… to decide whether you like or trust the person, say researchers. Snap judgments happen without conscious thought. Yet another part of the study has scarier implications for forging relationships. When participants were given more time to describe their reactions they were:
• Slightly more negative than those given less time.
• More certain that they were right in their quick judgment.
“generally seen by others as they see themselves.”
How to Cultivate Friendship and Attract Support
From these findings, for a first meeting to flourish, in person or online, into a positive relationship, two people must feel positive about each other upfront and over time during that first “meeting”. Only then can you enjoy the Positively Mutually-Reinforcing Effect. That’s when we prove each other right – that we are trustworthy and likeable – for each other.
Since no human interactions are neutral, the alternative is the Negatively Mutually-Reinforcing Effect. That’s when one or both us don’t like or trust each other at first. Consequently we become self-protective and spiral down in the mutually-reinforcing behaviors that prove ourselves right.
People Like People Who Like Them
How to start out on the right foot in person? From other research here’s a counter-intuitive discovery. Most of us, when meeting someone we think is important to us, attempt to appear likeable, important and trustworthy. Our behavior is often self-referencing. Yet the best way for others to like you is for them to like the way they are when around you.
If they don’t like the way they act and feel when around you, they project onto you the qualities they most dislike – even if you haven’t demonstrated you have those traits. They are inclined to sabotage you – even if such behavior also damages them.
Alternatively, if they like the way they are when around you, they see in you the qualities they most admire. Yep. Even if you’ve not (yet) demonstrated that you have those wonderful qualities. Plus they’ll go out of their way to speak well of you and help you, even to their own detriment.
So, for an easier, more joyful life – with others – make it a habit when you first meet someone to search for the quality in that person you most like and admire. Focus your attention on that trait, not something that bothers you. Your positive feeling will be reflected in your face, body language and tone. Speak to that positive view. In so doing, you are most likely to instigate a pleasant interaction at the least and, at the most, a healthy give-and-take friendship. Then explore more ways to deepen that connection.