You are so good looking

When you flatter someone they’re more likely to look on you favorably, even if your flattery is pretty transparent and shameless.

The truth is that most of us think we’re above average even though that’s, of course, statistically impossible. It is actually called…the above-average effect – duh. Scientific American reported that researchers in Hong Kong recently asked people to rate the appeal of a hypothetical department store after the store’s advertising praised the readers fashion tastes. Even after the researchers admitted the experiment readers rated the store more positively than others and said they’d shop there.

When people say we look good we tend to believe it – because we want to believe it.

Upcoming Coaching and Training

We’re offering the new two-day Emotion, Outrage and Public Involvement class in Calgary March 25-26, Washington D.C. April 8-9 and Vancouver April 22-23. This course is idea for understanding and learning to manage public melodrama.

The IAP2 Certificate in Public Participation course is scheduled for the week of April 5 in Kansas City and the week of May 3 in D.C. Contact me about customizing and bringing either of these classes to your in-house group.

Tiger and Toyota

According to the day-after polls, Tiger’s stiff, canned, and not-terribly-sincere looking/sounding apology seems to have done some good for his credibility, after all of these months of silence. I’ve always believed that Tiger’s main fan base (higher income guys who like golf) will tend to forgive him pretty quickly anyway, and if they don’t, I doubt that it’s going to wreck his career. I watched his apology and came away feeling that he was sorry more for the embarrassment of getting caught than for his infidelity. If he is sincere, he’s obviously not getting great advice or coaching. Too bad, he can afford it. I suspect that his ego and his lawyers are running the show, much like Toyota.

Body Language

Whether you like it or not, research has found that people decide how they feel about you in as little as two seconds of seeing you, or hearing you, if it’s on the phone. If they like what they see or hear, they’ll unconsciously tend to look for the best in you and look for opportunities to say “yes.” If they don’t like you, the opposite is true.

The first thing someone notices about you is the quality and level of energy you give out. That means your attitude – including your posture. The second thing they respond to is your clothes. It happens so quickly it’s as if they see both things at the same time, and then form their first impressions about you. Your attitude tells people if you’re approachable, charming or a dud. Your posture is an indicator of your overall health and confidence, and clothing speaks volumes. It tells others what kind of person you see yourself as, your socioeconomic status, whether you’re conventional or flamboyant.

Here are four ways to help create a great first impression:

1. Adjust your attitude. More than anything else it’s your attitude that determines how people feel about you when you first meet. Try to be more upbeat, welcoming, and somewhat enthusiastic.

2. Charm can be learned. There’s an old joke about the difference between introverted and extroverted engineers (or academics, or scientists — substitute any other introverted group that you want to make fun of) – the extroverted ones stare at your shoes instead of their own when they meet you. So work to make eye contact with other people, if only for a couple of seconds – this unconsciously signals that trust is in the air. Just notice the person’s eye color – that may be enough.

3. Smile genuinely – a little. A smile sends a signal that you’re happy, confident, and open. If you’re dealing with a difficult situation and an emotionally charged situation, that smile may need to be somewhat more refined and subtle. Grinning at someone who’s scared or angry doesn’t work in your favor.

4. Practice open and relaxed body language. Instead of crossing your arms over your chest point your chest/heart toward theirs and keep your hands generally visible and in the front of you. It sends a non-threatening message.

When working a meeting, particularly with people you don’t know:

Dress to match the audience. People tend to be more comfortable with others like them.

Don’t hide by the door or the wall. People around the edges are called wallflowers for a reason.

Ask “Talk-Show Host” questions. The best way to start conversations is with statements followed by open-ended questions, not questions that can be answered by a yes or a no. “Twenty years ago there were only 15,000 people living here. How do you think we should handle traffic for the next twenty years?” And make sure you give some feedback to their answers.

If it’s Easy it Must be True

We tend to believe and agree with the things that are easy for us to understand, and conversely we tend to disagree with things that we find too complex and difficult. That may sound pretty obvious and intuitive but there’s new research that supports how important this issue is when it comes to communicating complex and technically challenging information.

Psychologists are only beginning to uncover the surprising extent to which fluency guides our thinking, and in situations where we have no idea it is at work.

Check out this story in the Boston Globe:

Giving in to Public Protest

The world’s biggest retail chain gets routinely derailed by a handful of local activists. You may not have known that it’s actually part of Walmart’s management strategy. Read on:

Posted in General