Dr. Ann Demarais holds a PhD in psychology from New York University. She is the founder of First Impressions Inc., and has more than 20 years of experience in leadership development, executive coaching, and communication training. She is also the co-author (along with Dr. Valerie White) of the book, “First Impressions: What You Don’t Know About How Others See You.”
In this interview, Ann starts by discussing her background and the work she does with her company. She reveals some common challenges that people face with first impressions. Ann then gives examples of open-ended and follow-up questions to ask in a conversation to show continued interest and take the pressure off. We ask her how to navigate a conversation when someone is talking too much and not giving us the opportunity to express ourselves. She also talks about the importance of making people feel good about themselves.
Next, Ann expands on the idea of social generosity, and describes the four universal social gifts: appreciation, connection, elevation, and enlightenment. She provides examples of how to be thoughtful and give compliments. Ann goes on to explain why first impressions, body language, and facial expressions are so important. She reveals what makes a great first impression, and discusses how to utilize feedback to become more self-aware of the vibes we give off. She also explains how we can train ourselves to make more eye contact and smile more.
Ann then talks more about what it means to be an effective listener, and dispels some common body language myths. She expands on the idea of presence and explains how to use mindfulness to improve the quality of our conversations. Chris discusses how charismatic people express curiosity and make the other person feel important. He also talks about the active process of connection, and how conversational flexibility is a reflection of our social and emotional health. Ann shares some additional insights and revisits the importance of feedback.
Finally, we ask Ann how to distinguish between genuine and unfounded negative feedback. She explains how to effectively handle harsh feedback and assess the validity of feedback that we receive. She also offers strategies for releasing unfounded negative feedback, as well as soliciting feedback from our peers. Ann then talks about the importance of practicing self-acceptance. She leaves us with some insights and practical suggestions for building deeper connection and making better first impressions.
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Mike is the Producer for the Craft of Charisma Podcast.