Chapter 1 Excerpt
Sure, the proliferation of apps is making our lives better in many ways, yet nothing lifts our spirits like feeling the camaraderie you evoke when around others, even strangers, it seems. That experience has no app – just you, in person, making the first move toward connecting.
Warm Us Up When Together
Early in my work life I was sometimes surprised to see how some people were promoted faster than others who worked harder and seemed more diligent, as I was raised to do. Now I see why this happens. The surprise, for me, was that research shows you are most likely to look trustworthy to others and be liked if you first exhibit warmth and then competence, not the reverse. Our Danish family emphasized diligent work; thus competence was most apparent upfront. Yet we are hardwired to respond first to visible warmth from others and can feel coolness in them when they are simply demonstrating competence, even when intending to be helpful.
We most admire those who exude the right balance of strength and warmth, even though the notion runs counter to Machiavelli’s famous view that “It is better to be feared than loved if you cannot be both.” Like to learn how? If you’re a woman or a person of color, this capacity is especially vital, according to Compelling People co-authors John Neffinger and Matthew Kohut. Attempting to first show competence can actually cut you off from others, they found. Harvard researcher Amy Cuddy came to the same conclusion and advocate open body styles to visibly demonstrate warmth.
How Do Leaders Rate on the Warmth/Strength Scale?
Enter a well-known person’s name in the search box. Then you can rate that public figure’s combination of strength and warmth and also see their overall rating.
• Strength: Skill and will
• Warmth: Shared concerns or interests
Emotions are contagious, especially when we are face-to-face with others rather than virtually. First demonstrate warmth and then competence because “we are highly sensitive to warmth and its absence,” according to Chris Malone and Susan T. Fiske, authors of The Human Brand. You are judged for your trustworthiness within an eye blink of someone’s seeing your face. About two eye blinks later, others decide on your level of competence, according to Janine Willis and Alexander Todorov.
When first meeting or re-meeting people, consider in advance what you most like and admire about each person. Make that thought top-of-mind when you first see them. Also, if your team is meeting with others, or co-presenting, meet in advance to share out loud those traits you admire in those whom you will be seeing. That way you increase the chances of warming them up to you, to your team and to each other. That fuels fueling a virtuous circle of mutually reinforcing good will.