In part 3 of my daterViewing series I wanted to broach the topic of visual preparedness, mentioned in the intro to daterViewing post. Many of us can intellectually prepare for an interview or date till the cows come home but forget about the importance of visual/non-verbal communication. The below post was written for the website HyperVocal.com and has been edited for YourGoodIdeaFairy.com. It’s a long one after taking a few weeks breather while trekking through awesome times at the Sundance Film Festival and then to NYC’s SMASH premiere among other cool adventures.
It’s human behavior for people to make assumptions about new people we meet based on non-verbal cues, whether we know it or not. We do this by sending and receiving wordless (mostly visual) messages between people, all without breathing a word.
How? From our posture, clothing, gestures, eye contact, use of space, etc. A popular study conducted by UCLA professor, Albert Mehrabian indicates that up to 93% of communication effectiveness is determined by our own nonverbal cues (and the tone in which words are being used but not the words themselves).
Yes, words do matter — a lot, but based on past experiences with folks we have interacted with, our brains have trained us, both because of and in spite of, to judge new people on what we can assume about them in the first few minutes of meeting. We are most aware of this when meeting someone for the first time, where the pressures on, — like at a job interview or a date, where there’s lots of assessing going on.
Being a very visual and tactile person myself (I’m a big fan of observing, scratching and sniffing), I can’t think of any more important way to gauge a first impression.
A resume or Match.com profile can be great on paper or online, but they don’t always measure up in person, and there’s a reason for that (all of the above/below). Tapping into our assessment (visual and tactile) skills is an essential step to making better decisions on whom we decided to open up to (and how we do it).
Most of us have been taught not to judge a book by its cover. But if we learn and are smart about how to absorb mini clues and cues from others based on experiences, we could benefit greatly. Often (but not always) if it looks and smells like smoke, maybe there’s fire. Learning signals starts with understanding nonverbal cues. From here we can begin to trust our own instincts and gut feelings, figure out who to open up to and surround ourselves with, as well as cut out a lot of potential drama!
The best way to learn is to recognize patterns when you see them, and then make a conscious effort to change those patterns. We are all guilty of allowing people with similar patterns into our life and do so for specific reasons, both those that benefit us and those that do not. Understanding and recognizing this is the first step. If you’re good at sniffing out folks who may create negative experiences in your life, well then, mazel tov: You just saved yourself from a lifetime of hardship.
It took me a while to learn, too. Just be open to the possibility of being wrong about a first impression every once in a while. Sometimes we can be pleasantly surprise, and you don’t want to close yourself off to that opportunity. For the most part, if we can fine-tune our skills it will only help us to make better decisions about who we surround ourselves with– ideally with those who complement our lives rather then bring it down and to position ourselves for healthier social and professional interactions in the future.
This is especially true in situations like a first date and a first job interview. While we have more freedom to choose our partners in life over our colleagues and bosses, just being aware can help us all make more productive choices, whether you’re doing most of the judging or being judged. Remember, getting yourself to the level you want to be at is not always about working harder, but working smarter!
Below are some maybe obvious but shockingly un-followed tips to live by when preparing for a first interview or first date. Important to land that second one…
|DO’S||DittoPut some sexiness out, but not all. Remember a little skin goes a long way, and you want to leave a little for the imagination.
Be positive and give off a positive attitude.
Show interest in eye contact, body language, appropriate use of space, gestures, etc.
|You are being judged from the moment you walk in the room so walk in with confidence and purpose.Dress for success. Conservatively, professionally and sharp.
Dress to impress, wear something that makes you feel good.
Find common interests. Show how any values/commonalities match up.
|DON’TS||Wear your clubbing clothes – rap videos are not real-life.||Ditto Obviously!|