Do you have trouble making friends or getting a date? What about getting passed up for that well-deserved promotion? Do you often say that life is unfair? Too often we become complacent in our failures instead of trying to overcome them. What’s worse is we try to justify them with meaningless quotes like “what doesn’t kill me will make me stronger”, “it is their loss”, “whatever will be will be”, or “it’s God’s will”. People do and will continue to judge you on a regular basis. If you are okay with that great but don’t live life in blissful ignorance wondering why.
Rule #1. First impressions are everything. Numerous studies such as this one by Willis, J. & Todorov, A. “show minimal exposure to faces is sufficient for people to form trait impressions, and that additional exposure time can simply boost confidence in these impressions. That is, additional encounters with a person may only serve to justify quick, initial, on-line judgments” (1). When in public always have a warm and welcoming appearance.
Rule #2. It’s not just what you say but how you say it. Have you ever been told you look angry or project a combative demeanor? If so you should try to change it rather than embrace it. Prof. Albert Mehrabian of the University of California in Los Angeles found that “The non-verbal elements are particularly important for communicating feelings and attitude, especially when they are incongruent: if words and body language disagree, one tends to believe the body language” (2). From this point forward know that looking the part is just as important as being the part.
Rule #3. Be active, stay active, and eat right. We’re not all blessed with the best genetics but that doesn’t mean give up. Those few extra pounds can cost you big time. A Survey by Thomas Mansfield found over half of recruiting professionals admitted they saw obesity as a marker of personality and predicted work ethic. They believed being obese had a negative impact on the workplace and productivity. (3) Whether you consider this discrimination or prejudice does not change the perceived outcome.
Rule #4. Surround yourself with good company. The infamous bible quote “bad company corrupts good character” is backed by science. A study “found that people who are surrounded by happy people are more likely to be happy themselves. Dr. Nicholas Christakis of Harvard Medical School and Dr. James Fowler of the University of California at San Diego concluded that “people's happiness depends on the happiness of others with whom they are connected...” Not only that but it spreads like a wildfire up to 3 degrees of separation (4). A great support circle of friends and family can really do wonders for your health, happiness and success in life.
Rule #5. Understand and own your stereotypes. Studies show that we all stereotype regularly, be it consciously or unconsciously. Whether you call it discrimination or preference, prejudice or favoritism, we do it. One’s age, dress, gender, gender identity, appearance, physical abilities, religion, sexual orientation, weight, and many other characteristics are all subject to bias. Mastering your stereotypes is like cheating on a test; you already know the answer. You should be able to rapidly address and respond to the situation without hesitation. Instead of being offended, be quick witted. (5,6,7). Being able to laugh and shrug it off will not only improve your life but also your health (8).
Hopefully, this small starter list helps you realize that we do have some control over our lives. Even though we might not always be dealt a great hand, we can still bluff, make others fold and win the hand (poker reference). Good luck on your success!
(1) Willis, J. & Todorov, A. (2006). First Impressions: Making Up Your Mind After a 100-Ms Exposure to a Face.Psychological Science, 17(7), 592-598. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9280.2006.01750.x
(2) Nonverbal Communication. (2016). Google Books. Retrieved 28 June 2016, from https://books.google.com/books?id=Xt-YALu9CGwC&printsec=frontcover&dq=inauthor:%22Albert+Mehrabian%22&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiL9PfM18nNAhVIXh4KHVzJAH4Q6AEIHjAA#v=onepage&q&f=false
(3) Justice in a time of austerity. (2014).Thomasmansfield.com. Retrieved 28 June 2016, from http://www.thomasmansfield.com/recruiters-have-a-big-problem-with-the-obese.html
(4) NA, F. (2016). Dynamic spread of happiness in a large social network: longitudinal analysis over 20 years in the Framingham Heart Study. - PubMed - NCBI . Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Retrieved 28 June 2016, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19056788
(5) Unconscious Bias | diversity.ucsf.edu. (2016). Diversity.ucsf.edu. Retrieved 29 June 2016, from https://diversity.ucsf.edu/resources/unconscious-bias
(6) Where Bias Begins: The Truth About Stereotypes. (2016). Psychology Today. Retrieved 29 June 2016, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/199805/where-bias-begins-the-truth-about-stereotypes
(7) McLeod, S. (2016). Stereotypes | Simply Psychology. Simplypsychology.org. Retrieved 29 June 2016, from http://www.simplypsychology.org/katz-braly.html
(8) Heid, M. (2014). You Asked: Does Laughing Have Real Health Benefits?.TIME.com. Retrieved 29 June 2016, from http://time.com/3592134/laughing-health-benefits/