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First Impressions: Confidence And Trustworthiness

“I usually make up my mind about a man in 10 seconds, and I very rarely change it.”

― Margaret Thatcher, Former British Prime Minister

Lady Thatcher was generous to withhold judgment for a full 10 seconds. Research shows people form first impressions almost immediately. A 2006 Princeton University study found that it takes just one-tenth of a second to make judgments about a person based on their facial appearance alone. People consciously and unconsciously form knee-jerk opinions about others based on a long list of factors: posture, eye contact, facial expression, clothing, handshake, voice, etc.

While all of these factors can come into play, social psychologist and Harvard researcher Amy Cuddy says the intangible traits of trustworthiness and confidence account for 80 to 90 percent of an overall first impression.

Cuddy told Wired, “When we form a first impression of another person it’s not really a single impression. We’re really forming two. We’re judging how warm and trustworthy the person is, and that’s trying to answer the question, ‘What are this person’s intentions toward me?’ And we’re also asking ourselves, ‘How strong and competent is this person?’ That’s really about whether or not they’re capable of enacting their intentions.”

So, by all means, stand straight, make eye contact, smile, dress well, shake with a firm hand, speak with a confident voice, but consider Cuddy’s tip to cultivate trust when you meet someone for the first time: give the other person the floor first. Let them speak first or ask them a question.

“Warmth is really about making the other person feel understood,” added Cuddy. “They want to know that you understand them. And doing that is incredibly disarming.”

Elements Of An Effective And Rigorous “Coaching Culture”

It is difficult to build top performing sales and customer service teams without an effective coaching culture in place.

In far too many companies, when we really examine what the people designated as “coaches” do, what we really find is:

  • Very little coaching in terms of skills development and training actually happens
  • Most coaching time is really spent talking about goals, problems areas inhibiting results and trying to motivate team members. This simply is not what coaching truly is.
  • Many managers that are supposed to be coaching truly believe they are too busy to spend much time coaching. Other tasks they have are believed to be more important.
  • The Managers/Executives that the front line Coaches report to are rarely insistent that effective coaching takes place. They don’t inspect much of what they expect and, often, are not very good at coaching themselves.
  • Coaching training focuses way too much on team building and goal setting and not nearly enough on how to use customer interaction drills and repetition with the team to raise skill levels
  • Most Managers have never reported to a good coach so they’ve never experienced what it’s like to be on a team that is rigorously coached

Consilio can change this fast.  We have worked with many companies that are serious about the customer, the sales process and how their people interact with customers.  We have coached their coaches to break their bad habits that often discourage and de-motivate team members.  We train them on how to handle resistant and difficult employees.  Coaches learn how to use drills, meetings and feedback to get better results than endlessly gazing into data screens.