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How to Make a Killer First Impression

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first impression

Two seconds are what people need to form an opinion about you. A group of Harvard researchers wanted to see if there was a link between a person`s teaching skills and their non-verbal cues, so they asked strangers to watch a muted 10-second video of some Harvard professors and asked them to rate each teacher on different scales including warmth, optimism, and professionalism.

The researchers then compared these ratings to the evaluations given by the Harvard students of their professors and surprisingly, they were similar. The professors who used non-verbal cues of confidence and likeability, were perceived to have better teaching skills than their peers. After shortening the videos and presenting them to the same group of participants, the research team concluded that it takes only two seconds for people to make a good or bad impression about each other.

Now, the question is: How can you make a good impression in two seconds or less? According to bestselling author, Vanessa Van Edwards, we usually ask three fundamental questions about a new person during the first few moments of an interaction:

  • Are you friend or foe?
  • Are you a winner or loser?
  • Are you an ally or an enemy?

Your job is to use your body and facial language to give the right answers to all three questions.  Here`s how:

Make people see your hands

After studying hundreds of TED Talks, Van Edwards and her team found a link between the talker`s hand gestures and the number of views the talk received on the internet. Less-popular talkers used an average of 272 hand gestures whereas the likes of Simon Sinek, and Jane McGonigal used more than 600 gestures in just eighteen minutes to hook their viewers. So what to do? Don`t keep your hands in your pocket. Instead, use them to make your points stand clear. It will give you credibility and get people to lower their guard.

“Confidence comes from discipline and training.” – Robert Kiyosaki

Trigger Oxytocin

Oxytocin is the hormone your brain releases when you`re comfortable around someone. If you can spike it in other people, they will trust you. One of the things that trigger Oxytocin is skin-to-skin touch with someone which is something you make happen when you give the other person a handshake. Your skins touch and Oxytocin flows everywhere.

For that, experts suggest that you should never replace the handshake with a high five, a wave or a fist bump.  You should also make sure your hands are dry and squeeze the other person`s hands as though you`re pressing a peach to see if it was ripe. Firm enough to give an impression of confidence, but not so firm to hurt their hands.  

Radiate Confidence

150 years ago, William James, Father of American Psychology, created the Act-as-if principle stating that if you adopt the attitudes and mindset of successful/confident people, you will eventually behave and be like them. This is precisely how you should carry yourself everywhere you go, especially around new people.

According to one study by Carnegie Mellon University, self-confidence affects your first impression more than good manners and professional reputation. Luckily, you can reach this result by controlling your body language and state.

Jordan Belfort, the real Wolf of Wall Street, said in one interview that he never gets on the phone with a prospect without first taking the power pose to make sure his words and tonality carry conviction and confidence. Similarly, many companies ask their representatives to smile on the phone so that prospects believe they are friendly.

You too can have similar effects by doing two things:

1. Borrow the mindset of confident people – Write down the top five mindsets that confident people use, which also resonate with your values and repeat them over and over in your head through the power of affirmation. Soon, your mind will adapt.

2. Use the right body language – In order to give the impression that you`re confident, not arrogant, experts suggest you do the following:

  • Keep your shoulders down and back.
  • Aim your chin, chest, and forehead straight in front of you or slightly up.
  • Keep space between your arms and torso.
  • Make sure your hands are visible.

“Experience tells you what to do; confidence allows you to do it.” – Stan Smith

Know What makes you feel inferior

Understanding why you don`t feel good enough is probably the most critical part of this list. Child trauma and past negative experiences usually make people either too nice or narcissistic. Public embarrassments, dreadful rejections, abusive parents and bullying friends, all can make you either so cold or a pushover.

You need to take the time to analyze what makes you inferior to people then fix yourself with mindfulness and actions until you`re free. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What situations scare me?
  • Do I feel the need to impress a specific type of person? Who are they?
  • When do I feel nervous and inferior the most? What do I do to overcompensate?

Once you know what brings out the worst in you, create some strategies to deal with your fears and use them over and over to break free.

What are some things you do to make a killer first impression? Comment below!

Success Advice

How to Lead in a Time of Crisis

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If you’d like to learn how to be an effective leader so you can influence people, sign up for the free 90-Day Master Class hosted by the founder of Addicted2Success.com, Joel Brown.


We have an abundance of information on leadership. We can learn how to inspire, manage, and develop a team; how to change an entire workplace DNA from the top down; how to deal with confrontation. But when it comes to crises, we’re often left in the middle of a winding road without direction. How do we lead in uncharted territories? (more…)

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Success Advice

The Four Ps That Influence Effective Negotiation

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If you’d like to learn how to effectively negotiate so you can come out on top in life, sign up for the free 90-Day Master Class hosted by the founder of Addicted2Success.com, Joel Brown.


Business negotiations often feel like a seesaw of wins and losses. One day, you feel competent and on top of the world, and the next, you feel like you’ve missed something crucial. That cycle can feel brutal, especially because not a day goes by without negotiation. Every goal you set, every conversation you have—they are all forms of negotiating, and without them, the work wouldn’t get done. (more…)

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8 Traits of an Effective Business Leader

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If you’d like to learn how to be an effective leader so you can influence and inspire others, sign up for the free 90-Day Master Class hosted by the founder of Addicted2Success.com, Joel Brown.


If you’re leading a business, there’s no question about whether you’re a leader or not. You are a leader. The only question is what kind of leader are you? Some people think that inspirational leaders just happen—they’re a product of personality, circumstance, and talent. While some may take to leadership more easily than others, anyone can develop themselves into an inspirational leader through intentional and thoughtful work on themselves. (more…)

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Success Advice

Why Body and Mind Harmony Are So Necessary for a Successful Life

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If you’d like to learn how to have a good balance of mental and physical health so you can live a successful and prosperous life, sign up for the free 90-Day Master Class hosted by the founder of Addicted2Success.com, Joel Brown.


In the times when so many people are experiencing extreme amounts of strength and have to constantly put up with a lot of pressure, looking after mental health has never been so essential. Here is how body and mind harmony are the most important professional traits. (more…)

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