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Posted in General Management, How to Make Anyone Like You in Two Minutes or Less, Life Management with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 16, 2011 by Robert Finkelstein

Along with the inspirational quotes, the beautiful images, and my own personal and business blogs, at Behind the Scenes / Virtual COO you will find the writings and videos of various thought leaders.


I f you want to make new friends or land new clients or a new job, you need to make a great first impression — fast. People form permanent opinions of those they meet within just a few minutes of setting eyes upon them. A study published in Journal of Experimental Psychology: General reported that the first impression someone has of a new acquaintance is likely to always dominate the way he/she views this acquaintance. Any later evidence that this first impression might have been erroneous tends to be dismissed as nothing more than an exception to the rule.

The trouble is, making a good first impression can be tricky. Our words, actions, facial expressions and body language all send subtle messages, often without our even realizing that we are doing it.

Below are 11 tricks for making a great first impression. Pick just one or two to try at a time, and add more when those become second nature.


Facial expression and body position can make you seem more likable to those you meet…

1. Use a slow-flooding smile. Obviously it’s a good idea to smile when you meet someone, but instantly switching on a 100-watt smile can make you seem phony. Instead, let your smile build slowly when you make eye contact. This sends the message that there is something about this person in particular that you like.

2. Have “sticky” eyes. People are inclined to like and trust those who make strong eye contact. If you are not a natural at maintaining eye contact, make it a habit to note specific characteristics about new acquaintances’ eyes — what color are they… what shape… how far apart… how long are their lashes… how often do they blink… how often do they look away while talking to you? Answering these questions will force you to make strong eye contact with the other person.

Do break eye contact occasionally — staring too intently can make people uncomfortable — but don’t do it abruptly. Break eye contact slowly, as if your gaze were stuck on this person and you find it difficult to pull it away.

3. Select an open, welcoming body position. Arrange yourself so that your torso is mostly but not completely facing the person whom you just met. During the first minute of conversation, very slowly and slightly rotate your body to completely face this person.

Exception: A man meeting a woman for the first time should stop a few degrees short of angling his upper body directly toward hers. That seems overly aggressive to some women.

If you are holding a drink or plate of hors d’oeuvres, either find a spot to set it down or hold it down by your side. If you hold it up in front of your chest, your arm will block off your body, making you seem less open. If you are self-conscious about what to do with your hands, use gestures when you talk or even put your hands in your pockets — just don’t cross your arms across your chest, which makes you seem closed off.

4. Stand with one foot a few inches forward of the other. Put most of your weight on the forward foot. This stance suggests that you’re an energetic person and are interested in the person with whom you are speaking.


Even seemingly inconsequential actions can affect how you are viewed during an initial meeting…

5. Find your conversation partner’s personal-space comfort zone. Stand too close to a new acquaintance, and you will make him feel uncomfortable. Stand too far away, and the odds increase that he will not feel a connection with you. What’s the proper distance? For the average American, it’s around 24 inches. Trouble is, that’s just an average — everyone is a little different.

The best strategy is to start a conversation with a new acquaintance by placing yourself 26 to 28 inches away. Move toward this person imperceptibly slowly until you see discomfort in his eyes. Then ease back very slightly until that discomfort disappears.

6. When you shake hands, very gently touch your forefinger to the other person’s wrist. Aim for the spot on the underside of the wrist where you would take a pulse. This is a very sensitive spot, and gently touching it tends to foster a feeling of warmth and closeness, even though your light contact might not be consciously noticed by the other person. Attempting this wrist touch also forces a deep handshake, which encourages a sense of closeness, too.

7. Treat business cards with respect. A business card symbolizes someone’s professional accomplishments. Showing respect for the card shows respect for the person. When you are handed a card, imagine that it is a delicate and precious gift. Hold it gently in your hands. Pause to read it, then carefully place it into your briefcase or purse or, at the very least, your wallet. Never just jam a card into a pocket.


A few tips for an initial conversation…

8. Begin with a conversation starter question or two. Questions that make great icebreakers include, “What do you do?” followed by “How did you decide that you wanted to do that?”… Or (to couples) “How did you two meet?”

9. Slowly nod while people speak. This sends a message of acceptance and encouragement, which makes people feel more in sync with us.

Important: Be aware that men and women can have different interpretations of nodding. Do not nod if a man is saying something with which you completely disagree. Your nodding might be interpreted as agreement. Women, however, tend to interpret nodding as meaning, “I understand,” not “I agree.”

10. Listen for words that suggest people’s interests. The words that people use and the topics that they reference, even in passing, often provide hints at their true areas of interest. If you can spot these words and topics, you can redirect dull, forgettable small-talk conversations toward things that people actually want to talk about.

Examples: If the small talk is about the weather and someone says, “At least the rain is good for my plants,” seize on the word plants and ask, “Do you have a garden?” If someone says, “It’s been too hot to walk my dogs,” seize on the word dogs and ask “What kind of dogs do you have?”

11. Use the same terms as your conversation partner. This is particularly important when discussing topics that tend to matter to a lot of people, such as their families or careers.

Examples: If a parent refers to her “child,” you should ask about her “child” as well, not her “little one” or “baby.” If someone refers to his “profession,” you should refer to it as his “profession,” not his “job” or “career.”

People tend to use the terms that their family members or closest friends use. If you use the same terms, it increases the odds that this person will feel comfortable with you.

– Leil Lowndes

If you’re interested in a complimentary 20-minute business strategy session with Robert Finkelstein, for more information, please refer to Behind the Scenes Consulting. If you have questions, please email Robert at Your comments are welcomed below. Thank you.

WORDS TO LEARN BY by John C. Maxwell

Posted in General Management, Life Management, Words to Learn By with tags , , , , , , , , on May 7, 2011 by Robert Finkelstein

Along with the inspirational quotes, the beautiful images, and my own personal and business blogs, at Behind the Scenes / Virtual COO you will find the writings and videos of various thought leaders.

WORDS TO LEARN BY by John C. Maxwell

In my years of studying leadership and evaluating leaders, I have stumbled across a leadership shortcoming that continually amazes me. Leaders will manage a team, work with the same individuals every day, yet they hardly know anything about their people! These leaders have never prioritized acquainting themselves with the dreams, thoughts, hopes, opinions and values of those they lead.

The best leaders are readers of people. They have the intuitive ability to understand others by discerning how they feel and recognizing what they sense.

I have found that leaders overestimate the amount of time and effort needed to get to know someone. In fact, in only one hour with you in private conversation, I could, probably by asking three questions, find the passion of your life:

What do you dream about?

A person’s dreams are powerful revealers of passion. When a person starts to talk about their dreams, it’s as if something bubbles up from within. Their eyes brighten, their face glows, and you can feel the excitement in their words.

What do you cry about?

Passion can be uncovered by peering into the hurts deep inside a human soul. The experience of pain or loss can be a formidably motivating force. When listening to a story of grief, you hear a voice thick with emotion, you see watery eyes flooded with feeling, and in that moment, you glimpse the intense connections between a person’s deepest pain and their greatest passion.

What makes you happy?

I have fun hearing what makes people tick and seeing the smile that comes when they talk about where they find joy. Enjoyment is an incredible energizer to the human spirit. When a person operates in an area of pleasure, they are apt to be brimming with life and exuding passion.

If you can uncover a person’s dreams, hurts and joys, you’ve discovered the central dimensions of their life. This lesson is designed to show you the types of questions that can draw out the passion inside of a person. I’ve included my own answers to give you an understanding of how the process works. Try to limit your answers to one or two words. Also, notice how each question is asked both positively (what makes you happy?) and negatively (what makes you cry?). I have found that by expressing opposite feelings and emotions, you reveal your true inner self.

To maximize this lesson, I’ll give you four easy assignments.

1. Ask yourself and answer the questions posed in the lesson. In doing so, you’ll enhance your self-awareness.
2. Share your answers with your team to allow them to learn about you.
3. Ask your team to answer the questions to encourage their self-discovery.
4. Ask your team to share their answers with one another. This practice will bring team members closer together.

What is your biggest asset?
My greatest asset is my attitude. I discovered this when I was in high school, and the coach of my basketball team appointed me as team captain at the beginning of the year.

I was surprised because I wasn’t the best player on the team. John Thomas was the best player. I was the second- or third-best player, but I wasn’t the best. I was sitting on the floor of the gymnasium with my teammates, and I think the same question was in all of our minds: Why is John Maxwell going to be the captain of the team?

Anticipating our questions, our coach gave an explanation, “Of all the players on this team, the kid with the best attitude is John Maxwell. He doesn’t get discouraged, he believes that we’ll win the game, and he’s going to be the captain of the team.”

What is your biggest liability?
My biggest liability is unrealistic expectations. As with many weaknesses, my unrealistic expectations are the Achilles’ heel of my strength.

Many years ago I quit hiring, and I have stayed away from it ever since because I’m a terrible hirer. Why? Because I naturally look for the best in people. When I see a potential employee, I see the raw talent, and I begin thinking about how I can help shape the person into a star. I’ve had numerous failures hiring lousy leaders because I convinced myself I could mold a flawed leader into a top performer.

What do you like most from others?
For me, it’s encouragement. Encouragement is the oxygen of the soul, in that it allows you to breathe. Encouragement supports and sustains leadership, especially during the hard times.

What do I like least from others?
I cannot stand people who make excuses—blamers, complainers and explainers who refuse to accept responsibility for their mistakes.

I admire a person who will admit their faults, since it shows me the inner character of that individual. I can accept another’s imperfection if they take ownership of their errors, because we’re all human, and we all fail from time to time.

What is the best thing to have?
I think the best thing to have is friends. For me, nothing compares to the joy and fulfillment of going through life with friends you can laugh with, cry with and celebrate alongside.

What is the worst thing not to have?
I can’t imagine a life without hope. Even if my health is failing or my financial situation is grim, if I have hope, I can see a way out of my difficulties.

Hope is the foundation of all change. When people come to me as leaders, and they say, “I want to create change within my organization. What should I do?” My response is the obvious answer, “You have to create hope.” Nobody changes unless they think life is going to improve. Hope is the motivation that allows people to change.

– John C. Maxwell

If you’re interested in a complimentary 30-minute business strategy session with Robert Finkelstein, for more information, please refer to Behind the Scenes Consulting. If you have questions, please email Robert at Your comments are welcomed below. Thank you.

Inspirational Quotes and Images – Updated

Posted in General Management, Inspirational Quotes and Images, Life Management with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 22, 2011 by Robert Finkelstein

“Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words. Keep your words positive because your words become your behaviors. Keep your behaviors positive because your behaviors become your habits. Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values. Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny.” – Gandhi

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Quotes and Images

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