Make a Good First Impression by Assuming That Someone Already Likes You

First impressions can be a lot of pressure. Usually the goal is to please the other person, and nervousness can have the opposite effect. For a calmer, warmer first impression, assume that the person already likes you.

This is called social optimism or prophecy of acceptance , and research confirms that it is effective for creating good first impressions. In a study titled Deconstructing the Realm of Error, researchers hypothesized that people behave more friendly and welcoming when they expect to be accepted. In turn, they exhibit behaviors that actually lead to their acceptance. To test this, they studied a group of men and women and their interactions with first impressions. They convinced one group of men that there was less risk of rejection, and then studied the behavior of men and asked women what they thought. Ultimately, this is what they did:

… we tested our hypothesis that a thin patch of warmth is enough to explain the relationship between expected acceptance and actual acceptance. The results strongly supported this hypothesis, demonstrating the interpersonal power of warmth and friendliness.

Keep in mind that this is one small study and that it focuses on one specific type of interaction. However, the conclusion makes sense: if you don’t worry about being disliked, you are likely to be much more relaxed, calm, and optimistic. In general, people respond better to this behavior .

Of course, like any other advice, this one can also go too far. If you do or say something that the other person doesn’t like, he or she will probably dislike you even more if you ignore it and pretend that he loves you and everything you do. Rather, it’s advice to ease your nervousness and force yourself to open up in the first place.

And this not only makes a good first impression, but it just helps to improve your well-being. If first impressions bother you, approaching them as if the person already likes you is a good way to stay calm. See for yourself.

Deconstructing the Realm of Errors: Interpersonal Warmth Explains Self-fulfilling Prophecy of Expected Acceptance | Wilfrid Laurier University via Barking at the Wrong Tree


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