Friday, July 3, 2015

Brain and 1st Impressions, Part 5

Studies have shown that a person's thinking becomes more abstract when the individual adopts formal, polite language. Turn out a similar thing happens when people put on formal clothing. Findings from a study led by Michael L. Slepian of Columbia University discovered that the nature of an everyday and ecologically valid experience, the type of clothing worn, influences cognition broadly, impacting the processing style that changes how objects, people, and events are construed. (Abstract thinking facilitates the pursuit of long-term goals over short-term gains; saving versus spending, for example.) Research participants wearing formal attire scored 5.04 on a 1-to-10 scale of a type of thought process that measures abstract thinking, versus 3.99 for those wearing casual clothing. My brain’s opinion is that this is just another example of the way in which ‘everything starts in the brain.’ It’s not only the brains of others that are impacted by your appearance, your own brain is, too! Thinking about how you are impressing your own brain may be a new concept. But you may want to pay attention, seeing as it can impact even the way your brain functions . . .

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Brain and 1st Impressions, Part 4

Other nonverbals also contribute to the first impression you make. When you look directly at the other person’s eyes, your energy and openness are communicated. If you’re not skilled at doing this, just train yourself to look directly at the other individual’s eyes and note his or her eye color. Their brain will sense your brain’s attitude so decide in advance the attitude you want to project: negative or positive, insecure or confident, disaffirming or affirming, powerless or powerful, bored or interesting, incompetent or competent. Some say that status and power are nonverbally conveyed by the use of height and space. Standing tall (even if you’re short), pulling your shoulders back, and holding your head up are signals of confidence and competence. You have 1/10th of a second in which to make an initial impression—likely reinforced in the next 6 and 9/10th seconds—but if you know what you’re doing that’s all you need to make a positive and memorable impression.” How does your appearance make an impression your own brain? Part 5 tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Brain and 1st Impressions, Part 3

In this time of new or unusual infectious diseases, the question for some is whether to ‘shake or not to shake.’ We’re talking ‘hands’ here, of course. Studies have shown that the fastest and most effective way to establish rapport is to shake hands. It can take an average of three hours of continuous interaction to achieve the same level of rapport you can get with a handshake. So what do you do? Some people are moving to the ‘fist bump.’ It’s interesting to see how quickly another brain picks up on that move and responds. Handshaking is still likely the gold standard in many parts of the world so I simply carry a little bottle of hand disinfectant—after a spate of handshaking I use a shot of disinfectant and I’m good to go. Leaning in slightly, while you are shaking or bumping, can indicate that you’re engaged or interested in the connection—as long as you respect the other person’s personal space. The generally recognized average comfortable ‘space’ zone is about two (2) feet.  Part 4 tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Brain and 1st Impressions, Part 2

First impressions are more heavily influenced by nonverbal cues—they are estimated to have over four times the impact on the impression you make than by what you say. You are ‘selling yourself’ all the time in a sense. That’s just another way of saying that the impression you make on others can have ramifications for years to come. The ‘universal sign’ of acknowledgement is said to be the ‘eyebrow flash.’ You can raise an eyebrow slightly or open your eyes a bit more than normal to simulate the ‘eyebrow flash.’ No surprise, smiling is another positive nonverbal. A genuine smile indicates friendliness, approachability, and an invitation to converse. (Of course raising an eyebrow or offering a genuine smile is predicated on whether or not one’s face lift or Botox injections permit that much facial movement. If not, you’ll need to rely more on how you dress and other nonverbals such as the amount of warmth in your tone of voice or the quality of your handshake.) Part 3 tomorrow.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Brain and 1st Impressions

You’ve no doubt heard that you have a mere 7 seconds in which an interviewer or a stranger will form an impression of you, an impression that is nearly indelible. Or is it 3 seconds? Take a deep breath: research indicates that you need to have your act together in the blink of an eye, in about 1/10 of a second. The brain appears hard wired to make hundreds if not thousands of lightening-speed computations when you meet another individual for the first time. Some say: ‘You never have a second chance to make a good first impression professionally and rarely have a second chance to make a good first impression on a personal level.’ In this, the Era of the Brain, you may want to revisit this topic. You may be going for a job interview or looking for a good pal if not a life partner or you may be retired and wanting a friend. Assuming you pass muster in that first 1/10 of a second, what else can you do to reinforce a positive impression? Part 2 tomorrow.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Torre di Pisa – and Brain Perception

When I first see something in person (as compared to pictures—the ones that induced me to add that something to my bucket list), it sometimes seems less impressive. Other times, it far exceeds my expectations. The Leaning Tower of Pisa falls into the latter category. Pisa, the capital city of the Province of Pisa in Italy, is perhaps best known worldwide for the bell tower of the city’s cathedral. And, yes, it definitely is leaning. Its weight is estimated at 15,000 tons. The tower has 296 or 294 steps (the seventh floor has two fewer steps on the north-facing staircase). Prior to restoration work done
between 1990 and 2001, the tower reportedly leaned at an angle of 5.5 degrees but it now leans at about 3.99 degrees. The top of the tower is displaced horizontally 3.9 meters (12 ft 10 in) from where it would be if the tower were perfectly vertical. What a treat for me and my brain to see it up close and personal!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Pliny the Elder – to the Rescue

In my June 2nd blog, I recounted the old story about two painters and their trompe l’oeil competition. While visiting Pompeii I learned more. It seems that Gaius Plinius Secundus (Pliny the Elder) A.D. 23–79, Roman naturalist, encyclopedist, and writer, included that story in his work entitled “Naturalis Historia.” The date of his death (A.D. 79) intrigued me as that was the date Vesuvius spouted the ash that buried the Roman sea-port of Pompeii. A little more investigation revealed that his nephew, named Pliny the Younger, wrote an account that was discovered in the 16th Century. Pliny the Elder had noticed the cloud spouting from one of the mountains. Unsure which mountain was involved he had decided to sail from Misenum toward the Herculaneum-Pompeii coast line to investigate. Just prior to sailing, he had been handed a message from Rectina, wife of Tascus, whose house was at the foot of Mt. Vesuvius, imploring Pliny the Elder to rescue her by sea (as escape by land was impossible). So he made for Pompeii. The enjoyed reading the account by his nephew (who became a lawyer at age 19). You may, too.