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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Factors That Influence Us When We Meet With Others

Whenever we meet with someone, their are some aspects about the person that picked up by us. The total process is done by us unintentionally. We, in many cases, have less control in this situation.

I have prepared a list which contains the factors that influence us when we meet with others:

1. Appearance, which includes
  • Clothes
  • Adornments
  • Body piercing and tattoos
  • Hygiene – smell
  • Clean/dirty
2. Body Language, which includes
  • Eye contact
  • Handshake
  • Posture
  • Facial expressions
3. Voice, which includes
  • Accent
  • Tone of voice
  • Pitch and pace of voice
  • Enthusiasm in the voice
4. Words: Our Vocabulary – the actual words we choose to use.

5. Age

6. Size

7. Height

8. Gender

9. Race

10. Religion

11. Culture

12. Disability

13. Behavior:
Yours and the other person’s
  • Manners
  • Attitude
  • Aggressiveness
  • Submissiveness
  • Assertiveness
14. Personality

15. Preconceived ideas about that person

16. Situation and location

17. Prejudices – yours and theirs

18. Education

19. Upbringing

20. Experiences

21. Status of the other person

It’s quite a list, isn’t it? And perhaps you came up with more! Looking at this is it no wonder we have ‘communication breakdowns?’ Perhaps you can also begin to see the logic of me saying that communication begins and ends with you.

In order to influence others you need to:
  • plan how to interact with the other person
  • have a greater awareness of other people
  • be more sensitive towards their emotions and attitudes
  • carefully observe other people
  • have a greater self-knowledge
First impressions can often be the wrong impression

When we meet someone we make a decision about that person within the space of milliseconds. That decision can be terribly flawed because it can be influenced by many of the factors previously stated. How many times have you seen someone on your television, or heard them on the radio, and immediately thought ’That person really irritates me’, or ‘I don’t like that person because he’s got a beard and I don’t like men with beards’, (no offense intended towards men with beards) or ‘Her voice really grates on me, I don’t like her’.

You’ve never met this person and yet you have formed an opinion about them based on what you see and hear and your own preconceived ideas. The person you ‘hate’, or to put it less strongly, you ‘dislike’ may in fact be a very warm, kind, loving individual who, if you are given the opportunity to meet, you might actually like!

Politicians know the strength of this kind of reaction and often they change the way they speak, look and behave in order to win votes. Margaret Thatcher, one time Prime Minister of Great Britain, lowered her voice and slowed down the pace of her speech to make her sound more authoritative and more caring. This is why actors sometimes make good politicians: because they are able to ‘play the part’ using their acting skills. These days votes aren’t necessarily won on who has the best policies but who looks and sounds the best, or who appears the most sincere, trustworthy, honest …

I am not advocating that politicians dupe people or that they, or you, set out to do the same just that you need to be fully aware of the power of external impressions on communicating an image.