Giving Thanks

Psychologists have scientifically proven that one of the greatest contributing factors to overall happiness in your life is how much gratitude you show. So take today (and everyday) to tell and show people how thankful you are to have them in your life!

Happy Thanksgiving from Humintell!

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7 Ways to Develop Rapport

1 meeting - peopleFrom our affiliates, Wicklander and Zulawski

Sometimes it seems so easy to connect with someone, and other times it seems nearly impossible. How are you at connecting with people? Are you naturally introverted? Are you overly extroverted? Everyone talks about how rapport is crucial for interviewing. Rarely does anyone tell you how to do it. Rapport is so much more than having a few good questions to ask someone. Rapport is about you and your energy. In her book “You Say More Than You Think” bestselling author, Janine Driver, discuses some ways to be mindful of our own behavior when communicating.

1. Smile and offer a handshake

Yes, this is basic rapport building. People judge people on their handshakes. I once forgot a guy’s name and referenced him as “the guy with the weak handshake.” I don’t think anyone wants to be that guy. If you want someone left with the impression of confidence, strength, power, and of someone in total control of themselves:

Smile. Wouldn’t you rather speak to someone who is smiling? So pick up your head, put your shoulders back, and smile. Offer your hand first, announce your name, make eye contact and show you are friendly and confident at the same time.

2. Make them feel like an old friend at once

Your body language broadcasts precisely how you feel at any given moment. Every inch of you must be sending the signal that you care. When we step into most conversations, especially an interview we are thinking too much. Instead, respond with candid, unself-conscious friendliness.
To trick your body into reacting, you can try this visualization technique. Picture a good friend that you lost touch with and then suddenly you are in a Starbucks and you see them. Now obviously you’re not going to go run up to your interview subject and embrace like you might your old friend. Act like a normal human and say hi and shake their hand and smile. This technique isn’t about the words. It’s about how you feel internally, the energy you give off and how you make them feel.

3. Make them feel safe.

When approaching someone under stress, there’s a warming up process you have to go through first because people are afraid of being judged. Let them know you care about them, and acknowledge there is other stuff going on in their lives. Make them feel valued. This could be as simple as, “thanks for meeting me, I know you’re busy.”

4. Come across as credible to everyone.

Beware of the appearance of lying. If you feel uncomfortable or intimidated by the person you are talking to, problems could arise. Whether you are talking to a person you are attracted to, a co-worker, your boss, or a subject during an interview there are a few things to keep in mind. Refrain from shifting, touching your face, rubbing your nose, picking your nails, touching your neck, folding your arms, rounding your shoulders or biting your lip. Of course context of the situation matters. A lip bite on a date means something totally different.

5. Don’t be a jerk.

Devices should be turned off when you meet with people you want to persuade. Turn off the phone, look them in the eye, listen and pay attention.

A few taboo topics to avoid are race, accents, religion, politics and cultural heritage. Avoid jokes with sexual undertones. Unless you’re Betty White, it’s uncomfortable. My favorite question to ask people is “what’s the most annoying thing people say to you in your profession?” I’ve been taking cabs to and from the airport every week for the last 4 years. I’ve learned cab drivers find it most rude when someone asks “Where you from and why are you here.” Don’t be that jerk.

6. Demonstrate empathy and understanding.

Saying “uh huh” is definitely better than a blank stare, and there are better options. Try short supportive statements like “I can appreciate you decided that,” or “I understand why you would say that.” When you respond in complete sentences you come across as more articulate, and your listener feels that you really understand.

7. Have something in common with as many people as possible.

Ever go to a party with a significant other and you don’t know anyone there? Then you find someone that you click with and gravitate to that person for the night. It’s likely because you had something in common with that person. Having something in common is the quickest way to rapport. People like people like themselves. Familiarize yourself with other worlds so you can discuss just about anything with anybody, no matter how little you have in common. Get a magazine you wouldn’t typically read. Follow different people on twitter. If you do this every other month, soon you’ll know a little about a lot.
Half of communication is physical behavior and tone. Less than 10% of communication is about the words. If you’ve ever sent a text message or email that was misinterpreted, you know that tone and physical behavior matter. Remember to focus on your own behavior and energy when building rapport.

A Genuine Smile

Laughing - Perceptions of Fake and Legitimate Laughter - Humintell A smile is the universal welcome, the writer Max Eastman once remarked. But how sure can we be that a person’s smile is genuine? The answer is the empathy test, created by psychologist Richard Wiseman, which probes our ability to appreciate the feelings of others – from their appearance.

A photographer asks a subject to imagine meeting an individual they don’t like and to put on a fake smile. Later the subject sits with a real friend and as they converse, the photographer records their genuine smile. Thus two versions of their smile are recorded.

The question is: how easy is it to tell the difference? “If you lack empathy, you are very bad at differentiating between the two photographs,” says Wiseman, who teaches at the University of Hertfordshire.

But how do professions differ in their ability to spot a fake? And in particular, how do scientists and journalists score? Neither are particularly renowned for their empathy, after all. Last month’s Scientists Meet the Media party, for which the Observer is the media sponsor, gave Wiseman a perfect opportunity to compare the two professions.

At the party, hosted by the Science Museum in London, some of Britain’s top researchers mingled with UK science journalists. About 150 guests were shown photographs of subjects with fake and genuine smiles. Guests were then asked to spot the false and the true. The results were intriguing.

“The public normally gets around 60% right, which is above the chance level of 50%,” says Wiseman. “Partygoers got 66% which is significantly higher while there was some difference between age groups: under-40s did slightly better than over-40s.”

However, the real difference came with professions: physical scientists got 60% right; biological scientists 66% and journalists a very impressive 73%. But they were all eclipsed by social scientists, with 80% – though only four took part, making their results less significant.

As to the difference between the two photographs above, it is the one on the right that is false. “You use more face muscles when you have a genuine smile and you see that in the lines round the eyes of the subject which crinkle up more,” says Wiseman. The eyes have it, in short.

Why We All Need to Practice Emotional First Aid

We’ll go to the doctor when we feel flu-ish or a nagging pain. So why don’t we see a health professional when we feel emotional pain: guilt, loss, loneliness? Too many of us deal with common psychological-health issues on our own, says Guy Winch. But we don’t have to. He makes a compelling case to practice emotional hygiene — taking care of our emotions, our minds, with the same diligence we take care of our bodies.

Face-to-Face Socializing More Powerful than Phone Calls, Emails in Guarding against Depression

grandmother and granddaughterIn a slight knock on digital and telephone communications, a new study points to the unsurpassed mental health benefits of regular face-to-face social interactions among older adults. Study participants who regularly met in person with family and friends were less likely to report symptoms of depression, compared with participants who emailed or spoke on the phone. The gains people derived from face-to-face socializing endured even years later. The findings were published online today in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

“Research has long supported the idea that strong social bonds strengthen people’s mental health. But this is the first look at the role that the type of communication with loved ones and friends plays in safeguarding people from depression. We found that all forms of socialization aren’t equal. Phone calls and digital communication, with friends or family members, do not have the same power as face-to-face social interactions in helping to stave off depression,” says Alan Teo, M.D., M.S., lead author, assistant professor of psychiatry at Oregon Health & Science University, and researcher at the VA Portland Health Care System.

Teo and colleagues assessed more than 11,000 adults aged 50 and older in the United States who participated in the longitudinal Health and Retirement Study at the University of Michigan.

Researchers examined the frequency of in-person, telephone and written social contact, including email. Then they looked at the risk of depression symptoms two years later, adjusting for potential confounding factors including health status, how close people lived from family and preexisting depression.

The researchers found that having little face-to-face social contact nearly doubles your risk of having depression two years later. They also reported that having more or fewer phone conversations, or written or email contact, had no effect on depression.

Study participants who met up with family and friends at least three times a week had the lowest level of depressive symptoms two years later – 6.5 percent – than those who had less frequent contact. Individuals who met up just once every few months or less frequently had an 11.5 percent chance of depressive symptoms.

The study also detected significant differences between the types of individuals – family member versus friend – that participants should socialize with in order to have the most impact on their depression levels. The researchers found that among adults aged 50 to 69, frequent in-person contact with friends reduced subsequent depression. In contrast, adults 70 and older benefited from in-person contact with children and other family members.

Scientists who contributed to the study, “Does Mode of Contact with Different Types of Social Relationships Predict Depression Among Older Adults? Evidence from a Nationally Representative Survey,” include: Teo; HwaJung Choi, Ph.D.; Sarah B. Andrea, M.P.H.; Marcia Valenstein, M.D., M.S.; Jason T. Newsom, Ph.D.; Steven K. Dobscha, M.D., OHSU; Kara Zivin, Ph.D.

This study was supported, in part, by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Department of Veterans Affairs (IIR 10-176). Teo is supported by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Teo designed and began the study while a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholar at University of Michigan and completed the study at the VA Portland Health Care System.

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