Judge not unless you want to be judged – ancient advice for the deepest moral matters, but in practical terms – and we’re including affairs of the heart – you’d better be able to size people up.
Human affairs are risky enough without ignoring the warning signs of sentient piranhas infesting life’s sometimes murky waters.
It’s good to know that you’re under constant scrutiny, too – the slightest misstep, the measliest faux pas and your reputation is sunk on that first date, or worse, in our calculating fiduciary hearts, in early contacts with potential client material.
How do we reveal ourselves? In easy conversation, the written words of a hastily formulated email, or in a firm or fleshy handshake? Sometimes, it takes little else, though with experience, we may learn to be tolerant. But what really ticks people off and makes them dislike us and reject our company? Let’s examine a list of negative behaviors, culled from the results of careful academic scrutiny, to see what alienates folks. It’s never too late to change, or learn the techniques of vigilance.
A common cause for friction occurs around the restaurant table. We’re not talking about the choice of wine or chicken wings: rather, it’s how you treat the staff. People will be watching your interactions with them, from maître ‘d to busboy, and may harshly judge you for any misstep. Are you peremptory and demanding? Spoiled or peevish? Worst of all, are you a measly tipper – this one is often disastrous for your reputation.
Some companies, when you arrive for an interview or sales call, will even set you up. How do you treat the guards, receptionists and admins? Detailed reports from these essential employees, highly valued and worthy of respect, will be forthcoming. Interviews over lunch – the traditional way for busy executives to kill two birds – are now used to scrutinize your treatment of restaurant staff (as duly noted), in addition to the revealing old ‘tell’ of how well you handle a glass of wine.
Another new factor of importance: how often do you check the messages on your phone? The smartphone may be ubiquitous, but many still treat them as flashy millstones and resent their ever-present imposition. Look at it this way: it doesn’t matter how you feel. Customers are calling with pressing concerns; colleagues need your urgent assistance; don’t get us started on the kids calling to say help! If you don’t return their calls promptly, they’ll hold it against you. It’s that simple to lose face and just as easy a behavior to correct.
Talking to colleagues, we noticed a peculiar sensitivity to one item that at first may seem quirky and inconsequential – but that academic research suggests is vital. We’re talking about nervous habits: repetitious and annoying little behaviors like head scratching, pen tapping, phone flipping, tie twisting – the ticks are innumerable and all suggest a person lacking in control.
Why are you so nervous? Are you distracted, out of your element – or maybe hiding something? Maybe you’re simply bored – that never sells. Controlling nervous habits begins with recognizing them. A calm presentation creates a professional gravitas that relaxes interlocutors and opens them up to your message.
The best conversationalists know how to relax people: they ask lots of questions. Blathering on about yourself is alienating, while giving your partner a chance to talk increases comfort and builds rapport. This is old advice: it’s how we eased our nerves in the early dating years, but when we’re making a business pitch, it’s easy to forget. Likely, whoever you’re speaking to will have plenty of questions, presenting your chance to explain all. Just remember, though: ‘getting to know you’ should always begin with a question.
For more information, please read:
Seven Small Things People Use To Decide If They Like You | Forbes