In today's world, the pressure is always on to make a good first impression. Paying special attention to how you move and operate in the social space is not just a smart idea, but it is also critical for success.

During first encounters with people you hope to impress, there is no shortage of questions you may ask yourself: how do others perceive me? Is this body language acceptable? Am I talking about myself too much, and am I even saying the right things?

Have no fear -- new research has revealed what you should do to become more likable during first dates and job interviews. 

The secret? Forget about your talents and talk about your hard work.

In a recent study, Dr. Janina Steinmetz of the Cass Business School in London explored how success is attributed on dates and job interviews, and how audiences received these attributions. 

The findings, published in Basic and Applied Social Psychology, showed that there's one thing that creates the most positive impression with others: communicating your struggle, not just your success. 

Dr. Steinmetz conducted three experiments with men and women of all ages from the United States and the Netherlands, and asked participants to imagine themselves as interviewees or interviewers. 

When interviewees were asked to speak about themselves in a positive light, it was found that they "overemphasized their talents and successes" and did not share what the receivers really wanted to hear about: the effort and hard work behind the interviewees' accomplishments.

It was clear, according to Dr. Steinmetz, that telling others about your success or talent is important, but it is just as crucial to communicate stories of your hard work and effort, in order to create a "warmer, positive, more relatable first impression."

Next time you're in a job interview talking about a past successful project, don't forget to mention the challenges you faced and how you overcame them. And, if you're on a date and want to talk about your most recent marathon, "perhaps talk about all the training that helped you to cross the finish line," suggests Dr. Steinmetz.

Next time you meet someone new, don't be shy -- push yourself to talk blood, sweat, and tears. Believe it or not, people want to know your struggles, because they are key parts to the story behind your success.

Published on: Dec 18, 2018
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