Month: January 2022

First Impressions: Making Good Ones And Overcoming Bad Ones

first impressions

How good are you at first impressions? Here are important tips and advice to keep in mind the next time you’re meeting someone new.

When we meet someone for the first time, we often worry “Is this person going to like me or not?”

First impressions are a big deal for most people. We want to make a good impression during job interviews, first dates, or business meetings because we know that they can often paint the rest of our social interactions with that person.

While first impressions can be inaccurate or incomplete, research has shown that first impressions can give us a lot of information about a person and their personality. When participants did a quick “speed dating” event, researchers found that most people walked away having a decent idea of the other participants’ personality and well-being.

A lot of our initial perception is shaped by how people look, how they act and talk, and how they dress and present themselves overall. If a person walks into a job interview with disheveled hair, ripped clothes, and a nonchalant attitude, an employer is going to reasonably suspect that this person may be unqualified, lazy, or unreliable.

We can’t ignore the power of first impressions. While it can seem superficial to judge someone based on how they look or act within a couple minutes, these snapshot judgments are a simple fact of human psychology.

Fortunately, there are positive steps we can take to build the best first impression possible. Here are the key things to keep in mind.

Building a Good First Impression

  • Appearance – One of the first things people often notice about us is our physical appearance. While there are many aspects of our appearance that we can’t change, we can still try to present ourselves in the best way possible by living a healthy and fit life (including exercise, diet, and sleep), as well as dressing in nice and clean clothes (that doesn’t necessarily mean expensive or fancy). If you still worry about what people may think of you based on your appearance (such as things about your body you are insecure about) you can also find role models who share similar physical traits as you but don’t let it hurt their confidence or self-esteem. All it takes is one role model you can relate to for you to get that extra boost in self-image.
  • Hygiene – The next basic aspect of building a good first impression is to have good hygiene and cleanliness. This includes washing your body and face every day, brushing your teeth twice per day, washing your hands when you use the bathroom, and other periodic habits such as getting a haircut, trimming your nails, and shaving when necessary. Smells and pheromones can also be a subtle but powerful signal when it comes to first impressions, so it’s important to smell good and not emit a foul body odor, including using deodorant, cologne, perfume, or breath mints (to avoid bad breath). While these can seem like commonsense habits, they can make a big difference when we neglect them.
  • Manners – Another fundamental element to forming good impressions is to be polite and respectful. This includes common respectful habits such as shaking someone’s hand, saying “please” and “thank you,” holding the door open for people, making eye contact when you speak with them, not staring at your phone during conversation, and addressing them in an overall friendly and respectful tone. Of course these are simple and commonsense habits, but they can go a long way. Also keep in mind that sometimes being polite looks different depending on different cultures and traditions, so it’s something you may need to adjust depending on the situation.
  • Body Language – A big part of how we connect with others is through nonverbal communication, including our tone of voice, posture, and body language. A good first impression is often associated with an open and expansive body posture (such as no crossed arms or legs, and a straight and upright back, etc.), as well as positive eye contact, friendly tone of voice (not bored/monotone, judgmental, or sarcastic), and expressions of positive emotions through smiling, laughing, and facial expressions. While it’s important not to become too self-conscious of our body language during social interactions (which can often make them come off fake or inauthentic), it is something to be mindful of every now and then. You can practice improving your body language when you are alone to make it more natural and automatic during social interactions.
  • Positive Expectations – A lot of social psychology is a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you go into a social interaction expecting people to dislike you, you will end up acting in ways that make it more likely to become true (such as being more distant, reserved, or cold toward others). But if you go into a social interaction expecting people to like you and connect with you, you will be more friendly, warm, and likable overall. The good news is that most people are hard-wired to be pro-social: they want to like and be liked. In fact, some research suggests that people often like us more than we realize when we first meet them – psychologists call this the liking gap.
  • Conversation Threading – One of the biggest things people worry about is “How will I keep the conversation going?” or “How do I know what to say next?” We fear awkward silences or conversations that can’t seem to find a flow or rhythm to them. One effective tool to learn is conversation threading, which teaches you how to listen to what people say and identify topics to respond to in an easy, natural, and fluent way. Master conversationalists already use this technique even if they do it unconsciously or without realizing it. You can learn how to as well with a little practice and dedication until it becomes more natural for you.
  • Social Proof – As a social species, we often look toward others to find out what to do or how to feel about someone. So if a person is popular, we are more likely to see them as kind, intelligent, and friendly (sometimes known as the “halo effect” in psychology), and thus more likely to want to get to know them as well. The basic idea is, “If other people like them, I will probably like them too!” One way to build social proof is to go out to places with a couple friends or group of people. This subconsciously signals to others that you are a social and likable person. In fact, research suggests that we even look more physically attractive when people see us in a group, sometimes known as the “cheerleader effect” or “group attractiveness effect.” This isn’t meant to discourage you from going out alone every now and then (which can be a rewarding experience), but it is something to be aware of.
  • Avoid Nitpicking and Complaining – One of the easiest ways to turn people off is to be an excessive complainer or nitpicker. If the only things you have to talk about are negative, people are going to naturally associate you with those negative feelings – and that doesn’t feel good to be around. Try to steer the conversation in a generally positive direction. Set an internal complain meter in your mind and realize when you’ve reached your limit for the day.
  • Don’t Worry About Your Flaws – Everyone has certain aspects about themselves that they are insecure about. Often we let these perceived flaws hurt our social interactions by constantly worrying about them and trying to hide them from others. However, interesting research shows that people aren’t as judgmental about our flaws or mistakes as we often think they are. In fact, when people are vulnerable and willing to show imperfect sides of themselves, people often see them as more likable and human. So if you stutter, or mispronounce a word, or lose your train of thought, just let it go and move on. Most people won’t even notice it, or they will forget about it quickly, and those who do notice will often find it more endearing – because it proves you are human like everyone else (some psychologists refer to this as the beautiful mess effect).
  • Practice Mental Rehearsal – If you really want to take the time to improve your first impressions, consider using mental rehearsal to practice new ways of thinking, speaking, and acting during your social interactions. Take into account all the advice above, and imagine yourself in social situations being more friendly, likable, and outgoing. Often mental rehearsal can get our minds moving in a new direction, even when we don’t have any positive past experiences to build off of or learn from. You have to start somewhere, even if it’s just changing your mind and perspective. In fact, research suggests that imagining positive conversations can better prepare our minds to be more trusting, cooperative, and friendly overall.

At the end of the day, it’s important to be yourself – the advice and suggestions above are just a way to present yourself in the best way possible.

First impressions are sticky but they aren’t set in stone. If someone rubs us the wrong way when we first meet them, that can be a difficult perception to shake off, but it’s not impossible.

One fascinating study published in the journal Human Relations shows that initial perceptions of trustworthiness can have a long-lasting impact on subsequent social interactions, so much so that we overlook future trust violations.

However, even a bad first impression can be overcome if a person proves themselves to be more likable and trustworthy in the future.

In the same study, people that initially got off on the wrong foot but later showed trustworthiness in a later interaction were actually seen to be most trustworthy of all. Everyone loves a good redemption arc.

Making a good first impression is important, but creating a positive lasting impression is what really matters. You have to sometimes give yourself a little extra time and patience to prove yourself.

The same goes for your first impressions of other people.

Keep in mind that you’re only getting a quick snapshot of who someone really is in a short period of time, but it’s often best to give people the benefit of the doubt and allow them to show a more positive side of themselves the next time you see them.

Perhaps you just met them on a bad day – or they were socially anxious about meeting you and accidentally sabotaged themselves.

To overcome a bad first impression, you have to be willing to let bygones be bygones and start every social interaction on a clean slate.

We are all human, never underestimate your ability to connect with someone on a genuine level, even if it happens to take a little extra time or effort.

Stay updated on new articles and resources in psychology and self improvement:

The post First Impressions: Making Good Ones And Overcoming Bad Ones appeared first on The Emotion Machine.

Creating health habits: Getting active and staying active

Creating health habits: Getting active and staying active

If you asked yourself:Is regular exercise good for me?” Most of you would say – “Yes”.

If you then asked: “Do I exercise regularly?”  Most of you would say – “No”.

Why is it that so many of us appreciate that being active is good for us, but find the doing part so challenging?

Why is it so hard to exercise regularly?

85% of people do not meet physical activity recommendations. This statistic has barely changed in over a decade despite numerous campaigns from peak health bodies globally and locally, such the World Health Organisation and the Australian Government, emphasising the benefits of exercise, for both our physical and mental health. As a society, we know more about the benefits regular exercise has on our body and brain than ever before, yet despite all this ‘knowing’, we continue to see the same high rates of physical inactivity. One major reason for this is that knowledge alone is not enough to get us off the couch, and (for a myriad of reasons) most of us find it extremely difficult to exercise regularly.

The expert team at Monash University’s BrainPark (including exercise physiologists, psychologists and clinical neuroscientists) understand that making exercise a part of your lifestyle is a deeply personal process. It depends heavily on your unique circumstances and preferences. Based on insights into behavioural research, and years of practical experience helping people to get active for the benefit of their mental health, here are BrainPark’s top tips for getting active. These strategies go beyond the practical and physical to encourage mental reflections to help empower you in your physical activity journey.

 BrainPark’s Top Tips for Getting Active

Here are our top tips for making exercise a regular part of your day-to-day life:

1. Reflect on your WHY

Knowing your WHY is knowing your core purpose, your goals and ambitions. The relationship you have with physical activity can be far more meaningful than simply how often you are active. For example, exercising to be a role model for your family, to improve your mood and cope better with stress, to cultivate sharper thinking skills, or to live life with more physical and mental vitality. Before you determine what exercise to do, start by identifying your WHY. Reflect on it regularly, write it down or find an image that depicts it and put this on your fridge as a daily inspiration and reminder. Your WHY can then act as a reflective-touchstone that helps motivate you to overcome common barriers to exercise.

2. Reflect on your WHAT

When starting out on your journey to an active lifestyle, it’s critical to choose activities that are sustainable. The number one priority in selecting what exercise to do, is selecting something you can do regularly – and enjoy doing. This may mean a combination of activities. So, think about what exercise-ingredients have worked, or not worked, for you in the past. For example, you may not love exercise, but love socialising – so try pairing social time with exercise, like walking with a friend or starting a jogging challenge with your neighbour. Other examples could be that you have a busy job, so choose to exercise on your least busy days, such as on weekends; or you may find accessing a gym difficult, so choose regular walks or runs as they are super accessible and require no (or minimal) financial cost.

 3. Make small, easy changes

You are far more likely to start exercising regularly when what you do is easy to fit into your existing lifestyle, rather than changing too much too soon. Once started, you can then slowly grow and refine your activity over the long term. For example, gradually increasing your exercise frequency over a period of months is a far more sustainable and rewarding approach than going from 0 days per week to 7 days – then quitting because you were unable to sustain that frequency.

 4. Be patient

Play the long game.  Aim for consistency, not perfection. Exercising “imperfectly” for decades is FAR BETTER than exercising “perfectly” for a few weeks. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is cultivating a physically active lifestyle. The value to your health by exercising regularly is far greater than extreme exercise bouts infrequently. So, if the choice is between going for a 30-minute walk after dinner weeknights or doing a heavy gym session once a year – choose walking!

 5. Embrace adaptability

Too tired, too cold, too hot, not enough time? There will always be reasons not to exercise. When we have a pre-prepared plan in place to navigate these barriers, rather than try and change tack in the moment, we are far more likely to stay active. So, take a moment to create, and then reflect on, your ‘if- then’ plans’. Examples: If I’m tired, then I will go for a walk instead of a jog (i.e. exercise at a lower intensity, or reduced time). If it’s raining and my outdoor soccer match is cancelled, then I will do a yoga class instead (i.e. change your exercise environment to suit the weather). If I am time-poor, then I will pick a 15-minutes online training session, instead of a 30-minutes one (i.e. commit to a time that suits your availability, rather than cancelling all together).

6. See a professional

If you don’t know what the best exercise-strategy is for you, reach out to your local exercise professional. There may be some out-of-pocket fees at first, but initial professional guidance has the potential to turbo-charge your own self-management skills in the long term. You may be able to lower the financial cost even further via your private health insurance or through eligibility for Medicare rebated services.

Written by Sam Hughes. Sam is a Senior Exercise Physiologist at BrainPark, Turner Institute for Brain and Mental Health, Monash University.

Why You Need Willpower in Your Life?

Why You Need Willpower


What to do if you cannot make up your mind or cannot carry out decisions?

Do you find it difficult to make up your mind and arrive at a decision?

Once you decide about something, do you lack the drive and inner strength to push yourself to take action?

Why does this happen?

This might encounter this problem not just with big decisions, but also with small ones.

Here are a few examples:

  • You decide to get up early, but find it difficult to get out of bed on cold winter mornings.
  • You cannot make up your mind what dress or shirt to wear for work or for a special event.
  • You cannot make up your mind what to order at the restaurant.
  • You feel too lazy to drag yourself to the gym.
  • You need to write a certain email, but keep evading the task
  • Instead of focusing on carrying out an unpleasant task that you have to do and get through with it, you do other, unimportant things.

In all these instances, there is a lack of willpower.

Do you now see why you need willpower in your life?

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Build Up Your Willpower and Self Discipline

Discover how to increase your willpower, discipline, determination and tenacity.Get the eBook

You Need to Develop Your Willpower

  • How to be able to make up your mind without too much overthinking, doubts and uncertainties?
  • How to build up the skill of making decisions and carrying them out?
  • What to do to be able to stop avoiding tasks?
  • How to be able to start with a diet and continue with it, go to the gym, or do the things you have been avoiding?

Well, the simple answer is WILLPOWER.

You need to develop your willpower.

It is a skill that nobody teaches at school, but it is one of the most important skills everyone should possess.

Now, I hear you say that it’s difficult to increase willpower. You might believe that doing so requires unusual power and inner strength which you lack.

That’s not correct.

Increasing your willpower is within your reach! It’s a matter of practicing certain simple exercises, and you can learn to practice them.

Lack of willpower is the cause of indecisiveness, procrastination, and the inability to carry out decisions.

On the other hand, people who possess this skill can make decisions faster, without overthinking. They take action, instead of staying passive. They do things and they get results.

What You gain When You Have Willpower

  • Willpower enables you to resist short-term gratification, so you can pursue long-term goals.
  • With willpower you can get better grades at school.
  • You are able to work harder to get a promotion at work.
  • It is the skill you need to make you get up and go to the gym, exercise your body, run or swim.
  • It will improve your confidence and self-esteem.
  • Get the respect of other people.
  • Become more assertive.
  • It becomes easier to overcome procrastination and laziness.
  • Its possession helps you improve your physical and mental health.
  • You feel strong, good, and able to deal with any situation you might face.

Lack of Willpower Can Create Problems

Lack of willpower is one of the main causes of failure, unhappiness, and lack of accomplishment.

  • If you lack willpower you allow other people to exploit and manipulate you.
  • When there is a lack of willpower it’s easier to fall prey to anger.
  • Without it, you might act impulsively and get yourself into unpleasant situations.
  • Without this skill, you would not persevere with your actions and your goals.
  • Without this skill, self-control would be weak.

Willpower is like a muscle, as you continue training it, this skill would get stronger, available to serve you whenever you need it.

How to Strengthen Your Willpower?

I hope that by now, you are convinced of the need to strengthen your willpower.

The book Build Up Strong Willpower and Self Discipline has been written for this purpose. It is a training program suitable for everyone, young and old, beginners, and experienced people.

You will find out how to strengthen your willpower and self discipline with simple, highly effective exercises, which you can practice at any time or place.

The good thing about the exercises is that you can integrate them into your daily life in a natural way, without setting apart special times for practice, and without interfering and disturbing your day-to-day life.

Don’t worry. It’s all simple and uncomplicated. You don’t have to practice all the exercises. Even just a few minutes a day of exercising would improve these abilities.

This book Build Up Strong Willpower and Self Discipline is available only from this website, and you can download it immediately after purchasing it.

Clicking on the link above, or on the button below, will bring you to a page with more information about the book, where you can purchase and download it.

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Build Up Your Willpower and Self Discipline

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