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All things Pharma

Creating the right impression, part 5

Personal Image Expert Sarah Setterfield, Pf’s answer to Gok Wan, looks at the seven-second rule, the drawbacks of reliance on email and why being brilliant isn’t enough.

Welcome to March’s blog and hopefully the start of spring!

Would you pass ‘the seven-­second test’?

It takes only seven seconds for us to judge another person when we first meet them. It’s not a conscious process, so we don’t even realise we’re doing it – but it goes back to our primitive roots when we couldn’t afford to make wrong decisions. We subconsciously judge people within the first seven seconds of meeting them. Because we tend to be time-poor, we use assumption as a short-cut, meaning if you don’t get it right first time you might not get another chance.

Although we instantly judge others, we slip up on signals we give out, meaning we lose ground by arriving at business or social events looking dour, anxious, shy or hostile, usually without realising it. We’re happy to warm up as we go along, but we should put in some effort to hit the ground running – defining who we are and what we’re like accurately at first meeting.

Here’s a ten-point guide to passing the seven-second test:

1. Take a moment before you meet other people. Check your appearance and breathe out gently to remove tension and calm any nerves caused by ­shyness or anxiety.

2. Pull yourself up to full height because it will make you look confident, and relax ­muscle tension that can make you appear stressed.

3. Don’t forget to turn your phone off or to silent.

4. Smile! When you smile at someone they will usually smile back, so it’s the perfect way to strike a rapport. But make sure your smile is real. A natural smile will fade slowly: switch it on too fast or let it drop too soon and it doesn’t feel sincere.

5. Make sure you have your bag/keys/briefcase in your left hand so that your right is free for handshakes. A University of Iowa study found a solid handshake is more important than dress or appearance when establishing an impression in an interview.

6. If you look grim, unhappy or anxious, people will assume that’s how you are.

7. Be interested in the other person. Don’t invade their ­personal space. A friendly but non-threatening distance to stand from someone is at about arm’s length.

8. Use open gestures, rather than folding your arms or crossing your legs.

9. Observe the person you’re speaking to and mirror the amount of eye contact they make and their speaking volume and speed.

10. Finally, ensure your appearance suits the occasion.

Being brilliant isn’t enough!

You may already have noticed that being brilliant, the best or even working harder than anyone else is not enough to help you be successful in your chosen career these days. There is even research to show that only 10% of career success is down to ‘doing the job’.

What makes the difference are the values you choose to operate by and how well you get those across in your attitude, visibility and exposure. So how do you come across? More importantly, how would you like to come across and is there a gap between the two?

We don’t all have the privilege of self-awareness so ask others to tell you the words that spring to mind when they think of you. Once you have that information, work on the gaps. Be clear about the way you look, sound and behave. How can you add value to people around you and therefore ultimately to your own reputation?

Being brilliant isn’t enough…but having a good reputation is!

Why email is not always a blessing*

Some facts and figures worth considering in a time when so much of our communication is done via the computer.

· You check more than you think you do. Research revealed that although a group of people claimed to check their emails once an hour, secret cameras showed it was actually every five minutes. One study showed workers spent 23% of their day dealing with emails.

· Many use email as a ways of juggling tasks. One study in 2004 showed workers juggling 65 tasks in 10 different spheres.

· Studies show that 70% of emails are responded to within six seconds of arrival and 85% within two minutes. It takes 64 seconds to recover from the distraction of an incoming email.

· Emotional content doesn’t translate. Studies have shown that we consistently overestimate how well we communicate through email. One study showed that people thought sarcasm would be correctly interpreted 80% of the time – which is true face-to-face, but dropped to 56% of the time through email. Anger, sadness, seriousness and humour are all hard to share without accompanying tone of voice and body language.

· People tend to be more negative when communicating through email than they are in other media. Email also encourages dishonesty with 50% more lies compared to pen-and-paper.

· Email builds very little rapport – so in negotiation there’s little else to fall back on. One study showed that one phone call can create enough good feeling between parties to bridge that rapport gap.

· 59% of people check their emails from the bathroom! (60% check when on holiday.)

*Based on research reported in a recent Psyblog (Thank You Justin Collinge at Kaizen Training)

And finally…

Bland Brits only wear three colours

It would appear that boring Brits wear just three colours on a day-to-day basis, a new national study has revealed. The survey of 2,378 Brits, by laundry experts Dr. Beckmann has revealed that 63% of Brits do not venture out of their clothes comfort zone, basing our entire bore-drobe around three drab colours – black, white and grey.

Both males and females are equally affected by a lack of colour, with over half of those surveyed (54%) revealing that they totally avoid wearing bright coloured or patterned garments. Two thirds (62%) of men questioned admitted to owning a bright or patterned tie, worn to spruce up bland shirt and suit choices.

The most unpopular colours to wear are mustard (34%) and orange (29%), along with neon brights (23%) such as lime green and hot pink.

Younger people expressed a preference for less colourful items, with 82% of the under 40s age group admitting that they rarely ventured outside of their ‘safe’ colours.

The most colourful region of the UK is the midlands, with those surveyed reporting the widest array of wardrobe colours on average; whereas respondents from Wales and the South West admitted that they have on average the smallest range of colours in their wardrobe.

 Sarah Setterfield is the creator and owner of Impact For Success and one of the most experienced consultants in Personal Marketing in the UK today.

Contact the author

Tel:  01908 375371

Web: www.impact4success.com

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