• Make Perfect First Impressions

How To Make The Perfect First Impression

scarlett johansson

You never get a second chance to make a great first impression.

That's because within seconds of meeting you, people will have judged your social status, your level of education, and even your potential for success.

Within just 2-3 minutes, they've also decided on your levels of intelligence, your trustworthiness and your overall degree of competence. And although these evaluations happen in an instant, their effects can last for years, or decades - even a lifetime.

Behavioral research has proven that once we‘ve made a judgment about someone, everything we see and hear from then on gets filtered through this initial impression. So it goes without saying that if you're looking to make a charismatic first impression, you had better get it right the first time.

In this article, you'll learn:
+ The Science Behind First Impressions
+ Why First Impressions Are So Powerful
+ How To Make Yourself Unforgettable To Everyone You Meet
+ How To Master the Art of Clever Compliments

The Science Behind First Impressions

Perhaps the biggest reason that first impressions have such an impact is that they're often actually right. In fact, several notable studies have confirmed that we humans have evolved to be pretty accurate in our perceptions of someone's personality - even after meeting them for only a few seconds.

In psychology, it's called the Primacy Effect. This is the condition by which your first impression about someone (or something) causes you to interpret their future behavior in a way that is wholly consistent with your first impression.

These compelling findings were the basis for Malcolm Gladwell’s popular book, Blink, which summarized much of the research.

In one study conducted at the University of Texas at Austin, people were able to judge a person's personality traits - including openness, agreeableness, emotional stability, self-esteem, loneliness, and even political orientation - with 90% accuracy just by looking at a single snapshot!

That's because first impressions are generated by the fastest part of the brain, which is also the most primitive. This 'reptilian brain' may have been a key to our ancestors‘ survival in hunter-gatherer times, when we often had only a split second to determine whether shapes entering our field of vision were friend or foe. 

Today, even in sophisticated business settings, we still operate on hunter-gatherer survival instincts. Many CEOs and human resource professionals will openly admit that they decide whether they‘ll hire a job applicant within the first few seconds of the interview.  As one hiring manager said, 'The rest of the interview is just window dressing.'

How To Use The Power Of First Impressions To Your Advantage 

The good news is that there's a simple skill that almost anyone can learn to virtually guarantee a positive first impression. And nearly 3 years of comprehensive research on the topic of charisma has lead me right back to the same technique I used over a decade ago.

Looking back on my career working in some of Chicago's busiest nightclubs, I can pretty much say that of all my trade secrets, the most powerful was also the most simple:

Between 11pm and 1am, I'd make it a nightly ritual to tour the venue and offer sincere praise to every woman in attendance.

That's right - I said every one of them. 

That meant that if there were 300 women in the venue, I'd make it a point to hand out 300 unique, sincere compliments a night. Every night.

(As you can imagine, I got pretty damn good at it)

This nightly ritual not only guaranteed that the women who came to our events always left with a  positive experience, it also guaranteed that they'd be back for more the following week.

Female customers are the life-blood of any nightclub's success, and it was no accident that our promotional company quickly earned a reputation for always bringing out the city's most beautiful women.

How To Make Yourself Unforgettable: The Power of Authentic Praise 

According to body language expert Allan Pease, complimenting someone you meet for the first time means that they'll actually remember you as being taller, thinner and younger than you actually are! 'So forget about diets', says Pease. 'Just learn how to give compliments!'

Allan Pease

The power of genuine appreciation is no less potent today than it was 80 years ago when Dale Carnegie wrote one of the most legendary books of all time, 'How To Win Friends and Influence People'.

Norihiro Sadato, professor at the National Institute for Physiological Sciences in Japan adds 'Our research has shown that the same area of the brain affected in this study, the striatum, is activated when a person is rewarded a compliment or cash.'

This crazy but true statistic has been proven in numerous studies over the past decade, and yes - I still make it an automatic habit to offer sincere praise to everyone I meet. It's a virtually guaranteed means of always making an unforgettable first impression.

(For more: See My Article on the 6 Qualities of Highly Charismatic People)

How To Master the Art of Clever Compliments

The goal of any aspiring charismatic should be to leave everyone you encounter with two things: A positive impression of you, and more importantly - a positive feeling about themselves.

One secret I use for giving the perfect compliment is to be sure that it's uniquely tailored to the individual. I'll do this by simply observing what it is that the recipient already wants to be complimented on.

 - Did the person make it a point to show up in a custom-fit suit?
 - Did they just have their hair or nails done?
 - Are they wearing accessories that perfectly compliment their attire?

HELLO ... These little nuances are hardly an accident!  

Humans beings are hard-wired to appreciate people who notice and appreciate them. So tell people what they did right. Then tell them why you appreciate them for it.

The 5 Most Common Charisma Killers

Miley Cyrus

Charisma. Even after 3 years of researching the topic, I'm still taken aback by just how thoroughly fascinated everyone I meet is about the subject.

And when I let people in on the little-known secret that charisma is actually a set of skills that anyone can learn, that's when they really start to pay attention.

The avalanche of questions that follows usually starts like this: 'So what do I need to start doing to be charismatic?'

Naturally, they're surprised when I tell them that becoming a more charismatic person actually starts with the things they need to stop doing.

In this article, I've outlined out the 5 most common charisma killers I see when working with people who are looking to level up their powers of personal magnetism. You'll learn what behaviors to avoid at all costs, and how doing so can virtually triple your charisma overnight.

The Five Most Common Charisma Killers Are (In No Particular Order):

Charisma Killer #1: You Think Charisma's About Your Ability To Impress

Ask any expert on the topic of charisma who they think might be the most charismatic politician of all time, and 9 of 10 will tell you it was this guy: Benjamin Disraeli.

Case in Point: In the summer of 1886, Disraeli was facing William Gladstone for the position of Prime Minister of England.

When reporters covering the heated election discovered that both men had happened to take the same young woman out to dinner, their curiosity compelled them to interview her about which candidate had impressed her the most.

She responded, 'After dining with Mr. Gladstone, I felt like he was the most fascinating person in England. But after dining with Mr. Disraeli, I felt like I was the most fascinating person in England.'

Guess who won the election. It was the man who made others feel impressive and fascinating.

Moral of the Story: If you want to dramatically boost your attractor factor, take a hint from Prime Minister Disraeli. Stop trying to impress the people you meet, and start letting them impress you instead.

Charisma Killer #2: You Can't Get Out of You Own Head

Those who coach the art of charisma know that presence is the single most requested skill we're called upon to teach top performers.

That's because presence - having a moment-to-moment awareness of what‘s happening (rather than being stuck in your head) - is a commodity so rare that it's hardly ever seen in today's distraction-filled culture.

Now consider the fact that our brains  are essentially hard-wired to be easily distracted, and you can see why having the ability to offer others your undivided presence is always guaranteed to multiply your magnetic potential.

Case in point: Former President Bill Clinton is said to have a presence so powerful, it makes everyone he addresses feel like they're the only person in the room.

Even Clinton's staunchest opponents have admitted, 'Bill Clinton - I hated him before I met him; I hated him after I met him; But while I met him ... I absolutely loved the man!'

(Read my article about having a charismatic presence with women here)

Moral of the Story: Being present - paying attention to what‘s going on rather than being caught up in your thoughts - can yield immense rewards. When you exhibit presence, those around you feel listened to, respected and valued.

Charisma Killer #3: You Interrupt People

Attend any run-of-the-mill seminar on sales, persuasion or becoming a person of influence and you'll be sure to have this lesson on day one - never interrupt the other person.

Case in point: My friend Jill Mirante works with special needs children. She pretty much has the patience of Job - and that's a big plus when dealing with a pain-in-the-ass like me. But in spite of all that, she absolutely hates being interrupted when she's speaking.

Know who else hates being interrupted? Everyone on the planet.

Not only does being the kind of person who interrupts people make you supremely obnoxious, but do it enough,  and you'll essentially be sending the message that what the other person has to say isn't worth listening to - or hearing.

Moral of the Story: Unless you're the kind of person who enjoys spending lots of time by yourself - you'll stop interrupting people ... immediately.

Charisma Killer #4: You Can't Stop Making Other People Wrong

Of all of the most common barriers to charisma, this one is easily the most seductive.

It's a simple fact that human beings love to be right.

And decades of behavioral research have proven that once we make up our minds about a person, we'll go out of our way to prove ourselves right (This explains why first impressions are so powerful).

(See my article on how to guarantee a great first impression here)

Case in point: When I first met Aaron, he was everything I expected a successful 24 year-old sales professional to be. He wasn't just extremely likable, he also resonated the kind of positive energy that fed great vibes to everyone around him.

Unfortunately, Aaron's glaring achilles heel was that whenever he felt like someone had wronged him on the job, he'd end up taking it personally ... and it showed.

His usual friendly and upbeat demeanor would give way to a sad little scowl and a dismal vibe that felt like it might actually drain you if you were standing too close.

It wasn't long before this habit had gotten him reprimanded for arguing with a fellow employee. He'd even been sent home early - an extremely rare occurrence among top sales performers.

So how did I bring the old Aaron back? By simply making him aware of what needing to be right - (and make someone else wrong) - was costing him.

"Tell me something Aaron ... Would  you rather be right, or would you rather be rich?"

A huge smile flashed across his face. 'Rich, Petey. I'd rather be Rich!'

Moral of the story: In 1936 Dale Carnegie first espoused the timeless wisdom: 'Never tell the other person that they're wrong'. Like I explain in this video, avoiding the powerful seduction of needing to be right, or worse - needing to make someone else wrong - is an essential component in enhancing your charisma.

(For my simple 3-step process on how to break the habit of making other people wrong, click here).

Charisma Killer #5: You're Still Too Afraid To Be Yourself

Let's face it - we live in an era where everyone and their mother is all about the business of 'looking good'. The only problem with such a pursuit is that it often comes at the expense of us being our most authentic selves. Taken too far, we can end up looking downright inauthentic - an absolute killer when it comes to charisma.

Case in point: UFC women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey is a supremely outspoken chick who will always say exactly what's on her mind (no matter how many people it offends).

But as abrasive as Ronda can be, she's never bothered trying to convince the public that she's anything other than who she is.

And while one might think it's hurt her mainstream appeal, the reality has been just the opposite - It's taken her less than 16 months to become the biggest name in the sport of Mixed Martial Arts.

Ronda Rousey

Ronda Rousey has always been - and will always be - a straight shooter who'll tell you exactly what she thinks. Love her or hate her, Ronda Rousey's indisputable charm is deeply rooted in her ability to be exactly who and what she is ... with zero apologies.

Moral of the story: When you‘re perceived as disingenuous, it‘s virtually impossible to generate trust, rapport, or loyalty. And it‘s impossible to be charismatic.

Remember - Your Charismatic Ability is Not Really About You

Understand that charisma is 10% how you make people feel about you, and 90% how you make them feel about themselves. When it comes to winning friends and influencing people, avoiding these 5 pervasive pitfalls will put you miles ahead of the game.

6 Qualities of Charismatic People

Webster's dictionary defines the word charisma as 'Compelling attractiveness or charm that can inspire devotion in others.' It then goes on to offer a second definition of the word: 'A divinely conferred power or talent.'

Well then, I'm certainly glad we got that all cleared up.

For the handful of people who actually understand charisma - what it means, and more importantly, the unmistakable advantages it confers - one thing is certain:

What makes charisma so rare and elusive is that its very essence is rooted in a near-complete reversal of the way most of us are programmed to behave.

In this article, I've isolated six key qualities that make up charisma in all its forms.

First, I'll describe each key quality in its purest form. Then, I'll offer you specific insight on how you can apply the principles of each of these qualities of charismatic masters in your own life.

Quality #1: Charismatic People Have a Powerful, Other-Worldy Presence

Study charismatic masters as disparate as Marilyn Monroe and the Dalai Lama, and what you'll notice is that they all have this in common. A magnetic, almost other-worldly presence.

Now here's where the reversal of common patterns of behavior comes in. Most of us have been fooled into believing that presence is something we have.

It's not. Presence is something we give.

So what makes presence such an elusive quality in human beings? The answer is two-fold.

First, the human brain evolved over millions of years with one prime directive in mind - survival. That essentially means that our brains are hard-wired for distraction; Constantly scanning the environment for - and then locking onto - novel stimuli. After all, a few thousand years ago, those novel stimuli were often a warning that something was about to eat us.

Second, our society and culture encourage distraction. In their book 'Positioning' authors Al Ries and Jack Trout proclaim that 'we're living in history's first over-communicated society'.

That was in 1981 ... Decades before Facebook, Twitter and Smartphones!

With so much distraction in the environment, and a brain that's hard-wired to be highly distractable, is it any wonder why we feel so disconnected (even from the people sitting across the dinner table)?

Instant Charisma Tip: The very next time you‘re in a conversation, try to regularly check whether your mind is fully engaged or whether it is wandering elsewhere (including preparing your next sentence). Aim to bring yourself back to the present moment as often as you can by focusing on your toes for just a second, and then get back to focusing on the other person (This simple technique works wonders!).

Quality #2: Charismatic People are Externally Focused Most of the Time

This quality is an absolute pillar of charismatic masters. While the majority of us scramble throughout the rat-race of life trying to become the center of attention - constantly obsessed with the way we're perceived by others, the charismatic master overcomes this internally-focused sense of insecurity by becoming purely focused on others.

Charismatic masters make everyone feel like the most important person in the room.

In 5 years of researching charisma, one name would come up again and again whenever the topic of presence was raised - that of former President Bill Clinton.

It's been said that Clinton's charismatic presence - communicated primarily by his eye contact and body language - was so powerful that it made anyone he addressed feel like they were the only person in the room.

In her book, 'The Charisma Myth', Olivia Fox breaks down Clinton's style of 'Focus Charisma', noting the essential role that eye contact plays in conveying a powerful sense of magnetism.

When it comes to Charisma - The Eyes Have It

Eye contact is one of the main ways charismatic masters make you feel that you are the most important person in the room. Profound eye contact can communicate empathy and give an impression of thoughtfulness, wisdom, and intelligence. You simply cannot be charismatic without it.

Instant Charisma Tip: Two of the most common eye-contact issues people have are lack of eye contact due to shyness and lack of eye contact due to distraction. Either one can ruin your charisma potential, so practice holding eye contact with people longer. Start with your friends. Then start giving more eye contact to strangers. Do this for just a few weeks, and you'll have created a new habit that will skyrocket your magnetic potential.

Note: If you're a man meeting eyes with a woman, always try to let her look away before you do (This one will be very tough at first - but trust me - stick with it, and the rewards will be immense).

Quality #3: Charismatic People Are The World's Greatest Listeners

Charismatic masters - no matter their background - are bound by this simple pretext: They're the world's greatest listeners. And why would a modern charismatic be so adept at the lost art of listening?

Because believe it or not - listening is all it takes to show the other person they're important.

Always do at least 80% of the listening

Make a committed effort to listen at least 70-80% more than you speak. When you do speak, never offer advice unless you're asked. Listening shows you care a lot more than offering advice, because in most cases, offering advice ends up making the conversation about you, not them.

Only speak when you have something important to say - and always define 'important' as what matters to the other person, not to you.

Hold that thought - even if it kills you

Good listeners know never, ever to interrupt - not even if the impulse to do so comes from excitement about something the other person just said. No matter how congratulatory and warm your input, it will always result in their feeling at least a hint of resentment or frustration at not having been allowed to complete their sentence.

Instant Charisma Tip: Master listeners know one simple but extraordinarily effective trick that will make people feel truly listened to and understood: they pause before they answer. Considered a key tool in negotiation, pausing can also play a wonderful role in making people feel good about themselves when they‘re around you - it‘s an easy way to make people feel intelligent, interesting, and even impressive.

Quality #4: Charismatic People Express a Total Acceptance of Others

In his 2001 classic 'The Art of Seduction', Robert Greene uncovers some timeless secrets of Studio-Era Hollywood's most charismatic personalities. Not least of whom was the great Errol Flynn - who despite having been accused of endless debauchery and womanizing - still managed to maintain his saintly aura in the eyes of women the world over.

His secret, according to Greene, was his amoral outlook on life. This meant that Flynn accepted every woman in his life unconditionally and without judgement. In an era where women fell under constant scrutiny, this simple quality worked some serious magic in terms of making him magnetic to others.

Instant Charisma Tip: One simple way to guarantee that you're the kind of person that people love to be around is to become the kind of charismatic master who accepts everyone as they are.

This accomplishes two remarkable things: First, the people you meet will feel instantly bonded to you as their emotional shelter in an endlessly critical world. Second, your ability to accept others exactly as they are empowers you to have the kind of influence over others that they'd never be willing to offer to someone that makes them feel wrong.

It is a universal desire of all humans to be both unconditionally accepted and understood. Being a charismatic master means you become one of the rare people that allows others feel safe enough to be themselves.

Quality #5: Charismatic People Praise Others Early and Often

While I can't claim to have ever been a natural at the all around game of charisma, I can honestly lay claim to getting this one right. As an event planner/promoter in some of Chicago's busiest nightclubs, this was one of my best trade secrets.

(Discover my 'Instant Charisma' technique to become the most unforgettable person in the room here)

As body language expert Allan Pease noted, upon meeting someone for the first time, offering them a sincere compliment meant that they'd actually remember you as taller, thinner and younger!

This crazy but true statistic has been proven in numerous studies since, and yes - I still make it an automatic habit to offer sincere praise to everyone I meet. It's a virtually guaranteed means of always making an unforgettable first impression.

Instant Charisma Tip: You can dramatically increase your charisma IQ by learning the right way to give a compliment. You do this by simply observing what it is that they already want to be complimented on. (Learn my 'clever compliment' technique here).

Quality #6: Charismatic People Have an Unwavering Sense of Purpose

One quality that can truly make someone magnetic is the genuine ability to detach one's self from the opinions of others. The only way a creature as socially-calibrated as a human being accomplishes such a feat is through an unwavering sense of purpose.

Charismatic masters carry around an unmistakable passion for life. 

Whether they are saviors or troublemakers, they radiate a passion that triggers powerful emotions in those around them. Even in seemingly negative emotions like anger, they make people feel compelled to join their cause. They also exude an obvious pleasure in life experiences, all the while inviting others to share in the experience they're having.

Instant Charisma Tip: You can enhance your charisma by sharing what you're truly passionate about with the people around you. People who are vision-inspired and purpose-driven are magnetic to others because they understand that while no one gives a damn about your goals, everyone is yearning to be part of a vision. 

Maximize Your Own Magnetic Potential: Practice Makes Perfect

Maximizing your own charismatic presence is going to come down to a delicate balance between being true to your own nature and stretching out of your usual comfort zones. As you practice cultivating these six qualities, they will gradually become a part of who you are rather than just a set of skills you‘re learning.


© 2014 / Charisma, Inc.