To make a good impression with your peers, on-the-job skills are not enough. What’s the deciding factor in this regard? Trust in others.
At least that’s what Amy Cuddy, professor of social psychology at Harvard Business School, says in her recent book Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges. Cuddy and other colleagues have spent 15 years studying the phenomenon of first impressions and its recurring mechanisms.
According to her, without being aware of it, we all quickly answer two questions in an interaction: “Can I trust this person? “and “Can I respect this person? “writes Amy Cuddy. The psychologist refers to these dimensions as “warmth,” which inspires trust, and “competence,” which inspires respect.
Many people believe – wrongly, according to the expert – that it is essential to showcase one’s intelligence and talents in order to impress colleagues favourably. While the skills your interviewer perceives you to have have play an important role, his or her opinion of you will be based more on the level of confidence they feel. Only after he or she has formed an opinion on the issue will he or she assess your skills.
If you’re trying to influence someone who doesn’t trust you, you’re not going to get very far,” says Cuddy. Instead, you might instead arouse suspicion by being perceived as manipulative. »
Darwin to the rescue
From an evolutionary point of view, it has always been crucial to the survival of the species to know whether another human deserves our trust,” she says. “For cavemen, it was more important to know if their fellow man would try to kill or steal them than if they were competent at lighting a fire… ”
People who inspire admiration are strong, warm and trustworthy,” the author continues. “But it is only when you have established trust that your strength is seen as a gift rather than a threat. »
Underestimating this aspect can have negative repercussions. For example, Amy Cuddy raised the case of trainees who were so concerned about being perceived as competent and intelligent workers that they either ignored social events or failed to integrate into the group. She also cites the example of employees who are perfectionist and very focused on their tasks and who are surprised when they don’t get the job they want.
A matter of perceptions
“Someone who looks competent will inspire more confidence than someone who is competent but does not demonstrate it,” says author and speaker Alain Samson. What you project is of enormous importance. It’s all about perception. »
Our state of mind also influences how others perceive us,” he says. “Someone who feels confident exudes confidence and inspires trust. “He says that this reaction is due to the effect of mirror neurons, which unconsciously push us to adopt the same posture as the person we are talking to, explaining the contagious effect of a smile, for example. “If you develop a feeling of confidence from the inside, you will automatically stand more upright, look straight and radiate from the inside. If you have doubts, others will feel it too. »
Good news: a bad first impression is not irreversible. Confidence is an asset that is built for the long term,” says Alain Samson. That’s why we have to work on developing it every day. »