From the moment you walk into a room or meet someone one on one, you’re being sized up and judged.
Some researchers speculate that the human brain is hardwired to judge so it can evaluate and interpret important information.
We often form complete opinions about people based on quick impressions of their appearance, actions, and communication. It’s such an automatic response that most of the time we don’t even realize we’re doing it.
Here are 12 ways you may be unconsciously influencing what people think of you:
1. How you state your opinions.
How you say what you think says a lot about how you feel about yourself and how you treat others. Are you overbearing? Do you leave room for other perspectives? Do you listen as well as speak?
2. How often you check your phone.
There are few things more irritating or frustrating than someone sneaking looks at their phone mid-conversation. Unless the circumstances are extraordinary and you’ve explained them in advance — “I’m sorry, my child has been sick so I’m keeping an eye on my messages” — doing so conveys disrespect and impoliteness.
3. How you handle rejection.
People observe how comfortable you are with hearing “no.” You can be reactive, following your first instinct in the heat of the moment, or you can be responsive, by taking a more measured approach. Being able to handle disappointment well is one of the hallmarks of maturity.
4. How you manage your emotions.
Don’t let your emotions distract you. It’s fine to display emotion appropriately, but in most situations you should learn to manage your emotions if you don’t want them to manage you.
5. How you react to change of plans.
Being flexible and agile shows you can go with the flow and deal well with the unexpected. Be stubborn with your goals but flexible with your methods.
6. How you handle blame.
People can tell a lot about you by how you handle negative situations. Do you focus on blame or solutions? Do you blame others or take responsibility yourself? Can you let it go?
7. How you hold a conversation.
People listen to what you say and how you say it. Are you living in the past, available in the present, or focused on the future? Optimistic or pessimistic? An eloquent speaker or more inclined to listen? Bombastic or soft-spoken?
8. Whether you gossip about others.
When you gossip, people will know one thing for sure: that you speak about others behind their backs. Unsurprisingly, they’ll find it hard to trust you.
9. How you display confidence.
Confidence doesn’t mean walking into a room thinking you’re better than everyone else — it’s walking into a room and not having to compare yourself to anyone else. The most confident people are those who don’t have to rely on bragging or monopolizing the spotlight.
10. How you treat others.
How you talk to others is a sure sign of your own self-respect. Do you treat everyone with the same courtesy and kindness? If not, know that the differences are likely to be seen and noted.
11. Your appearance matters.
Your clothes, grooming, bearing, and body language are all speaking for you before you even utter a word. What message are they sending?
12. Whether you’re on time.
Punctuality — or the lack of it — forms an impression about your personality. Being late for an appointment or meeting creates an impression of being self-centered and discourteous, while being on time or even early shows consideration for others.
Sometimes it’s the little things we do that make the biggest difference. It’s good to be aware of them so you can be prepared for the impressions people are coming away with.