The human brain is hardwired to judge. This survival mechanism makes it very hard to meet someone without evaluating and interpreting their behavior.
While we tend to think that our judgments are based on the content of conversations and other obvious behaviors, the research says otherwise. In fact, the majority of our judgments are focused on smaller, subtler things, such as handshakes and body language. We often form complete opinions about people based solely on these behaviors.
1. HOW YOU TREAT WAITERS AND RECEPTIONISTS.
How you treat support staff is so indicative of your makeup that it has become a common interview tactic. By gauging how you interact with support staff on your way in and out of the building, interviewers get a sense for how you treat people in general. No matter how nice you are to the people you have lunch with, it’s all for naught if those people witness you behaving badly toward others.
2. HOW OFTEN YOU CHECK YOUR PHONE.
There’s nothing more frustrating than someone pulling out their phone mid-conversation. Doing so conveys a lack of respect, attention, listening skills, and willpower. Unless it’s an emergency, it’s wise to keep your phone holstered. Pulling out your phone during a conversation lowers both the quality and quantity of face-to-face interactions.
3. REPETITIVE, NERVOUS HABITS.
Touching your nails or face or picking at your skin typically indicates that you’re nervous, overwhelmed, and not in control. Research from the University of Michigan suggests that these nervous habits are indicative of a perfectionistic personality, and that perfectionists are more likely to engage in these habits when they’re frustrated or bored.
4. HOW LONG YOU TAKE TO ASK QUESTIONS.
Have you ever had a conversation with someone where they talked about themselves the entire time? The amount of time someone allows to pass before they take an interest in you is a strong personality indicator. People who only talk about themselves tend to be loud, self-absorbed “takers.” People who only ask questions and share little about themselves are usually quiet, humble “givers.” Those who strike a nice balance of give-and-take are reciprocators and good conversationalists.
5. YOUR HANDSHAKE.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, but your handshake can exude confidence or weakness. You can also determine a lot about how introverted or extroverted a person is based on the strength of their handshakes.
According to one study, people with small, meticulous handwriting come off as shy, where as people with larger, sloppier handwriting appear more outgoing. They also found people who were careful about how their writing appeared and wrote slowly were more empathic and sensitive.
7. EYE CONTACT.
The key to eye contact is balance. While it’s important to maintain eye contact, doing so 100% of the time is perceived as aggressive and creepy. At the same time, if you only maintain eye contact for a small portion of the conversation, you’ll come across as disinterested, shy, or embarrassed. Studies show that maintaining eye contact for roughly 60% of a conversation strikes the right balance and makes you come across as interested, friendly, and trustworthy.
BRINGING IT ALL TOGETHER
Sometimes the little things in life make a big difference. It’s good to be ready for them, so that you can make a strong impression.