison Avenue didn’t create beauty, though, nor does Madison Av-
enue set the standard of beauty. Far from it. There are more than two
dozen countries in the world that place a higher value on physical attrac-
tiveness than do Americans.Typically these cultures do so because attrac-
tiveness is often a clue as to the healthiness of a spouse. Countries that are
disease-ridden,especially parasitic disease,are homes to individuals aspiring
to mate with physically attractive people.
Volumes of research reveal that girls and women who are perceived as
attractive get better grades on tests, earn more money on the job, and
marry husbands with more resources (money and education, generally)
than other women. Something seems politically incorrect about all of this
but the facts speak loudly.The physical attractiveness factor is important in
relationships, culture, and the survival of the species—of all species.
Among men in military academies, those who are physically attractive
tend to go on to better careers than those who are average or perceived as
unattractive.There is also a preference for attractive men by women upon
initial contact, but this preference isn’t as great as other traits considered
desirable by women.
It is interesting to note that attractive people tend to be more at ease
and confident in social settings than others are.This is probably because of
all the positive traits unconsciously ascribed to these individuals by every-
one else in the environment. If people constantly approach someone with
the same positive, smiling outlook toward that person (the physically at-
tractive individual) the person is likely to develop the typical verbal and
nonverbal responses to that behavior.This means that an almost self-ful-
filling prophecy happens in attractive people . . . and they don’t even
know it.
Standardized tests show that attractive girls and women score no better
or worse than unattractive ones. Only when grading is subjective does at-
tractiveness play a role.
A problem ultimately arises in this world that is run by personal ap-
pearance. Attractive women often find themselves strongly disliking and
avoiding the company of other attractive women. It appears that this is a
survival instinct. No one wants to lose access to his or her resources. Stay-
ing away from other attractive women means there is less competition
when being observed by a potential mate.We all try to control our envi-
ronment that we live and work in.The means and objectives are often very
different between men and women.
Attractiveness is important to men and women in social settings but
it is definitely more important to men in almost all countries of the
world except Sweden and Poland, where physical attractiveness require-
ments are similar between men and women.With these two countries
being the exceptions, men place a higher value on attractiveness than
women do, and this fact directly changes both nonverbal and spoken
communication encounters.
Once you understand the gravity of your appearance and that it
changes the minds, desires, and thoughts of everyone you interact with,
you discover you have an opportunity to improve all future relationships
and communication opportunities.
It’s very important to look as good as you can.This might mean using
makeup or not but it probably more often means keeping your weight
down.A small waist has shown to be a big factor in how people evaluate
other people. Obesity is a leading cause of diabetes and other illnesses in-
cluding cancer.We’ve all been wired to have a compulsion to invest our
lives with healthy people, especially those we are going to mate with.
Now, how do we apply all of this startling information to the compli-
ance-gaining situation?
Have you ever heard of love at first sight? Two sales were made be-
fore two people ever spoke. Both people decided that they wanted what
they saw, heard, smelled, and felt inside. Sales are made and broken every
day in the same manner. In this module you will learn how to help your
client fall in love with you and your products and services, before you
even say a word.
Nonverbal communication is almost always unconscious communica-
tion. Most people have no idea what is going on at the sublanguage level
of communication. This book will help you master this most critical
process of persuasion.
Many self-proclaimed experts of influence and body language have
misquoted a brilliant study by Albert Mehrabian. The wannabe experts
state that 93 percent of all communication is nonverbal.That wasn’t what
Mehrabian concluded at all. However, most of the finest researchers do
agree that nonverbal communication and physical appearance make up
between 50 and 80 percent of the impact of a communication.The same
is true for the persuasion climate.
Al Gore Teaches a Lesson about Influential Space
Every four years the two (or three) presidential candidates square off in
three debates so Americans can get a clear view of the issues that face
the nation.Americans get to see the candidates in an up close and per-
sonal way. I’ve watched for years. Last year, the BBC asked me to ana-
lyze the body language of then Vice President Al Gore and Governor of
Texas George W. Bush. Specifically they wanted to know what the can-
didates’ bodies were saying; then, as part of a suspenseful ploy, they asked
me to predict the election, but we would wait until after the third de-
bate to do so.
The nonverbal communication of the debate revealed a somewhat un-
comfortable George Bush. He was usually ill at ease and appeared to be
guarded in his responses.Al Gore appeared overly confident, arrogant, and
even a bit cocky. He was completely comfortable, looked at ease, and
seemed to feel in total control of the first debate. Gore was so overwhelm-
ing that afterward his handlers coached him to be kinder and gentler in
the second debate.After getting beaten in the second debate Gore took off
the gloves and came out forcefully in the final debate, which was a stand-
up debate in a town meeting type of forum.
At the beginning of the first debate, Gore walked toward Bush and
into his personal space as Bush was speaking.This threw Bush completely
off and Gore appeared to be a lion ready to eat his prey. Unfortunately for
Gore, his behavior came off as being rude, arrogant, and too aggressive for
someone who was going to be the president of the entire United States
and not just those who watch the World Wrestling Federation.
I told the BBC that this ploy on the part of Al Gore would backfire.
Americans don’t like jerks, and the people on the fence would swing to
Bush and away from Gore just because of this one 10-second incident on
television. It was now apparent to me that George Bush would win the
election, though I told the BBC,“George Bush will win, but this election
is going to be very,very close.”I had no idea how prophetic that would be.
Had I been advising and coaching Al Gore,I never would have let him
approach George Bush in any way other than a friendly, warm manner.
People like friendliness and feel comfortable around people who are kind.
Almost all people feel threatened when their space is entered, especially
when the perpetrator is physically larger than they are.When you look at
the tape of the debate, Bush clearly feels threatened and we as viewers feel
queasy as we see Bush approached. Gore’s intention is uncertain, and be-
cause of this moment he lost thousands of votes.
What is the lesson?
Whether seated or standing,you should stay out of your client’s intimate space.
This space is normally defined as an 18-inch bubble around the entire
body of your client. Entering this space is done at your own risk. This
doesn’t mean that you can’t share a secret with your client.This doesn’t
mean you can’t touch your client. It does mean that if you enter into a
client’s intimate space you are doing so strategically and with a specific in-
tention. There can be great rewards when entering intimate space but
there are also great risks, so be thoughtful about your client’s space.
Similarly, if you leave the “casual-personal” space of a client, which is
19 inches to four feet, you also stand at risk of losing the focus of atten-
tion of the client. Ideally, most of your communication with a new client
should be at a distance of two to four feet, measuring nose to nose.This
is appropriate, and generally you begin communication at the four-foot
perimeter of space and slowly move closer as you build rapport with
your client.
There’s more to it than just how far you are standing or seated from
someone. The actual space you occupy while in the persuasion process
makes a great deal of difference as to the result of the process.Imagine that
you are making a sale at a kitchen table.Would it matter if it were in your
client’s kitchen or yours? Imagine that you were closing a deal in a restau-
rant and then contrast that with closing the same deal in a nightclub. Dif-
ferent? Of course it is.
Now imagine that you are in an office setting and that your client is
sitting directly across from you. Next, imagine that your client is sitting to
the right of you. Imagine you are standing in a retail store next to your
client. Now, imagine that you are seated and your client is seated. How are
each of these different to you? Each of these images creates very different
feelings and probabilities of influencing your client.
Remember: Only the exceptional person is a 10.Almost everyone can
dress like a 10, walk like a 10, and elect to look as good as they can for
every dinner, meeting, and get-together. Physical features and how you
utilize those physical features matter. You can’t change what your face
looks like, but you can change your frown into a smile and increase your
face value.Your waistline is under your control and it matters.Your hair (if
you have hair!) is under your control, and hair is very important in
whether people filter you in or out.The first few seconds make all the dif-
ference in the world! They matter so much that you can’t afford to ever
neglect them again.Remember people will judge you in the first four sec-
onds.The rest of this book will show you what to do next,whether people
initially think “yes” or “no.”
Thirteen Secrets of Making a Magnetic
First Impression That Will Last a Lifetime
Whether it is your first meeting with a person or a current meeting with
someone you already are familiar with, the first few minutes are more
than critical to the outcome, they essentially are the outcome. Harvard
tells us that the first 30 seconds of a meeting are critical. I agree, with the
added note that the first four seconds of any influential encounter are the
most important.
With this in mind you can make some significant preparatory ef-
forts so your message is received with the greatest likelihood to draw a
“yes!” response.
1. Dress about 10 percent better than you expect your client/cus-
tomer to be dressed. Do not overdress or underdress. Both of
these choices are considered disrespectful by clients.
2. People feel most comfortable when others seem to be like
them in appearance, beliefs, or values. Predict the values and
beliefs of your clients and customers and emulate or at least be
aware of these factors so that you are prepared to make your
best first impression.
3. You should be immaculate when you meet your client/customer.
This means you should smell clean (not heavily cologned, as
many men and women use far too much of the smelly stuff),have
your hair trim and neat,and physically appear as good as you pos-
sibly can.
4. Find out what values are most important to a person in doing
business with you and determine those values that are relevant to
your product/service.“What is most important to you in possibly
doing business with me?”
5. Ask your client how he knows when he has his values met. If he
tells you fast service is his highest value, ask him,“How do you
determine what fast service is?”
6. Ask your client: If you give him his highest value (fast service in
this instance), will he work with you? If not, then what really is
his highest value? (He’s holding back and you have not yet devel-
oped a trusting rapport.)
7. Be certain that you know what your client needs your product/
service to do. Needs and values are often different from each
other, and we aren’t interested in what your service could do for
your customer but what it must do for your customer to be loyal
to you. “If you had to pick one thing that our service/product
must do for you, what would it be?”
8. Be certain to note the client’s speaking and listening pace (they
are generally identical) and match them as closely as possible. Do
not speak so fast that your client fails to process what you are say-
ing (if your client speaks slowly), and do not speak slowly if your
client processes rapidly (clue: your client speaks rapidly) as you
will bore him.
9. If you are nervous about your meeting for whatever reason, then
your client probably is as well.Take advantage of the brain’s orga-
nization and keep your client to your right if possible when shak-
ing hands, sitting, and communicating.This accesses more of the
left brain for both you and your client and allows you both to re-
lax and perform more analytically.
10. When meeting with women (regardless of whether you are male
or female) you should try to keep your eye level below that of
your counterpart. Research reveals that almost all women are
more comfortable and less intimidated when their eye level is
higher than those around them.
11. When clients are particularly emotional do not exceed their level
of emotion as you model their behavior. Do allow yourself to be
somewhat upset/concerned by the cause of their anger.“The city
is making you pay an extra $20,000 for your license this year?
What is that about?!”
12. Be familiar with the terminology of the business/profession of
your clients. Research reveals that using the exact same buzz-
words and corporate lingo your customer does identifies you as
an insider and makes your client more likely to say “yes” to you.
13. Show sincere interest and fascination with your client/customer,
their interests, pursuits, and business. Nothing is as important in
building rapport as an honest and caring interest in the person
you are trying to influence.

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