Ok, you're sitting in a room, face-to-face with another person. Each of you has formed some initial impressions about the other. What next?
What the other person thinks of you might fall somewhat wide of the mark. Fortunately, you can still alter his or her perception of you by working on what is termed the second moment of truth.
Let's say that you accidentally sent the wrong signal to that hot guy or gal standing in the corner and came off as snobbishly uninterested. You can win his or her attention back by making eye contact and holding that gaze for slightly longer than necessary and flashing that ever-important quick smile. You'll be making polite conversation before you know it. Conversely, you can send a loser packing by making quick eye contact and dismissively breaking it off quickly and emphatically. In some respects, women benefit from this flirting technique more than men because women tend to be more advanced at making and reading social cues. If a man makes a bad impression in the critical hundredth of a second, there's not much he can do other than grin sheepishly and hope the woman gives him a second chance. (Thankfully women are also more likely to pick up and recognise an apologetic look!)
Three key tips
Here's how to alter how those around you feel, perceive you, and react to your presence. Try this technique with friends and colleagues because it can be remarkably powerful and persuasive.
1. Sit next to someone you know at a bar, in a restaurant, or at an office desk. As you talk, move items such as glasses, cutlery or stationery slowly toward him or her - only about an inch at a time. Do it subtly so that he or she doesn't immediately notice your advances.
2. After a while you'll notice changes in the other person's physiology. As he or she either backs away or pushes the items back toward you, note posture. Is she attacking? Is he becoming defensive?
3. Now, try the opposite direction. Pull those items back toward you. You've now got a great, subtle tool for when you want to influence how a person next to you feels. The other person will relax physically. For example, if somebody near you is becoming a little too overbearing or intimidating, inch objects toward him or her. Subtly invading the other person's space will unsettle him or her and reduce that person's level of confidence. Use that technique when you want to appear more assertive. On the other hand, if you're on a date and want the other person to engage a bit more with you, move items toward yourself. That communicates that you're comfortable with him or her coming closer and encroaching on your space. The same technique in reverse can signal discreetly for someone to back off. Whatever you want to achieve using this technique, the best part is that you don't have to resort to words to express yourself.
Appearance, posture, and body language all translate in the first moments of meeting someone into a first impression. That first impression is extremely important, but you always have a second chance to revise others' impressions of you. Use the opportunity.
Phillip Adcock is a commercial psychologist and author of Master Your Brain: Training your Mind for Success in Life. Available now on Amazon.