What Not To Wear to a Job Interview

Business SuitsI was walking through the shopping mall the other day and observed a teenager filling out an application for employment for one of the nearby clothing retailers. From the waist up, she looked dressed for success. HOWEVER, she was wearing denim shorts with frayed holes and flip-flops. This attire was suitable for shopping and not for seeking employment. Perhaps she was caught off guard by a job opportunity or perhaps she was friends with the manager who would not judge her for her appearance.

While conducting an employment interview, a young professional entered my office for an interview. On paper, he appeared well suited for the position. His appearance told a different story.  He was wearing a blue velvet sport coat and skinny tie. His face displayed a 2-day shadow of a beard. If he was going out to the club this would be a splendid look. HOWEVER, not when you are trying to impress someone who is deciding if you are suitable for employment in a professional environment.  When someone shows up looking like this, I have to conclude they are not serious about the job.

Nalini Ambady, professor of psychology at Tufts University, has conducted a great deal of research into first impressions. She is probably one of the foremost experts in the field. In a 1993 study with Robert Rosenthal, Professor Ambady determined how quickly we could assess someone on the first impression.

The researchers used three different video clips of thirteen teachers in ten second segments. Fifteen different characteristics were used to determine the rating of teachers on a scale from one to nine. These factors included empathy, likeable, dominant, confidence and others. The ratings were very similar among the nine judges. At the end of the semester, the students using the same criteria, rated the same teachers.

A significant correlation was found between the semester long judgments versus those exposed to the ten second video clips. The researchers shortened the clips to five seconds and finally to two seconds. Unbelievably, there was still a significant correlation with the end of the semester ratings. What this extraordinary study revealed was that the first impressions of people exposed to a person for a mere two seconds did not differ significantly from those exposed to the person for an entire semester of weekly lectures.

The researchers then showed fifteen second clips of the interviewees entering the room and shaking hands. They discovered that the original intent of the study was to learn whether interviewees coached in certain nonverbal gestures would do better in an interview. They did not.

In another study of first impressions, Dr. Frank Bernieri now a professor at Oregon State University, conducted a study while still at the University of Toledo. One of his undergraduate students tested whether the initial handshake was important. She had heard that “the handshake is everything” and wanted to test that old adage. She used a 15-second video clip showing the candidate knocking on the door, shaking hands, and being greeted by the interviewer.  

The results were surprising. What the researchers discovered was that in nine of the eleven categories that applicants were judged upon, they found that those brief glimpses mirrored the final evaluation of the ratings from those who sat through the full interview. Bernieri told The New Yorker. “In fact, the strength of the correlation was extraordinary.”

So, here we are back to the professors rating by Dr. Nalini Ambady. You can do all the evaluating you want, but those first few seconds of exposure will allow you to sink or swim. If you are applying for employment, an internship, or conducting a sales call, you must stand out. I am not talking about standing out like a clown at the rodeo. You must be memorable. You must make that personal connection. Your appearance, your stride, your posture, the tone of your greeting, your smile, and your handshake are essential elements. You can practice mock interviews and go through all kinds of tutoring and sales training. You might know your product inside and out, and that knowledge may have a bearing as time goes on, but if you flop on the entrance, you may as well pick up your ball and go home.

For more information on interviewing first impressions and job interviewing skills, take a look at: FACE 2 FACE : Observation, Interviewing and Rapport Building Skills: an Ex-Secret Service Agent’s Guide http://www.amazon.com/Face-2-ebook/dp/B009991BII/ref=sr_1_6?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1354630000&sr=1-6

 

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The Flaring and Crinkling Nose of Body Language

BullIf you see someone flaring their nose like a bull getting ready to charge the matador, you might want to find an excuse to leave the room. This behavior is never a good sign.

What else does the nose tell us in body language? There has been a great deal suggested about the Pinocchio effect on the nose. The theory being that as someone is deceitful, the blood pressure is elevated causing swelling in the nasal cavity, which results in people rubbing their nose. a Very famous person was accused of being deceptive about an adulterous affair because of his increased rubbing of his the nose. I will not dispute that this occurred, but remind you that all nonverbal behavior should be taken into context. If someone suffers from allergies, this could induce itching of the nose. Dr. Aldert Vrij, Professor at Portsmouth University, who has focused his study on the detection of deception, failed to substantiate the so-called “Pinocchio Nose Effect.”

The bewitched effect is when someone crinkles his or her nose. The crinkling could be in response to their desire to make themselves or you disappear. I am guilty of this fleeting gesture if something does not meet with my approval. This fleeting gesture should be viewed in context. Remember what your nose does when you smell something putrid? The 3 day old fish in the trashcan, the gym locker-room, or some unsavory gossip. The nose crinkles with displeasure. If your boss asks you to work late, or a client asks if you could lower your commission, you too may crinkle the nose. If you have allergies, be mindful not to crinkle the nose, or you jeopardize sending the wrong message.

While the nose is sniffing out some good scents, it might also be exposing some of our inner thoughts in body language.

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Liar Liar! Deception Detection Techniques

Therell-be-a-lot-of-nose-touchingI was watching an interview of a suspect and all fingers of guilt were pointed in his direction. He locked down his body language. He clasped his hands together in the lap and froze his feet as if he were stuck in cement. He gave an occasional head nod. His overall body posture was stiff and stoic. The line of questioning was serious and he was confronted with possible deceptions. This person was trying to conceal the leakage of the body language, but instead broadcast the abnormal.

 What is the abnormal and what are the red flags of deception. We all have certain “tells” or deviations from our normal behavior when we are being deceptive. This is in response to stress at our attempts to suppress the truth. There are two important aspects to deception. The first is what is at stake and the resulting stress. Many, who proffer opinions concerning deception, have not sat across the table from someone that is looking at a prison jumpsuit for years. Do you like the red dress or the black?  Either one is a winner. Are you lying about why you left your last job during an HR job interview? You might not be hired. The stakes are increased. Did you steal the TV from the loading dock? You could be fired and go to jail.

The second important aspect to deception detection is a departure from their normal baseline. What is the normal baseline? I always strived for rapport. When conducting an interview, I find their interests and passions. We talk about their background. I want them to relax and become comfortable, so that I can gauge their body language and verbal response tendencies in a relaxed state.  

Politicians are priceless when it comes to speaking, and they are masters of deception. One of the primary clues is the response latency. That is the time it takes to respond to the question. If you catch them off guard and in a basic state of shock, the cortex must now respond and is in a position to formulate an answer. Quite often, these gaps are populated with stalling words such as ahhh or ummm.

Another manner of delayed response is deflection. Like a mirror, deflection is a verbal device of beaming the rays back to you. They may ask you to repeat the question for clarification. They might ask you to rephrase the question. On the other side of the coin, a too quick response sends a message that you have rehearsed an answer to an anticipated question. This jumping the gun behavior happens after debate prep, in which a candidate is asked every conceivable question. As the question is asked, the respondent anticipates the question and suffers a false start. 

We all take a moment to formulate a response to an inquiry. Just be mindful the longer it takes, the more disingenuous you sound. A normal response is about one second. In a study in 2002, Professor Robin Lickley of Queen Margaret University in Scotland determined the longer the lapse between the question and the answer, the greater chance of being perceived as untruthful. The pregnant pause merely raises a flag to your intended recipients that they may view you as less than forthcoming.

Bella DePaulo, psychology professor at the University of Virginia, and DeborahKashy, an assistant professor of psychology at Texas A & M University, in a 1996 study discovered that people lie every day. According to their study of students who maintained journals, they lied about thirty percent of the time in different interactions. Many of these deceptions are innocent. “I can’t go out tonight, I have to study,” or “I have to transplant the ficus tree.”

If they salt in qualifying statements that are not necessary, beware. “To be perfectly honest…” “I want to tell you the truth.” “The truth of the matter is…” There is no reason to add these if you are in fact telling the truth. Your response should stand on its own. People use “honest” all the time. Honest is honest. Is “perfectly honest” more honest than plain honest? You be the judge.

Pronoun usage can also indicate truthfulness. When using “I,” you are taking responsibility or ownership. When you are looking to place some distance between you and the answer, you talk in the “we, they, and you,” vernacular. I really saw this behavior in statements from criminals when they were talking of victims or accusers. Instead of using the person’s name, they used “that girl” or “that car.” These responses show a dissociation of the person or item.  Keep in mind that humble individuals have difficulty talking of about them and using “I.”

Many will attest to increased blink rate, touching the nose, as in the Pinocchio effect, eye- tracking movement, tongue jut and so on. I am cautious to look for these “gotcha” gestures. How would you like to be judged a liar because of environmental conditions or allergies? “You touched your nose!”  I preferred to monitor comfort versus discomfort in nonverbal displays. Is their response a result to the question or in response to the thought that they forgot to pay the electric bill?  

Aldert Vrij, professor of Applied Psychology at the University of Portsmouth, UK, has focused his research in the area of deception. He is one of the foremost authorities on lying. A great deal of junk science is out there. Vrij’s extensive research has determined one single trait that is of a higher consistency with deception. Most people not being truthful are less expressive with their hands and arms. That’s it. Period. 

For more information on interviewing deception, take a look at: FACE 2 FACE : Observation, Interviewing and Rapport Building Skills: an Ex-Secret Service Agent’s Guide http://www.amazon.com/Face-2-ebook/dp/B009991BII/ref=sr_1_6?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1354630000&sr=1-6

 

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Exposing the Narcissist HR Job Applicant

trophy-mdBeware of the initial charm and exterior wrapping of a narcissistic employment candidate. If you were selecting the grab bag from under the tree, a narcissist would be the present wrapped in the prettiest wrapping paper and the biggest bow. You would be attracted to the glitz and there would be a mad scramble to grab the present. Once opened, the box would be empty. How do you prevent wasting your time opening the empty box?

What are the symptoms of a narcissist? The most troubling are they are egocentric, have a sense of entitlement and lack of empathy towards others. They have an elitist viewpoint and they do not take kindly to criticism. They can become quite aggressive when challenged. They are toxic waste dumps leaving a long wake of carnage. One of sixteen people could be diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder and one in four supervisors. That last statistic always garners a few chuckles when I present this topic at conferences.

Ask the applicant to share their best attributes, and ask why they would be the right person for the job. If they are a narcissist, sit back and watch them bloviate about themselves. Listen and analyze their accomplishments. Are they bragging?  Sure, in a human resource interview, applicants need to sound like the neatest invention since the iPad, but the narcissist will take it to a new level. When you are interviewing applicant, you can ask them for a list of their greatest achievements. Narcissists will have a ready list. Non-narcissists will have to mull over the list and may be more modest or team oriented. The narcissistic I-Bomb will drop the, “I did this and I did that.” As my mother called them, “The Great I am.”

Watch for trophy collectors. Once they are awarded the key to the city, they move on with little consideration. One applicant that I interviewed had attained first place in an academic team competition as junior. I asked how he came out his senior year. His response was why would he enter a contest in which he had already achieved greatness?  He reiterated a similar story concerning an athletic competition. Finished first and put the trophy on the shelf. Life was a series of trophy hunts and short-term success. Humility is not in their suit of armor. When I gave him the Heisman trophy stance with a stiff arm, he was stunned. How could I turn down his awesomeness?

Start talking about yourself and see how quickly they develop the glazed over eye look. They are in deep thought about how great they are and lose all interest in your story. They lack sincere empathy. Share a story of tribulation and they may feign interest, but they will not ask deeper questions. Many will have exaggerated movements and be poor listeners. Think of the person that attracts everyone around the water cooler. Life is all about them and they enjoy being the center of attention.  Is the water cooler jerk a quality employee?

Not all narcissist look like and act like Donald Trump. Be mindful of the closet narcissist who has learned to control him or her conduct with a measured approach.  They are the potential concealed mines that are difficult to find during the short HR interview. They can be quite charming. I-Bombs tend to be great dressers and tend to be attractive. This is not always the case, as I have seen some that would make a tuxedo look bad, but they still viewed themselves as a hot as a chili pepper. A study was conducted that observed pedestrians passing a mirrored glass building. Those with higher narcissistic tendencies paused to admire their reflection.  I was reminded by this when folks told me of observing a supervisor out for an afternoon run, and he checked out his posterior in the reflection of a window. Who has the energy during a run to check out their image, never mind their backside? The subordinates were across the street in a restaurant and enjoyed a great laugh. 

Narcissists have a strong sense of entitlement. Ask them why they are right for the job. They will be glad to answer. Ask a theoretical question that can elicit an entitled response. “If you entered a business as a new employee and a promotion became available. You and your team were developing the next generation prototype product and the team is on the verge of a major breakthrough.  Your team has invested weekends and considerable overtime in product development.  Although you had only been there for one year, your competition for the job has been there ten years. Do you think you would be right for the promotion and why?” The follow-up questions would be, “How would the team feel with you leaving or how should a ten year employee feel that you received the coveted promotion?”  A narcissist will go for the promotion and abandon the team. They will feel their contributions were enough to take credit for success of the team. The promotion will be too big of dangling filet mignon to pass up. Most people would feel some sense of loyalty and devotion to the team, while feeling insecure about competing against an experienced co-worker for a position.

We all have some attributes of narcissism and some of those qualities are what make applicants successful. True narcissists make shallow intimate partners, terrible teammates or co-workers and horrible bosses. If you can pre-empt them during the HR hiring interview, you will have done a great service to your company in eliminating potential I-Bombs.

For more information on interviewing and narcissists, take a look at: FACE 2 FACE : Observation, Interviewing and Rapport Building Skills: an Ex-Secret Service Agent’s Guide http://www.amazon.com/Face-2-ebook/dp/B009991BII/ref=sr_1_6?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1354630000&sr=1-6

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HR Interviews are like the Gumbo of a Cop Interview

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Like a good gumbo, it is best to allow an opportunity for the ingredients to become familiar with each other and to blend. You add one ingredient at a time while cooking at a low to medium setting. Then turn up to the heat to boil. Add a little spice. The result is a delectable success. The process takes time, but the outcome is worth the time. When I conducted a police interview or an HR interview, I used the same tactic as I use in the kitchen.

Are you a cop or an HR interviewer? Does it really matter? Yes for the criminal suspect there is more at stake, but the process is the same. You have a new applicant sitting in front of you. You have gazed at her application or resume. In all probability, you have some preconceived notions concerning their viability. How do you plan to flush out how good he or she will be? Are you going to ask the same formula questions that everyone asks? Why do you want to leave your current position? Why do you want to come to work for our magnificent company? What are your attributes and weakness? Please! Anyone with a lick of sense has already read and rehearsed expected answers to the formulaic questions. Stop the insanity!

Most applicants are muted in their nonverbal behavior or body language displays. Feet planted on the ground and arms grabbing the chair like a rollercoaster. They smile and nod. Are you sitting across the table in an adversarial role? Get rid of the table or at least sit on the corner so you can monitor their full body language display.

My goal was to relax the person and develop rapport. It did not matter if they were a suspect in a crime or a job applicant my approach was the same. I am not talking about mixing mojitos or cranking up some dance tunes. I start asking about their background and exploring what excites them. What do you do for fun and what are your hobbies? Then start drilling down and prying the doors open to their soul. When they share with you that they are a scrapbooker or enjoy cooking, ask some open ended questions. What cuisines excite you the most? What is your favorite dish? How long does it take to complete a photo album? Which is your favorite album and why? Watch as they begin to relax and their eyes begin to dance with excitement.

Bang! Hit them with, if I were to call your supervisor what would she say about your job performance? Listen and watch. If the smile drops like a brick in a pond, and their feet hike up under their chair, there is cause for concern. Listen for what they don’t say. Return to cooking and ask about the most difficult dish they prepared successfully. Watch the restoration of the positive body language. Bang! Hit them again. Why do you want to leave your current position? Watch and listen.

Return to the cooking channel and then ask a situational reasoning question. If you heard your best friend in the next cubicle tell someone on the telephone that he was going to call in sick the next day, despite the group deadline to complete a project that will ensure continued profitability for the company, what would you do? If your BFF went ahead and called in sick, and the boss asked you if your friend was really sick? Turn up the heat. Crank it up! Depending on her answer, twist them. So you would betray your friend?  Who also happens to be your brother-in-law and godfather to your children? The holiday gatherings could be a little frosty, right?  Oh, so you would lie to the boss? Watch the inner conflict boil to the surface. Bring your Junior Mints because this is pure entertainment.

It never hurts to keep them off their game by asking an out of leftfield question. What five acts of kindness would you use if you won the lottery? Have you ever thought about moving to a disserted place on earth and where? What age would you like to live until? Why are clowns scary? The purpose of these questions are to break the rhythm and make the applicant think outside the box in the human resource interview process.

Now share with them that you have some highly qualified applicants with strong education and an experienced background. Why should I hire you? Stare right in their face when you ask, yes, watch and listen. Now is the time to address questions concerning their resume.

Take the time to share the expectations of the job. Be honest. I want people to understand and be very clear of the expectations. In this employment environment, there is no need to sell swampland and package it as waterfront property. I know one employer who assured the applicant in the financial industry that the workweek was 40 to 45 hours a week. Oops. More like 60-65. Now you are stuck with an employee who feels deceived and wants out. I never wanted anyone to come up to me later and complain that he or she did not realize the demands of the job. I stressed the travel hardships, and working nights, weekends and holidays. Did I scare a few off? Perhaps. In all the years, I had very few applicants withdraw. Most applicants would have agreed to clean out the elephant’s pen at the zoo. Travel? No problem. Until the trip falls on an anniversary and to Siberia in the winter. At least they were warned.

Return to small talk and wind down the interview with smiles and handshakes. You should do a lot more listening than talking. You have two ears and one mouth for a reason. The rapport questions establish a baseline of nonverbal behavior that you can monitor for changes as you ask questions that are more challenging.  Now, on to the next applicant and repeat the process.

For more information on interviewing and rapport building, take a look at: FACE 2 FACE : Observation, Interviewing and Rapport Building Skills: an Ex-Secret Service Agent’s Guide http://www.amazon.com/Face-2-ebook/dp/B009991BII/ref=sr_1_6?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1354630000&sr=1-6

 

 

 

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Lips Reveal Emotions in Body Language

False SmileHave you ever listened to a bad joke and gave a halfhearted smile? You wanted to be polite and avoid conveying your true emotions. False smiles of obligation are easy to detect. Politicians like to give polite smiles, as he or she is introduced. The picture is of an Olympic athlete who came in second. Genuine smile? No so much. When there are true emotions displayed in the smile, look at the outside corners of the eyes as the skin will form crow’s feet and are easily recognized. False smiles will fail to deliver the crow’s feet. The skin will remain smooth. Go to the mirror and try this yourself. Practice your smile.

Are the lips disappearing or is she swallowing her lips? My lips are sealed. I am not saying anything and not letting anything inside my mouth. The mouth is the gatekeeper. The tighter the lips, the more negative the reaction to the point that the corners of the mouth will create a sad line. I watched an episode of The Pitchman, in which a contestant was asked a difficult question concerning the marketing audience of her product. Her lips almost disappeared. She had not anticipated this question and obviously had difficulty with a response. She was obviously in bad trouble and she was declined funding for her project.

Pursing of the lips is an indicator of angst, turmoil or disagreement. The lips will puckerLip Purse A-Rod up ever so slightly in response to the incoming message. I worked for a supervisor who was a chronic lip purser. When I saw the pursing of lips, I knew he was not in agreement with my idea. He often would add a head nod as if to say I agree with you, but I always knew he was about to deliver an alternative suggestion.

A sneering mouth and combined with the rolling of eyes is indicative of contempt. This is always a negative gesture. People who show contempt are not and probably never will have a friendship with you. Psychologist John Gottman, in his study of marriage counselor patients, was able to predict with ninety percent accuracy the longevity of the marriage. According his research, contempt was the strongest clue displayed by the couples headed for trouble.

If the tongue sticks out and retracts quickly like a lizard, this is a clue that the person is being sneaky or concealing. It can be used when you make a coy joke. Remember when as kids, you would stick out your tongue in a taunting manner? In adults, it is difficult to get away with such immature behavior. So, as adults we are more discreet and therefore more concealing of the technique. It could also be that they are touching their lips for moisture. As you can see, with most displays of body language, there is often more than one explanation.

The hands over the mouth are an indication of low confidence. The conduct is often associated with reluctance for the words to come out and we are shielding our mouth from view. This behavior is a negative gesture and not well received by the recipient. This conduct is similar to placing the hands under the table or the magician’s sleight of hand.

I worked with a coworker who was one of the toughest people I knew. He was a Vietnam veteran, who had seen combat and was the real deal. He constantly covered his mouth during conversation. He was a shy person and lacked confidence when engaging in public dialogue. Rest assured everything he said was the truth. Just keep in mind if your hand is in front of your mouth, it will raise a flag of concern.

Fingers in the mouth are pacifying and an indication of uncertainty. It is also a dirty habit considering where the fingers may have been. If you watch the fingers slip inside the oral orifice, it is a good assumption that something is bothering them. Make sure you keep your fingers out of the oral cavity. You will lose any positive standing.

smiley_in_washing_machineFor more tips on body language and developing The last tip I would like to provide concerning the mouth and lips. If the mouth moves around more than a washing machine on the spin cycle, the person displaying this behavior is having a great deal of discomfort with your conversation. You need to examine the reason for this reaction.

As always, keep in mind what the movements of your mouth are conveying. Your mouth may be revealing your inner emotions and conflict.

For more tips on body language and developing rapport, take a look at FACE 2 FACE : Observation, Interviewing and Rapport Building Skills: an Ex-Secret Service Agent’s Guide http://www.amazon.com/Face-2-ebook/dp/B009991BII/ref=sr_1_6?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1354630000&sr=1-6

 

 

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Toes Indicate Direction of Interest in Conversation

Where are your toes pointed? Your toes and the direction of your feet will indicate if you are interested in your conversational partner or more interested in fleeing. Keep them pointed in the direction of the person or group of interest. footprints-white-clipartI self monitor all the time to ensure that I am wiggling my toes toward the person I am speaking. Non-verbal behavior starts with me. Where your feet point, is your direction of interest. If the feet are pointing towards the door, guess what you are telling them, “I can’t wait to get away from you and out of here.” You can see this in a boring presentation or one that has lasted too long. Look at the flip-flops of the attendees. They are screaming, “Let me out.

How about your date? Prince Charming’s feet are pointed toward the exit is a good indication there will not be a second date. Your client’s wingtips are canted toward your office door? No sale. During a job interview, are you pointing your ankles toward to door? The interviewer will get back to you….Never!

Monitor your body language and what you are projecting. Try to keep the legs in a natural position. When you cross them, the position displays a closed posture. After obtaining a level of comfort with the person, go ahead and cross if doing so makes you comfortable. This display is especially true if they cross their legs first. Keep your hands from clasping the leg as if you are forming a sturdy fortress.

When you are standing and you cross one of your legs over the other, you are showing a sign of relaxation and ease. The reason is that your body is not fully balanced. Crossing your leg is fine after you have time to interact. You do not want to portray the “Too Cool Cat” with your legs crossed at the moment of your first meeting. After you have had time to meet, then you can slip your leg over the other.

You do not want to fidget. Swinging or kicking the legs is not a sign of confidence. It might even reflect immaturity. You might not be aware of the jitters, but fidgeting reflects either impatience or nervousness. Neither is good for rapport building. Remember, keep the toes pointed toward your friend.

For more tips on body language and developing rapport, take a look at FACE 2 FACE : Observation, Interviewing and Rapport Building Skills: an Ex-Secret Service Agent’s Guide http://www.amazon.com/Face-2-ebook/dp/B009991BII/ref=sr_1_6?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1354630000&sr=1-6

 

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Smiles Lead to Longer Life Span

Jackie RobinsonAs a kid, I attached valuable baseball cards to the spokes of my bike to make the sound of a motorcycle. Not everyone was destroying future investments. Researchers at Wayne State University examined photos of two hundred and fifty baseball players prior to 1950. They analyzed the smile or lack of smiles. Those that displayed no smile lived to 72.9 years old. Those with partial smiles lived to the age of 75. Players with big smiles lived on average to 79.9 years old. Coincidence? Perhaps.

When you flash a genuine smile at someone, the results are always positive. Studies widely reported without accreditation concluded that people who smile frequently are seen as being more confident and successful and are more likely to strike up conversations with strangers if they are smiling, and bosses are more likely to promote people who smile a lot. The last one did not work for me. The bottom line is that smiles generate a positive response.

Remember the story we have all heard that it takes so many muscles to smile and a lot more to create a frown? The numbers of muscles used are all over the place, leading one to believe that no one really knows, but I know I feel better when I smile. Even when I am blue and someone is able to elicit a smile, I feel just a tad better for that moment. Smiles are usually reciprocated. The act of smiling releases the feel good endorphins from the brain, which leads to making us feel happier. Dr. Paul Ekman from the University of California at San Francisco and University of Wisconsin neuroscientist Richard Davidson, used brain scans to show that smiling activates some parts of the brain associated with pleasure and happiness.

Just imagine the effects your smiles will have on your conversational partner. If your smile and enthusiasm makes them smile, they will feel the energy exploding through their body. Smiles are so important for establishing rapport.

Keep smiling and live longer!!!

For more tips on developing rapport, take a look at FACE 2 FACE : Observation, Interviewing and Rapport Building Skills: an Ex-Secret Service Agent’s Guide http://www.amazon.com/Face-2-ebook/dp/B009991BII/ref=sr_1_6?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1354630000&sr=1-6

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Are you Honest? How do stack up?

How honest are you? While walking through an urban park in the heat, you have worked up a thirst. You look over to see a display of refreshing bottled tea. Would you deposit the requested dollar donation in the box and help yourself to the thirst quencher? No one is looking. Would you grab a bottle and skip the donation?

According to a, Harris Interactive Poll, trust by the American public is eroding. No shock there. Only one quarter believe in the credibility of banks and a whopping ninety-six percent distrust Wall Street. The government is distrusted by seventy six percent of those polled. Ethics is the basis of credibility.

truth-mdThe Reumedoctor.com reported that 42.7 percent of all resumes had inaccuracies. Some of these could have been honest mistakes on the dates of employment, but other errors were more egregious. The former CEO of Radio Shack was fired when discrepancies were found in his resume. He had claimed to possess two degrees when he had not earned either. Yahoo’s CEO Scott Thompson, also fell victim to an error in his resume.

According to the 2009 Edelman Trust Barometer, 91% of consumers indicated they purchased a product or service from a company that they trusted, and while 77% refused to conduct purchases from companies, they did not trust. As President Theodore Roosevelt said,  “To educate a person in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society.” In today’s society, ethics are quite often shoved aside in pursuit of profits.

Back to the refreshing tea question. The Honest Tea Company performed this honor system experiment in 61 cities across America. How many folks deposited the dollar? The overall honesty was 92%. That is an enlightening result. Alabama and Hawaii were found to be the most honest at 100% compliance. Who finished last? Would it be surprising to you that Washington, D.C. came in dead last at 80%? Didn’t think so. By the way, the CEO of the company, Seth Goldman had his bicycle stolen from our Nation’s capital during the experiment. Ooops.

I advocate that first impressions count. Who do you think were the most honest? Females were honest more than males and the longer the hair, the more you could be trusted. If you were in a group, you were more likely to contribute the requested donation. Group dynamics can be relevant on decision-making and stereotypes do not always apply.

The proof of honesty is in the pudding or in this case the tea. Maybe we are not as devious as some think and perhaps more likely to be honest.

Posted in Ethics, First Impressions, Observation | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Vulnerability Accelerator for Relationships

woman-in-the-maskPssst. Don’t tell anyone, but I have a secret to share. Come closer, so no one can hear. When we share an intimate insight with our conversational partner, we are exposing a vulnerability and appear more likable. We must be judicious in our sharing. No one wants to hear about your painful hemorrhoids.

You don’t want to share a secret that might be repulsive. I had a fellow that shared some very intimate secrets of his sex life. Let’s just say he and his wife had struggled with intimacy, which lead to infidelity, which when exposed to the wife, lead to an insatiable appetite for sex between the estranged couple. TMI – Too Much Information. This was on our first meeting. The good side was that I apparently made him feel very comfortable. I had to check to see that I was not wearing a priest’s collar and we were in the confessional. He crossed the line and made me uncomfortable. He was unleashing a burden and not developing rapport.

In church, one of our priests disclosed his vulnerability to being judgmental. He confessed to the congregation of several weaknesses including judging the youths that allow their pants to hang down under their underwear and the public display of tattoos. His shared that he too bore weaknesses similar to everyone else. His confession of imperfection grabbed the congregation.

In a study by N.L. Collins and L.C. Miller in 1994, they discovered those people that let you in on a little personal secret will be more admired. In turn, people who trust you will share more of their secrets. I’ll show you mine if you show me yours. This is one of the building blocks of building a relationship. You are sharing facets and emotions of your life that peel back the veneer and show your vulnerabilities. If you are in a dating situation, this can take your relationship to an entire different level.

Disclosing an embarrassing moment or a peculiar trait can enhance bonding. Think of an occasion during a dating situation or a business meeting when you bonded with someone after disclosing a more intimate story. Public speakers use self-deprecating humor to bond with their audience.

Be careful when disclosing insider or fiduciary information. This disclosure can show a character flaw. The person you are revealing this confidential information with, will look upon you with distrust and will always be wary of your intentions. If you are violating this trust, what else will you be willing to do?

Don’t accept your ignorance. Challenge your intellect. Seek knowledge from those around you. If you don’t know something, don’t bluff it and look like a fool. Most people can see through the veil. Self-disclosure can be the cement that joins two bricks. You are asking for their help. People love to talk, especially in their fields of knowledge. If they throw out a term that you are not familiar with then go ahead, ask for clarification, and disclose your weakness while asking for their help.

Go ahead; it is all right to share a secret. Have fun and laugh in conversation.

For more tips on developing rapport, take a look at FACE 2 FACE : Observation, Interviewing and Rapport Building Skills: an Ex-Secret Service Agent’s Guide http://www.amazon.com/Face-2-ebook/dp/B009991BII/ref=sr_1_6?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1354630000&sr=1-6

Posted in Rapport | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments