If you’re worried about making a good impression, you can be damn sure that you’re not! You see, the normal mind is split – part of you is there with whoever you’re trying to impress, part of you is thinking that you’re not as impressive as you would like to be and part of you is evaluating whether or not you’re living down to your expectations. And that’s on a good day! That assumes that you’re wide awake enough to even realize that it might be a good idea to make a good impression!
The average adult mind is, as you might be beginning to appreciate, all over the place. Our conscious mind is constantly wandering. Something useless or stupid crosses your mind every couple of seconds – it’s a scientific fact that the normal adult is peppered with about 50,000 such thoughts every single day. So, for starters, whilst you’re trying to make your good impression, your mind is trying to distract you.
But that’s only the start of it. What you’re blissfully (clearly not the right word) unaware of is that your subconscious mind is focused on something else entirely while you think you’re doing your best to make that good impression. The average adult mind is stuck in the past – your formative years to be precise. So, when you walked into that interview, stood up on stage to make that presentation or sidled over to that attractive person at the bar, your subconscious was jumping through hoops to enable you make a complete nonsense of what is actually going on before your very eyes.
Here’s how it works. For simplicity’s sake, let’s suppose that you’re doing a job interview. You walk into the room and meet this person for the very first time. Your subconscious makes up your mind about what it thinks of this new person in four seconds. Of course, in four seconds you’ve no evidence whatsoever on what to base your evaluation of this new person. But that doesn’t matter to the subconscious mind! It will use the pigeonholes that it’s been using since you were a couple of years old to make up your mind for you. By way of example, you’re introduced to Sarah, your subconscious mind says to itself “Ah, Sarah reminds me of my sister-in-law and I certainly don’t like her, so I don’t like Sarah!” Of course, you won’t have liked your sister-in-law in the first place because your subconscious will have pigeonholed her with others you didn’t like, all the way back to the girl that was mean to you at your 3rd birthday party. So, immediately you’re off on the wrong foot – bearing in mind that if you took an instant like to the new person you’ve just met you still wouldn’t be seeing them for who they really are.
Next, your subconscious will dictate your behaviour. Bear in mind that effectiveness in communication comes from body language (56%), tone of voice (36%) and the words you actually use only account for 8% of the impact that you make. Now, ask yourself this – when do I consciously think about my tone of voice or body language? You don’t it all happens automatically and it’s your subconscious mind’s doing. It will look back through its “files” (recollections of how you behaved with new people you met during your childhood – in particular towards that nasty girl at the party!) and create the very same behaviour now – and there’s nothing you can do about it. Or is there?
You know how people with presence are impressive? How they make a good impression? Well presence isn’t something that only some people have – you’ve got presence if you could only be more present!! What that means is that you need to tear your mind’s attention away from your 3rd birthday party! You need to stop it in its tracks when it starts focusing on your sister-in-law! And certainly want it to stop analyzing (subconsciously) how it thinks you’re doing. In other words, you need to redirect your attention to what is actually going on in the here and now. You need to be more present, in the present – that’s all presence is.
Of course, you will not succeed in doing any of this if you haven’t practiced and trained yourself before it really matters – like in that interview, on the podium or at the bar. Presence comes naturally to the trained mind. You need a little advance training. You need to set aside a few minutes most days to practice being present. Now what, in God’s name does that actually mean in practical terms?
You become present by paying attention to the here and now through your five senses – a skill we all had when we were small children. You need to set time aside, perhaps just five minutes each day, to see, feel, hear, smell and taste where you are. Not to see a car go past and start thinking “I’d look good in one of those!” Not to feel a breeze on your face and say to yourself “I have to get in out of the cold!” No – you need to simply experience each sense as it comes to you and then let it pass on. This artificial “mental exercise” will heighten your ability to pay attention to the present. In doing so, it will drag your subconscious attention away from the past and it will stop your conscious mind wandering off on a tangent.
By paying attention to the here and now you become more present – which means you have presence, which makes you more impressive to all the other people who are not all there. Now that’s the way to make a great impression.
Willie Horton has been enabling his clients live their dream since he launched is now acclaimed two-day Personal Development Seminars all the way back in 1996. His clients include top leaders in major corporations such as Pfizer, Deloitte, Nestle, Merrill Lynch, KPMG, G4S and Allergan together with everyone from the stay-at-home parent to sports-people. An Irish ex-banker and published author he now lives in the French Alps from where he travels the world as a much sought after motivational speaker and mentor. All his work, his weekly Free Personal Development Ezine videos and articles, together with his highly-acclaimed Personal Development Workshops are online at Gurdy.Net