You meet someone for the first time and perhaps they don't smile, or lean forward or make significant eye contact. Is it you? If you worry about your first impression, you may start to freak out. You don't have to. I am doing research on the brain and how people can make changes in their body language. Self Awareness, discovering what people might think about you is productive, but you don’t need to go overboard.
Years ago my audiences joked that after my seminars they were so self aware, so conscious of all the cues in the perfect handshake, the most sincere smile and all the other body language they learned, they didn't know what to do first. Now and then we talked about how to implement personal behavioral changes into their lives. I was reading the book, "The Mind and The Brain." looking to see how one of the authors, Doctor Jeffery Schwartz, advised his OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) patients to make productive changes in their behavior. I was looking for a method to effectively calm any destructive or paralyzing self consciousness about your first impression. To paraphrase he instructed his patients to follow the Buddhist philosophy of wise attention (as supposed to unwise attention.) Schwartz advises his patients to "Revalue." See things for what they really are rather than as you may imagine them to be. I interpret this to mean. Instead of thinking, "Don't think of pink elephants." "Oh my God, there may be dangerous pink elephants." "Think instead of what is real and what isn’t.”Pink elephants don't exist." "The likelihood of a Pink Elephant coming into this room and stomping me is nil."
Apply this to situations when you are forming a first impression. Instead of meeting someone and thinking, "They didn't smile, they didn't lean forward." "They hate me!" "They are not making eye contact.”Oh they must think I am the biggest dork." See those disturbing thoughts for what they are and as Schwartz says, for his OCD patients he says "Wise attention means quickly recognizing the disturbing thoughts as senseless, as false, as errant brain signals not even worth the gray matter they rode in on, let alone acting on it." In analyzing someone’s behavior towards you in a first encounter instead assess it wisely. Think first the person then the topic or situation. Lastly think of yourself. Here is in more detail
First ask yourself, “What is going on with this person that may be motivating him to act this way?"
Then, what about this situation or what we are talking about may motivate him to act this way and finally, and with the least likelihood, what about I could make him act this way.
Very good advice I think.
Patti Wood, MA, Certified Speaking Professional - The Body Language Expert. For more body language insights go to her website at http://pattiwood.net/. Also check out the body language quiz on her YouTube Channel at http://youtube.com/user/bodylanguageexpert.