We have all been to social events and business networking events where we have met someone for the first time and either instantly when the first word is spoken or after 30 seconds we have a “feel” if we either like them and wish to continue an entertain the idea of doing business or we don’t like, trust them and can’t find an exit quick enough! We sometimes call it gut feel but more often than not our first impressions are spot on. Why is this so? Well, the answer lies with millions of years of evolution of man.
Many times, it’s us who are trying to make a good first impression whether it be a prospective client, a job interview or a potential date so it’s important to understand how and why it all works and how we are affected.
We have 3 Brains.
I had many teachers in my youth ask me if I possessed a brain. Well had I known then what I know, I could have proudly said “well I actually have 3!” to which I’m sure would have got me punishment of sort for being insolent. As we know that’s not right, we do have 1 brain however there are 3 specific areas which due to adaptations as a result of evolution have all very different functions.
Reptilian or Limbic brain
All messages come to the Reptilian brain to be processed before they proceed to other areas. The Reptilian part is very basic and very primal. It’s only assessing 2 things, is it an opportunity or a threat, can I eat it or can it eat me. There are 2 types of threats:
Physical Any form of physical harm or a life threatening situation by someone or something.
Energetic How much energy do I need to process the information? The brain by nature is a cognitive miser and as such will expend as little energy as possible. So if your business introduction is as boring as watching paint dry, the other persons brain does not want to expend the necessary energy to process what you have to say and it’s pretty much game over.
Opportunities nowadays are can I do business with his person, is she a prospective partner or I like the other person and could see my self-spending more time with them socially and so on.
This part looks at social order and hierarchy. Who is this person? Do they know what they are talking about and does this person represent socially with strength? In other words, is your body language strong? Good eye contact, quality handshake, shoulders back or you’re bent over looking sideways? It matters!
This part is responsible for critical thinking, i.e. problem solving and analysis to determine what this person is saying. Put simply, to think and process.
Given this order cannot be manipulated, you need to make sure your message is clear and concise to ensure your message gets to move on to the next processing stage. The key factor if the message passes through is how easy it is to process. Is it new, is it exciting, is it a benefit or is it a threat? Given the evolutionary adaptations, people are looking to pursue opportunities and run away from threats. As mentioned, we have about 30 seconds to make an impression. If you’re attending networking events, your “elevator pitch” should be clear and direct to ensure the listener’s attention is captured. Use your own bad experiences to convince yourself of how this all works. If it’s social interaction, have an interesting little intro ready and engage the other person with questions about themselves….people LOVE to talk about themselves.
Remember, the quality of your communication will determine the level of your success.
As always we welcome your comments and feedback.
Good luck at your next function and until next week, bye for now.