In a recent HBR article, authors Galinsky and Kilduff, presented some research findings into ways in which you can create the desired first impression. Experience would suggest that one’s personality, appearance, background and confidence are essentially the attributes to impact perceptions and therefore you either have it or you don’t. However this body of research suggests that it also has much to do with how you “prime the pump” or adapt the right frame of mind when entering into these situations. They found that where people focused on previous powerful, promotion based, positive experiences, not alone were perceptions (from others present) more desirable but so too were the outcomes.
So, how might this play out relative to what is desired as a new leader, a salesperson visiting a potential customer for the first time, a coach entering the first session with a client, a job interviewee, or anybody trying to create a the right first impression. The key is to essentially psyche yourself up relative to a previous positive experience where you had power, or closed a deal, or connected with the client or got that job, and this gets the brain functioning in such a way that you come a across in a desirable fashion. It is important to also recognize that you cannot “fake it to make it”. This is a very authentic process where the priming can only be facilitated by a truly authentic experience. When you do this it creates, what the authors call, an “approach oriented mindset” that can work very positively in your favor.
We are meeting new people all the time, whether personally or professionally. Some people automatically prime the pump but for many of us a conscious thought process must be employed. By practicing it and continuously re-enforcing it might become natural. In some respects this sounds like positive affirmations accept these are rooted in previous successes.