SXSW - wow. Somewhere between eating every hour of the day and getting our heads 3D printed onto Lego figurines, we attended some really meaningful sessions. I want to talk about one of my favorites.
Digital Body Language, led by the amazing and captivating Vanessa Van Edwards, was packed with lessons for professional and personal life on making first impressions in person and in digital form. Her ten laws of digital human behavior are evidence-based (my favorite) and grounded in adaptive behaviors across human evolution (my favorite x2). Here are a few take aways you need to know - for your next interview and for your next dating profile.
What are three words that would come from your ideal first impression of yourself? Now, open your Linkedin, Facebook, or professional or personal website. What are the first three words you think of? There’s often discongruence here, meaning that our digital branding is not effective.
Microexpressions are involuntary responses during an intense emotional feeling. There are seven universal microexpressions: contempt, disgust, anger, fear, sadness, happiness, and surprise. These microexpressions flash by in under a quarter of a second.
To avoid sharing “contempt”, watch out for smirking and turning away.
People can easily detect microexpressions of happiness - and separate genuinity (crows feet around the eyes, raised cheeks, lips drawn up and back) from posing and fake smiling. In fact, the smile is the only microexpression that can be seen from a distance; that’s a survival mechanism to identify if someone approaching is friend or foe.
As a survival mechanism, when in fear and threatened, we open our eyes wide to extend our peripheral vision and open our mouths to bring more oxygen into our bodies. For this reason, when we see the upper whites of the eye in a photo, we interpret fear.
In one study, participants were asked to rate CEOs based on the below photos. Participant ratings were accurately correlated with CEO profits (Rule and Ambady, 2008).
Given a view of the entire body, hands are the part of the body that we notice first. This is a survival mechanism ; hands are trust indicators, showing that the other person holds no weapon and or malicious intent. Defendants who keep their hands under the table are seen as more sneaky and untrustworthy. If you’re doing a webinar, push the computer back so your hands can be seen above the table.
Van Edwards went on to discuss the Five Factor Model of personality, color psychology, and power posing (take photos from below to convey authority!). We even ran our Facebooks under this algorithm to check out what the language in our Facebook posts showed about our personalities.
Check out more of her work on how to increase your own social influence.