455: Making An Amazing First Impression (On Purpose) With Vanessa Van Edwards

Vanessa talks about her new book, and how you can learn to make the best first impressions



Vanessa Van Edwards, Author, Keynote Speaker, Lead Investigator at Science of People

Vanessa is a national bestselling author, internationally acclaimed speaker and founder of Science of People.

on this episode

Studies show that people make a first impression in less than 7 seconds. That doesn’t give you a lot of time to make a great impression – especially when you are having a job interview.

So what can you do to use those 7 seconds (or less) to your advantage?

Vanessa Van Edwards, author of “Cues: Master the Secret Language of Charismatic Communication”, shares exactly how you can do this.

What you’ll learn

  • The importance of knowing what first impressions you’re making
  • How to give off the right cues to show charisma and trustworthiness
  • The science backed research that Vanessa uses in her new book
  • First impressions and how your LinkedIn profile is perceived by others

Success Stories

Vanessa Van Edwards 00:01
And the way that I want you to think about cues is like recipes. So there are 96 cues, it does not mean that you should use all 96 of them. In fact, that would be like trying to put everything into the same dish. It's actually much better to think about, what cues are you already naturally using that you want to leverage or level up or pump up, or reason or purposely great? Those are your staples.

Introduction 00:28
This is the Happen To Your Career podcast, with Scott Anthony Barlow. We help you stop doing work that doesn't fit you, figure out what does and make it happen. We help you define the work that's unapologetically you, and then go get it. If you're ready to make a change, keep listening. Here's Scott. Here's Scott. Here's Scott.

Scott Anthony Barlow 00:52
You're on Happen To Your Career. We've had hundreds of episodes, about how to set yourself up for success during the career change process from way before the actual interview to where you're leveraging psychology, to where you're doing test drive conversations, and everything that happens in between all the way to negotiation, you have one good chance to make a wonderful impression, at least the first time around. In fact, studies show that people make a first judgment in less than seven seconds. That doesn't give you a lot of time to make a great impression. So the question is, what can you do to use those seven seconds or even less to your advantage?

Vanessa Van Edwards 01:38
In those first few milliseconds of someone seeing you, they are getting very quick, but very simple cues, just looking at your picture, looking at your gestures, your expression, your posture, your colors, but they're also very quickly looking at the first few words of your headline. So just like we talked about the verbal cues for your first 10 word editor mouth, you also want those first 10 words in your headline to matter.

Scott Anthony Barlow 01:59
That's Vanessa Van Edwards. Vanessa's the lead investigator at the science of people and is renowned for teaching science backed people skills to audiences around the world, including at South by Southwest, which I've been to in the past and love, MIT, CES, not only is she a speaker and researcher, but Vanessa is also a national best selling author, including her newest book "Cues: Master the Secret Language of Charismatic Communication". In this book, which I've read, I love, she talks about the tiny signals we send to others 24/7 through our body language, facial expressions, word choice, vocal inflection, and how they have a massive impact. And how we and our ideas come across. Our cues can either enhance our message or undermine it. So today, let's dive into the conversation with Vanessa. Here's her describing her early career trajectory.

Vanessa Van Edwards 02:58
It seems like if you look at the trajectory of my career, it seems very random. But when I look back, I know there were specific reasons what I did each thing that led me to be able to do what I do now, which is weird. Like, I have a weird, weird job. When I was asked, you know, in elementary school, or even in college, "what do you want to do with your life?" You know, YouTube wasn't a thing. There was no such thing as YouTube, there was no such thing as like writer meets vlogger, like, it just wasn't a thing. So I didn't realize that I was actually building lots of skills that got me to here. But the biggest one is when I always have had a natural inclination towards language. So in high school, I took Spanish and French and it seemed very easy. For me, math and science were okay, but wow, I just love those languages. And then in college, someone said, oh, you should take the hardest language.

Scott Anthony Barlow 03:47
Well, hold on. Why did you feel that was a good idea at that time?

Vanessa Van Edwards 03:51
Why? That's it. Why did I think that was a good idea? Because someone was like, oh, you know, "if you are able to add Chinese, Mandarin to your repertoire, you'll get a job anywhere." I thought it would be great to get a job anywhere. So I enrolled in Mandarin classes and loved it, like immediately loved it. So I ended up majoring in Chinese International Studies. I actually think the reason I was supposed to do that was because I ended up meeting my husband studying abroad in China. I study abroad in China, and I met my husband. He was also studying abroad from George Washington University. We fell in love, 15 years later, you know, we're still together. We have a baby. We got married five years later. So I think that path was like a romantic path. But here's where I think the language piece ended up being important is I was very good at languages, and at this time, I was also very, very awkward. And it was that horrible time in your career, where you're going on tons of interviews, you're trying to network, you're doing those information sessions, you're trying to make long lasting friendships, like, at that point, I was doing the most people in everyday that I've ever done, and I was quite bad at peopling, I'm a recovering awkward person. So it's very hard for me to process lots of social information. I also have a problem where I misinterpret neutral cues as negative. So I always would, like, my joke with my husband, I come home from a party and I'm like, "Is she mad at me?", "Does everyone hate me?", "Did I do something wrong?". He's like, "No. What are you talking about?" So because of that, and this was in 2005, I remember specifically, I watched a very big interview at the time, which was Larry, on Larry King Live, Lance Armstrong went on saying that he had never doped. Now, of course, we know later that he definitely had it.

Scott Anthony Barlow 05:29
We all know how that ends.

Vanessa Van Edwards 05:30
Massive and open skin. I remember watching that interview. And he tells this massive lie, right, like huge lie, and then lip presses– presses his lips together. And I remember watching thinking, "what was that?" No, I didn't realize the time that was the very first cue I ever consciously spotted. And I thought, as I started doing the researchers, as I start looking into like, you know, nonverbal textbooks and body language research, and I was like, "Oh, it's a lip presses." Lip presses, kind of, seen as a universal sign of withholding or holding back. And I wondered, "What if I could study cues like I study foreign languages?" You know, in foreign language, the very first thing you do is you learn vocab words, and then you begin to put them together. And so I thought, "Well, I don't speak people. I speak English, but I don't speak people." I really have a hard time misinterpret facial expressions. I don't know what to do with my hands when I talk. I have no idea how to submit...present myself as confident. What if I could look at confident people, and catalog all the cues they use down to the gesture? And so that was the start in 2005 of this research, where I slowly started to catalog every cue that humans send. And that's what a cue is a social signal. Little did I know that 17 years later, I would have a book called "Cues". And that would be my entire career. That was a very fast forward, I'm happy to dig into, and that was sort of the seed that accidentally got me into this path.

Scott Anthony Barlow 06:50
What else happened along the way that really helped to cement that for you that really helped to confirm that you were on that right path?

Vanessa Van Edwards 07:00
I think pretty early on, I had distinguished there are two kind of types or buckets of cues, there's positive cues that highly charismatic, compelling people use. And there's negative cues that whether they're athletes, or politicians or business leaders, they have these negative cues when they're lying, or they're hiding something. So okay, very simply, I want to show less negative cues, and I want to show more positive cues. So I took a video of myself giving a presentation. And I was like, let's see, look at the cues I use, and let's see what language I'm sending. And it was so interesting, because it was like my little transcript. I had a little transcripts, and I was writing down all the cues next to my transcript. I'm very scientific really guy, I learned in a very black and white way. So I had a transcript of my talk. And then I was writing the cues in the margin. And it was like, negative cue, negative cue, negative cue, negative cue, positive cue, negative, negative, negative, negative negative, I looked at this sheet, and of course, it was color coded, because, you know, that I like color coding. It was all red. By the way, that is the reason why cue is red it's because I had too many negative cues. And I had no idea. I had no idea that I was sending all excuses. I worked really hard on that presentation, right? Like I had prepped the perfect slides, I had great answers. I had great statistics and didn't really matter, right? Like even I had this perfect presentation, I was giving away all of my, I didn't know it at the time, I was giving me all my competence. That was a big aha moment for me to realize, I need to take control of my cues. But there is no accidental, right? And that's a lot. That's a big mistake of people who are very smart, is they show up, they think my ideas can speak for me, right? I have such good ideas, my ideas will speak for themselves. And then we get into the room and we wonder why people are on their phones. We wonder why we don't get called back into the interview. We wonder why we're interrupted or not respected or not paid enough. I know, it's because we are accidentally sending cues that don't serve us.

Scott Anthony Barlow 08:50
We'll talk about that for probably more than a few minutes.

Vanessa Van Edwards 08:55
I'm ready.

Scott Anthony Barlow 08:57
Here's what I'd love to focus in on. I can't tell you the number of conversations that I've had over the last 20 years working as an HR leader, working in recruiting, going into interviews myself, you mentioned interviews and as an example, a very visible example that I think almost everyone can point to in some way or another where it's a situation where you don't necessarily get immediate feedback. Sometimes you do, sometimes you have other people's cues. And sometimes you have, you know, someone expressing their intentions immediately. But a lot of the times, it's a we're ending it and we're gonna find out. And that creates somewhat precarious situation where you don't necessarily know how you did or why you did and so many people I've encountered over the years are surprised when they think something went really really well. And then lo and behold, you know, they came in the second place, or they came in, not getting the job at all, whatever it might be. So what are some of the biggest mistakes that you see in, let's just say that type of situation, that type of personal interaction where you want to allow people to like you because people are basing a decision at least partially, maybe subconsciously on that.

Vanessa Van Edwards 10:12
Yes. Okay. So first of all this has happened to you, you are not alone. So this happened to you were you think that date went great, that meeting went awesome, that interviewer went well, and then all of a sudden, you realize you didn't get the job, they didn't call you back, they didn't write back, you are not alone in that. And the biggest mistake that I see actually is a mistake that smart people make, very successfully make this mistake, which is they under cue, they under signal. So here's why this happens. You have an interview and negotiation pitch, okay? And you're really excited, you prepare, you know, you prepare answers, you script out stories, you prepare for the hardball questions, you remembered the good questions, you remember their name, right? You think a lot about the verbal and verbal cues are important, right? That is one area of cues. The problem is, is when you are so focused on the idea, when you are so focused on delivering answer, especially like agenda, I think a lot of very smart, organized people, this was me– I had an agenda in my head I had to get through, right. And so you walk into the interview, and you're so focused on the agenda and some of the memorization and memorization can actually kill charisma, that you're just like deliver, deliver, deliver, deliver, which means you're under signaling with your body, you're under signaling with your face, you're delivering with a vocal power that's memorized, right? So if I have a memorized answer, it's going to sound scripted, it's going to sound inauthentic, even if it isn't, because you've rehearsed it so many times, you rehearse the emotion out of it. So a myth that people have is that to be powerful or impressive, they should under a moat, they should be stoic and hide all their cues. That is so far from the truth. Highly charismatic people are actually very expressive. They're just purposefully so. They know how to express warmth and trust, they know how to express competence and productivity, they know how to express a disagreement or underwhelmed with them something they don't like. And so that is the biggest thing you will make is they under signal because they don't know what to do with their signals.

Scott Anthony Barlow 12:00
That's really interesting. And I gotta tell you, this has been really kind of fascinating. I read the book in the last three days or so here.

Vanessa Van Edwards 12:07
Whoa, cool!

Scott Anthony Barlow 12:09
It was wonderful. And I will tell you, first and foremost, that my favorite part was actually, here's a little teaser for everyone because we won't have time to talk about everything. But the part where you decoded the Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper. And that was fascinating, partially because I'm a fan of, you know, Leonardo da Vinci's work and some fact, yeah, let's be honest. Also, it was really, really fascinating to look at it in a completely different light. But the other bigger reason, this has been interesting for me is I got a concussion last Sunday playing ice hockey. So I'm going somewhere with this, I promise. But what has happened is because my brain is healing, all of the cues that I do on autopilot on a normal given day are actually more challenging. So it was really interesting to go through the book, and then in some ways, relearn many of the things that I've been doing for years and years, and now they're actually hard. My wife and I went to a group dinner last night, and it was a struggle for me to do some of the cues that I would normally do on autopilot. So here's my question for you, you know, as people are beginning to pay attention to this, maybe for the first time, maybe after a concussion, I don't know, whenever they need to, how would you advise them to start practicing this?

Vanessa Van Edwards 13:31
It's interesting, because I wonder if that almost gives you a little bit of a blank slate, right, like to retest and retry cues is kind of like an interesting way to think about it.

Scott Anthony Barlow 13:39
It's been a weird experiment.

Vanessa Van Edwards 13:40
Yeah. Like that's like a very cool experiment and went great timing with the book, not horrible timing for a concussion.

Scott Anthony Barlow 13:47
It's never a great time to get to that concussion, but if that would be, you know, about that.

Vanessa Van Edwards 13:52
So there are 96 cues in the book. And the way that I want you to think about cues is like recipes. So there are 96 cues, it does not mean that you should use all 96 of them. In fact, that would be like trying to put everything into the same dish. It's actually much better to think about what cues are you already naturally using. So hopefully, as you're reading, and this is what people have been telling me as they read, which is so great is "oh, I didn't realize I was doing that cue and that was serving me." What cues are you're already naturally using that you want to leverage or level up or pump up, reason or purposely great? Those are your staples, right? Like those are like the favorite things, your favorite foods you like to cook with. They tend to be a lot of your dishes. Great. The next thing we think about is, like, what are the dishes that sound really good? So what are the cues as you're reading, you're like, "Ooh, I like that cue. I want to try that." And slowly start adding it, trying it on, right, like see if you like the flavor. The first time you might not love it, right, the first time we try it any cue, you can feel a little uncomfortable, a little bit foreign, but I want you to try it in three different types of scenarios with three different people. And that's because some cues, like, I use some cues a lot more with my daughter and my husband than I do professionally, right? Like, one's dessert, one's dinner, you know, if we're going to keep going on the food metaphor, I like food, you know, we should think about that.

Scott Anthony Barlow 15:08
We'll see how far we can push this food metaphor.

Vanessa Van Edwards 15:10
I want to keep pushing it. It's almost lunchtime, I'm gonna keep pushing. So like, you're gonna figure out what goes in which scenario, which made me change for places. There are going to be some cues that you do not like, right, you have food allergies to those cues. And that's also very empowering, because I don't want you to do cues that are inauthentic. So start this cue by cue. First, getting very purposeful with the cues you already use naturally, those are the best. Second challenge yourself, I want to try a cue a day or a cue a week, I want to try it on. And the other way that we can practice this is spotting all 96 cues. So seeing in the next few weeks, can you spot cues on your friends and your colleagues on reality TV, in movies, that's also training a very specific part of your brain? So they've actually identified that we use very specific parts of our brain to identify cues, there's an area of our brain called the fusiform face area, this is a specific area of our brain that we use to decode facial expressions. If we are not used to doing this, if we've never done this before, it can literally feel like exercising a muscle for the first time, right. So you're gonna have to start with like smaller weights, right, and then work your way up. So even just learning to spot the cues, is also when you can sort of begin to try them on.

Scott Anthony Barlow 16:22
First of all, I really appreciate that. Because long before I knew anything about cues, I had a variety of mentors that made me watch a video of myself over and over and over again, it was so painful at first, let's be honest.

Vanessa Van Edwards 16:35
It's horrible.

Scott Anthony Barlow 16:36
Like, at some point it is not that big of a deal anymore, but it was painful for a long time. And the benefit out of it was that I got to see all of those parts and pieces, those different cues in action when they worked well, when they worked, quite frankly, terribly. So I appreciate those other ways to look at it too. And the point that, hey, it's not a case where you need to master all 96 cues. But instead, it's choosing what you're going to bring into your repertoire.

Vanessa Van Edwards 17:06
Yeah. And I think another thing that you can look for. So I think it's, oh gosh, if you can get a video of yourself presenting or speaking, something important, like not just like a little update, but like presenting or sharing something, it's so helpful to code it. Another thing you can do for yourself is I think everyone should know their own nervous cells, right? Everyone should know what tick do you have that, kind of, who your anxiety leaks in that way, when they're different for everyone. There's some typical interesting cues. I talked about this in the book, but what do you do when you knew you were anxious? Right? So you can find a video of yourself where you knew you were sweating it, right? Like during that particular question, or you were really nervous delivering that story, or you even knew you were deceiving someone. Pay attention to what you did not only non verbally, but verbally vocally, like, for example, there's some studies that look at liars and their patterns of their lies. And not every time but they often find that liars will use words like to be honest, to be frank, they'll actually call out honesty, even though they're about to lie, which is a very odd behavior thing. So even pay attention to the type of verbal signals you might be giving out. I think that's a really empowering thing to know about yourself.

Scott Anthony Barlow 18:15
Let's talk about some specific places where our listeners might be able to apply it. How about this, let's take a real example that one of our clients is experiencing right now. So she's in the process of identifying her next career move. Right? And, yeah, it's a wonderful opportunity for her and for the most part she's having a good time with it. That said, she's in this space where she's now trying to identify what roles are interesting to her and where she wants to spend, you know, the next number of years. And she's going through this mini career experiment that we call the "Social Goldilocks", where she's scheduling a whole series of super short calls with people that have roles that she might be interested in. So in this case, she's doing a lot of zoom calls, a lot of video chat, a lot of like, what you and I are doing right this very second, right? Yeah. So here's my question. I know that you break down charisma into warmth and competence, right? So how can she during those video calls build both warmth and competence very, very quickly?

Vanessa Van Edwards 19:22
Okay. So I'm going to give a really specific formula here, like this is pre video calls that are specific cues we need to see to be able to diagnose someone's warmth and competence. So these are crazy specific, but they really work. First thing is, you need to make sure if you're doing video calls that you are honoring space rules. This is called proxemics. It's a very important aspect of human behavior. And the biggest mistake people make on video is they get too close to their camera so they are all up in their cameras like their face is super close like this. I want you to make sure, I want to measure the distance between your nose and the camera, and I want you to make sure it is at least 18 inches away. Okay, it's the very first thing. And the reason for that is because if it is closer than 18 inches, you are accidentally triggering someone's fear response. When someone comes into our intimate zone too quickly, we're like, whoa, whoa, whoa, it's like a digital close talker. It makes us feel like we're being threatened. So, one, right from that very first impression, make sure you are in the sweet spot, which is 18 inches to three feet away from your camera, sounds very silly, but that's how far we want to be in the person that we're talking to. So that's number one, before you even get on that video call, take some measurements. And at my home setup, when I'm in my home studio, I have very specific setups in my room to just set me up for more charisma. Like for example, I have to sit today cuz I'm in a boring conference room in my publishers office. But normally I'm standing, not everyone has to stand. But I have noticed it changes my vocal power. When I'm standing, I just can deliver with more breath. So second, decide if you want to stand or sit, like, decide– do a couple experiments– where do you sound like your best self? Is it standing or sitting? So that's even before you hop in the call. Second...or actually third, and the moment you come on camera, I would love for you to do a nonverbal greeting. So we love this as humans and in person, we know this instinctively, right? We know intuitively when we see someone we reach out, we high five, we handshake, we cheek kiss, we hug, we have some sort of nonverbal greeting. On video that awkwardness that can happen the first seconds in the video it's because our brain is like, "what do we do? What do we do? We can't touch them, what do we do?" I mean, we're trying to, like, think we can't handshake so it's so weird. So instead, I want you to in your head replace the handshake with an honorable reading. My favorite is just a wave. So the moment I hop on video, I go "Hey, good morning. Good to see ya." And I give a little wave, "How are ya?" Right? On YouTube, every single one of my YouTube videos, I start with a double handed "Hi", both sides. So third is some sort of nonverbal greeting. And the last thing I would say is we've dismissed verbal a lot in this interview. But verbal does matter. Of course, words matter. And this is the third area of cues. There's body language, vocal, words, and imagery. Words, also really important, especially your first 10 words. So in your video calls, I want you to think about the first 10 words out of your mouth. Oftentimes, they are accidentally negative. So people will hop on a video call and they'll be like, "Oh man, the weather, those COVID numbers. I'm so tired. I'm so stressed. I'm so busy." And it's like we just default to it. We don't even think, "Can you see me? Can you hear me?" That's actually the base engine is when you say "can you see me? Can you hear me" and you're leaning in like this, it's like a double way.

Scott Anthony Barlow 22:34
It's like the double entendre.

Vanessa Van Edwards 22:36
It's like a horrible space, no greeting, terrible start. So I want you to think about before you even hop on your call, what am I opening with? What's my opener? And this can be very simple. "Happy Monday." "Happy Wednesday." "So good to see you." "I've been so looking forward to this. Thank you so much for having me." "Hi, team" It's not like you have to start with a speech or a toast, it's just something small positive that you can add.

Scott Anthony Barlow 23:00
I love that. And thank you for going specific. That is incredibly helpful.

Vanessa Van Edwards 23:06
Okay, good. And it's this checklist. I mean, this is how I learned charisma, I am not naturally charismatic. And so I have to think about what is the formula and there are social blueprints, there are blueprints for how we like to interact. And if we know how to read those blueprints, we all feel better. Everyone feels better. It's a win for everyone.

Scott Anthony Barlow 23:22
It does, it impacts everyone. You know, one of the parts that I loved in the book you had made the point about it becomes contagious, if you are expressing cues that, one, indicating happiness or indicating anything that's positive, quite frankly, then the other person therefore feels more positive. And consequently you feel more positive as well. So, it really is. Like it is all linked together.

Vanessa Van Edwards 23:52
And I think we...this is like a gift we can give to the world. Like I know that sounds super cheesy, but you know, we are desperately needed connection– now more than ever. And our cues are contagious, right? So if we show up as our warmest, most competent, most confident self, not only does that make us look good, which is great. That's a happy side effect. But we're also infecting other people to feel like their warmest was almost a competent self. And this because of very specific neural feedback loop, which is when we're with humans, we cannot help but suddenly mirror them. Now the more we like someone the more we mirror, the less we like someone the less we mirror. It's a little bit harder on video that's still done, it happens even more in person, actually, even happens on the phone. We tend to mirror the vocal patterns the person we're talking with. This is a natural response because, as humans, we want to feel as the other person feels. So if we're with someone and let's say that they're sad, they're having a hard day and they're pinching their eyebrows together and they're rolling their...they're pulling their mouth onto a frown and they're worried and they're anxious, we will subtly begin to mirror pinching yourself or pulling our mouth down so we can feel as they feel. And so if you show off with really confident, powerful verbal and nonverbal, other people are more likely to also mimic our competence or confidence and then feel better and more confident themselves. This is a way that I think we can act that is like giving gifts, right? You're giving these gifts of competence and confidence. If you can't do it for yourself, do it for others.

Scott Anthony Barlow 25:16
A long time ago, I heard someone say that, you know, one of the best gifts we can give is listening to other people. However, I would argue that, to your point, one of the best gifts that we can give is not just listening to other people, but maybe even in how you listen and interact with other people. So very much appreciate that,

Vanessa Van Edwards 25:36
And like adding the engagement, right, like we can't listen actively or passively. But if we listen actively, we're actually creating contagion, which is super cool.

Scott Anthony Barlow 25:44
Yeah, I like it. You mentioned imagery. I'm gonna change topics on you here for a moment. Because, I'm fascinated by the imagery side. And literally right before this, I always have this routine where, you know, anybody who I'm going to be talking to, I will click on their LinkedIn profile or their website or something else, like just to get a picture in front of me. So I can, you know, imagine the conversation that's about to take place. That said, I clicked on your LinkedIn profile, and you had this post about a launch party that you were doing. And one of the pieces in there was, hey, you know, you want me to take a look at your LinkedIn profile or the picture in there. And I was curious about that, in particular, because I think that is something that many people don't give a second thought to, that was actually the imagery side, but partially, you know, LinkedIn, which is becoming more and more and more widely used every day. So tell me a little bit about what we should be looking for or could be looking for. Let's say that we want to convey confidence and likeability in a LinkedIn photo, for example.

Vanessa Van Edwards 26:44
So what's happening and I think you're absolutely right is we are forgetting that we are very rarely getting a true first impression anymore. Why? Because everyone is googling us for clicking on our links. So our first impressions are actually happening digitally, right? If people have searched you beforehand, which is a lot of the time, right, like a lot of interviews, a lot of meetings, even like I'm now meeting colleagues digitally, before I'm even meeting them in person, you want to make sure that your digital first impression is exactly how they want to come across in person. And luckily, this is actually easier, I actually think it's easier to maintain a great static digital first impression, it's harder to do it in person, we have to make sure that they align. The biggest mistake I think a lot people are making nowadays is they have this amazing digital first impression, and it doesn't match up with the real self, or they have a terrible digital first impression doesn't match their true self. So we want it to be accurate, that's very important. And we think about imagery. So there's a couple, there's two kinds of cues that we're sending in our digital first impression. In those first few milliseconds of someone seeing you, they are getting very quick but very simple cue. So they just looking at your picture, they're looking at your gestures, your expression, your posture, your colors, but they're also very quickly looking at the first few words of your headline. So just like we talked about the verbal cues for your first 10 words out of your mouth, you also want those first 10 words in your headline to matter. It's usually it's a very quick snapshot, but I don't want you to do is to go sterile. That's the mistake actually see verbally on impressions as people use either buzzwords or they use really sterile words like they're just their general title, or company that used to do this workout. Is there a way that you can set yourself up for success by using the kind of words you want people to associate with you? So think about what is your ideal first impression? When people meet you, what do you want them to say about you? Collaborative? Trustworthy? Competent? Powerful? Consider using those words in your headline. Remember, people are very triggered by those cues that associate you more likely to associate with those words, if they're true, they always want to make sure they're true. So think about using words that carry more power that are purposeful in the first few lines of your headline. On the imagery side, you have lots of choices. So we're constantly sending out imagery cues, that's the colors we wear, the props we hold, the props we wear, the props behind us. And so I think instead of making those sterile, a lot of people have, you know, white background today, unfortunately, I have a background.

Scott Anthony Barlow 29:06
You have the red.

Vanessa Van Edwards 29:07
Yes. So that I knew I was like, "Oh, I'm going to be in a really horrible conference room. So I'm wearing red, friends. I'm wearing red today." Because I knew I had to balance out the boringness was behind me. So I want you to think about, you know, if you're going for a traditional corporate professional goal, yeah, you want to wear a business suit and a tie. If that's not your vibe, if you want to go more casual, if you want to be more in a team easy going natural setting, take off the blazer and put on something more casual. Your background, if you want to be in a traditional setting, you want to show a traditional setting, but if you want to be doing something more adventurous, more exciting, a little bit different, consider using a more exciting, more interesting background. So I think that we have to match all those cues, like, people often think, "Oh, it's a good picture of me. Therefore it's good enough." It's not just about being good or flattering photo. It's a contextually good photo, so you look good and like yourself and your context what you're wearing, what's behind you, what's your holding is also on the money.

Scott Anthony Barlow 30:05
I feel like that is a lens that is very commonly asked, like, I think about questions that we've been asked over the years, and most of them are, "Hey, what's good versus bad." However, I don't find that that's a particularly useful way to look at anything for that matter whether we're talking about imagery, whether it's photos, whether we're talking about headlines, it doesn't matter.

Vanessa Van Edwards 30:26
You're absolutely right. It's not good or bad. And that's a really important distinction. In fact, I'll give a very specific example for a prop. So I have a student who wants to pivot his career from corporate leader to politics. He's in a new phase of his career. He wants to be an activist. So when he was in the corporate part of his career, he wore a business suit and tie, right. So we were talking about, okay, well, how are we going to signal this change? Right? This is a massive change in your careers, and you're gonna be blasting your network, you're gonna be fundraising, you want to signal this. So what's a very easy way, I'm going to give you a little pop quiz here, let's see, can you think of a really easy way to signal... I'm running for office. What's the prop? Can you think of it? When I say, you're gonna be like, "Oh, of course."

Scott Anthony Barlow 31:08
I would say something in the background, or you're at a White House looking or... Tell me.

Vanessa Van Edwards 31:15
So you could totally do a monument right behind you. Absolutely. But a flag pin.

Scott Anthony Barlow 31:21

Vanessa Van Edwards 31:22
I mean, when you see someone in a room, and they have a flag pin on, you're like, "So politics?" Like, we associate that small, tiny visual cue with either political ambitions or a strong stance. And so we changed the picture, we took off his time, because he wanted to be a little bit more, you know, the people, he's much more civically minded. So we took off the time, and he's still in a business suit. And he added us a little bit, a little US flag pin. And that was a completely different signal or visual cue that spoke for him. Now, his first impression is much closer to where he wants to go. And it's a really, really small, subtle change. But if that cue is helping speak for him, I think that that's why I'm so glad you mentioned good versus bad, is your cues can work for you. Right? Like if you want to signal something ahead of your first impression, or without you even having to say anything, those visual cues can help you with that– a flag pins is one of them.

Scott Anthony Barlow 32:14
So do you feel like you have to, since you have an entire book on cues, do you feel the pressure when you're at something like this to have all the cues that you want to? Tell me about that. What goes on in your head?

Vanessa Van Edwards 32:27
I feel free, finally, actually. There was many years where I was trying on the 96 cues myself, right? Like I was like trying this one. I'm like, I have some that I like that I don't like, like, for example cue, I don't use this the thumb pinch, right? Like this is a favorite of Barack Obama, he has a fist and he puts his thumb on top. And that for me, I don't know, just like, am I holding a wand? Like...

Scott Anthony Barlow 32:47
Harry Potter's.

Vanessa Van Edwards 32:48
Yeah. Like, you know, it's like Leviosa. Like, I don't know, it doesn't work for me. So there was many years where I was trying on these cues, and then when I would find one that hit, I want to talk about it. But because I didn't have this, you know, language, I hadn't cataloged them yet, I was sort of like I discovered this recipe that I couldn't share. So actually, no, I felt so much relief now that we're all talking about these cues. Because I feel like I can be myself, I can use the cues that I find natural. And when I don't find one that's natural, I can be like, "Oh, that was weird. I don't know why I did that cue". And so in a weird way, I'm really happy that I can have this shared language with my partner, with my team, with my colleagues, like, my interviews are more fun now, because we can talk about specific things that work and don't work for us, for me, for you. So now it's been so much easier. Actually, it's been so much easier.

Scott Anthony Barlow 33:06
That is fantastic. What advice would you give to people who really want to get started mastering, not all the cues, as we said earlier, but really identifying what is going to work for themselves and then get going on it if they had to do just one thing? Well, just one action or activity, what advice.

Vanessa Van Edwards 34:01
It's kind of a weird piece of advice, but I think it's the one really specific thing you can do, which is... there was a specific study I mentioned the book, such a funny, funny study. They had speakers come onstage and give a short presentation. Then they had speakers, think of Steve Jobs, and channel Steve Jobs and give another presentation. Just this exercise immediately improved the speaker's performance. They stayed on stage longer, they felt better about their presentation, they use more dynamic gestures, they had better vocal power, like everything got better simply by just thinking of Steve Jobs. So what I would say is everyone should have like a speaking or a charisma role model. I love The Rock. Okay, I think The Rock is super charismatic. I had a breakdown. I'm just accusing my YouTube channel because I wanted an excuse to watch eight hours of interviews of The Rock and I found that when I channel my charisma role models, my own nonverbal, my verba,l my vocal changes and I can try on cues. So very simply, over the next few weeks, I want you to channel whoever your charisma role model is and see what you know, what you do. You know, are you trying to use in different gestures? Are you using different vocal cues? Does that make you feel more empowered? Those can be the first few cues you can try to add to your repertoire.

Scott Anthony Barlow 35:10
That is fantastic. I very much appreciate you taking the time and making the time. And by the way, the book is "Cues: Master the Secret Language of Charismatic Communication" small signals, incredible impact. And thank you for coming on and giving us so many specific examples. I appreciate it very, very much.

Vanessa Van Edwards 35:29
Oh, my goodness. I want to thank you so much for having me for letting me share all this work. For anyone who's listening if you're a recovering, awkward person, and you're trying to make your cues work for you, remember, one cue at a time.

Scott Anthony Barlow 35:44
Most of our episodes on Happen To Your Career often showcase stories of people that have identified and found and taken the steps to get to work that they are absolutely enamored with, that matches their strengths, and is really what they want in their lives. And if that's something that you're ready to begin taking steps towards, that is awesome, you can actually get on the phone with us and our team and we can have a conversation to find the very best way that we can help. It's super informal. And we try to understand what your goals are, where you want to go, and what specifically you need our help with. And then we figure out the very best type of help for you, whatever that looks like, and sometimes even customize that type of help. And then we make it happen. The really easy way to schedule a conversation with our team is just go to scheduleaconversation.com, that scheduleaconversation.com, and find a time that works best for you. We'll ask you a few questions, as well. And then we'll get you on the phone to figure out how we can get you going to work that you really want to be doing that fits your strengths, that you love, and you're enamored with, Hey, I can't wait to hear from you.

Speaker 3 37:06
As I've noticed that I get a lot more meaning out of the work that I do, out of the people that I hang out with, out of the experiences that I have, when there's less freedom ironically, within which I get to choose from. So I think, to me, freedom means the appropriate boundaries and constraints within which to play with full freedom.

Scott Anthony Barlow 37:26
All that and plenty more next week right here on Happen To Your Career. Make sure that you don't miss it. And if you haven't already, click Subscribe on your podcast player so that you can download this podcast in your sleep, and you get it automatically, even the bonus episodes every single week, sometimes multiple times a week. Until next week. Adios. I'm out.

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