When you meet new people, do you tend to assume that they will like you or worry that they will reject you? Either way, you may be involved in a self-fulfilling prophecy.
If you anticipate acceptance or rejection, you are likely to get what you expected. People who expect a favourable reception are more likely to behave warmly to the people they meet. This warmth influences the other person’s initial impressions of them. Conversely, if you expect to be judged negatively, you are likely to behave more coldly leading to negative initial impressions. Those initial impressions are then likely to influence future perceptions and judgements through the halo effect or the affect heuristic.
This has obvious implications for recruitment interviews and for networking. We often talk about the importance of good first impressions in these settings.
Some recent research by Danu Stinson and colleagues has looked at the effect of preparing people for meeting a stranger. When a group of men were told that a woman they were about to meet was worried about how she would be perceived by them, they became less anxious and behaved more warmly than a control group. To find out more read this post on PsyBlog.
I think I’ll keep telling stories about how nervous I was as an interviewer when I’m doing interview skills workshops.
Another study about speed-dating has shown that when women mimic some of the verbal expressions and non-verbal behaviours of men, they are more likely to be rated as attractive (see this post on the BPS Research Digest blog). This seems to add some weight to the NLP concept of mirroring to establish rapport.
- How else could we increase levels of social optimism in our clients?
- How much do we advise clients on the nitty-gritty of building work relationships?
- Does mirroring really work? Do you use it to establish rapport with clients?
- Will this only work when you’re trying to impress a member of the opposite sex?
Related post: Constructing successful careers