The first few seconds
In the book 'The Science of Influence - How To Get Anyone To Say Yes In 8 Minutes Or Less' by Kevin Hogan, he teaches the skills and information needed to influence a situation and close the deal, whether it be getting a yes in a business or personal scenario.
In this article, you will learn some of those key principles that can easily be applied to any occasion where you need to harness the power of persuasion by making a positive impact in the first four seconds thereby setting the stage for the yes to come.
The way you present yourself, both through body language and physical appearance, can strongly influence how others perceive you. It takes only a few seconds for someone to form an impression of you, and the assessment they make will likely be the same for the duration of your relationship. Research shows that you have less than 10 seconds, and more realistically about four seconds, to make a positive impact on those you come into contact with. You should be aware of this and use it to your advantage. Make sure that the impression you give is something you have consciously and deliberately chosen.
The moment you come across someone, a massive number of neurons start working in the brain. Your brain becomes alert instantly. It quickly attempts to identify the person and put them into a certain group. It processes numerous questions like, what is different/similar about this person? Are they attractive? All this occurs without any deliberation or knowledge. Our unconscious mind quickly makes judgments and assessments and in less than four seconds it rates the person as either a favourable or a unfavourable.
Overcoming these initial and instant impressions takes an enormous amount of work.
How other people view your appeal can either be hugely advantageous or disadvantageous. Therefore it is very important to look as good as you can. Your physical appearance, including clothing, make-up, accessories, socks, footwear, eyewear etc can have a major influence on whether you make a sale or establish a successful connection before you even speak.
It's important to keep in mind that only a select few can truly be ranked as a 10. However, almost anyone can appear to be a 10 by dressing nicely, walking confidently, and making the effort to look their best for any occasion. Your physical features are significant and although you can't alter them, you can still adjust your facial expression from a frown to a smile, which will increase your perceived value.
10 Ways to make an impressive first impression in business
1 Dress a notch higher than you expect the other party to but be careful not to go too far. More than 10% better can be as detrimental as underdressing and may be construed as disrespectful. Be groomed immaculately, neat and clean.
2. People tend to be more relaxed when those around them have similar beliefs, values, and perspectives. Anticipate these of the other party and either imitate or be conscious of them. Uncover the principles that they regard as essential when engaging in business and recognise the values that are related to your product/service. "What is most important to you in possibly doing business with me?” Ask how they determine when their requirements have been met. For example, if their answer is that quick service is their number one priority, ask them "How do you decide what counts as fast service?". Further, if you are able to provide them with their most important value (in this case, fast service), will they work with you? If not, what is the real highest value they seek? (It's possible that they are being reserved and you still have not created a trusting bond).
3. Pay attention to how quickly the other party speaks and listens. Make sure to keep up with their pace and don't go too fast or too slow. If they speak slowly, make sure you don't rush through your conversation, and if they process things quickly, don't drag your conversation on as it will likely bore them.
4. If either you or the other person feels nervous about your meeting, use the workings of the brain to your advantage. By positioning your client to your right when shaking hands, sitting, or conversing, you can both access the left side of the brain more easily and thus be calmer and more logical.
5. When interacting with women (although both genders should apply this), it is recommended to maintain eye contact at a lower level than that of the other person. Studies have demonstrated that most females feel more confident and secure when they are at a higher level of eye contact compared to others around them.
6. When customers are particularly heightened, do not exceed their level of emotion by mirroring their behaviour but you can show that you are affected by the reasons for it. For example, if they mention that the city is charging them an additional $20,000 for their license this year, it is acceptable to express surprise or outrage.
7. Understand the language and industry-specific vernacular of the other person. Studies have indicated that by using the same jargon and technical terms you demonstrate that you are familiar with the market and they are more likely to agree with you.
8. Express genuine curiosity and enthusiasm for the other person, the things they care about, their pursuits, and their profession. Nothing is as significant in creating a connection as a genuine interest in the individual you are attempting to have an influence on.
9. Be mindful of the 18-inch bubble around your client when both seated and standing. Going into this space should be done with a purpose and caution as it can have positive outcomes but also carries risks. Although this does not mean that you cannot be close to your client, it does mean that you should be strategic and intentional when entering into the intimate space and err on the side of caution in those first few seconds by respecting the space.
10. When you leave the intimate distance of a 19-inch to four-foot range with a person, you can lose their interest. To maintain interest and build a connection, it is best to start communication from a two-to-four-foot range. As trust is built, you can gradually move closer.
So remember these simple tips to impress in the first four to 10 seconds of a meeting but don't leave it there. Check out our other articles on creating rapport and other techniques to get a yes in less than eight minutes.