Serenity Matagorda Isle

First Impressions

First Impressions

First impressions are everything!  Granted, opportunities may present themselves to get to know another person after your second or third meeting, but the momentum of a great first impression can be a game changer when it comes to personal and business relationships.

I came across an article in Forbes Magazine that best illustrates the importance of emotional intelligence when it comes to presenting yourself.  In his Forbes article “Ten Guaranteed Ways To Appear Smarter Than You Are”, Travis Bradberry points to the fact that how smart people think you are is just as important as how smart you are.  He says, “Intelligence only explains about 20% of how you do in life; much of the other 80% comes down to emotional intelligence (EQ), a skill that’s so important that 90% of top performers in the workplace have high EQ, as measured by emotional intelligence tests.

This is where self-awareness comes into play, how well you know yourself and how others perceive you.  Here are the ten ways to look smarter:

Skip that drink– According to a joint study conducted by the University of Michigan and the University of Pennsylvania the perceived correlation between drinking and cognitive impairment is so strong that we assume impairment even if there isn’t any.  To prove their point, job candidates frequently think that ordering a glass of wine over a dinner interview will make them appear intelligent and worldly; it makes them come across as less intelligent and less hirable.

Use a middle initial.   John F. Kennedy, Franklin D. Roosevelt are examples of people who hold a prominent place in history that used a middle initial.  It may seem silly, but in a study on academic competitions, people who used middle initials were selected more frequently than those who didn’t.

Make Graphs.  Cornel University suggests people are more likely to trust a source when a graph is included.   A document on the effectiveness of a new cold medication was presented to one group that included a graph and to another group with just the written document.  Even though the information was the same, 96% of the participants reading the report with the graph believed the claims, while only 67% of those reading the graph thought the same.

Believe in Yourself.  Confidence in yourself is key.  Research shows it improves your performance on cognitive tasks.  Self-doubt can impair your performance.

Write simply.  Communicating effectively doesn’t require an impressive vocabulary.  Bradberry notes, “Using a big word incorrectly makes you look, well, not so smart.”

Speak expressively.  Communication expert Leonard Modinow explains, “If two speakers utter the same words, but one speaks a little faster and louder and with fewer pauses along with a greater variation in volume, that speaker will be judged to be more energetic, knowledgeable, and intelligent.” Monotone speakers beware!

Look’em in the eye.  In a Loyola University study, participants who intentionally managed their eye contact scored significantly higher on perceived intelligence.

Wear nerd glasses.  Literally, leave your contacts home on the day of a presentation.  Research shows that people wearing glasses—especially thick, full framed ones—are perceived as being more intelligent.

Keep pace with the crowd.  Boston University research shows that it’s true and refers to it as “timescale bias” which is the tendency to attribute greater intelligence to people who do things at the same speed as others.  Time to avoid dawdling or, as Bradberry puts it, “running around like some crazed robot.”

Dress for success.  This is a no-brainer.  Extensive research shows dressing well makes you seem more intelligent.  It doesn’t stop there.  Studies show that how you dress can affect your performance.  Northwestern University found that making people wear lab coats improved their performance in tasks that required intelligence and concentration.

Whether you utilize any or all the ten suggestions, it won’t affect your intelligent quotient (IQ), but it can assist you in altering the way people perceive you.  In the real world, perception is half the battle.

Originally published in the Bay City on Sunday, April 2, 201








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