Everyone sizes up everyone that meet in a split second. While the most open-minded and enlightened people let their views of others evolve, everything we see gets factored into decision making.
If you’re having problems with a negative stereotype about you, the problem is that that stereotype is providing more information about you than any other source.
I have clients of all races. Have had clients from every continent, and very many countries. And I’ve noticed something time and time again: Students who succeed have positive characteristics that dominate your first impression of them.
Students who don’t are bland, which leaves people’s split second judges of them to chance.
A characteristic is said to dominate another when it gets factored before that characteristic. For instance, clothing dominates race – what you’re wearing gets factored into how people judge each other before your skin color. Put this way – if you see a Brazilian guy in an Armani suit, you say – Rich Brazilian guy, not Brazilian rich guy.
But the fact that he’s rich doesn’t make you forget that he’s a Brazilian gentleman – so you’re going to factor in your past experiences with people from Brazil when you size him up instantly.
So here’s the crux of it – if some characteristics about you aren’t great for the area you’re in, or you don’t believe it works well for you, you want to get other characteristics that dominate those traits. Even if your stereotypical characteristics are advantageous to you – tall, square-jawed Brazilian guy – you can still evolve past that. If people’s SECOND impression of you is that you’re a
tall, square-jawed Brazilian, then you’re in really great shape.
Now the real deal – what if you’re the wrong type for whatever you want to do? What if you’re applying for a job in a racist country, what if you’re shorter than everyone around you in a place
that values height, what if you don’t have the same pedigree that is expected of someone to enter a certain social circle?
The key is – overdomination.
Traits that dominate get consideration first, and then other traits are looked at.
Traits that OVERDOMINATE are traits that make you forget about the other characteristics of the person. The other traits become irrelevant in light of such a large, dominating trait.
Power is a classical overdominating trait. If you see a very powerful guy, it makes largely irrelevant what the rest of him is.
You see powerful men of all types. Even an ardent racist is going to respect Samuel L. Jackson.
Charisma is a classical overdominating trait. If you see a very charismatic guy, it makes largely irrelevant what the rest of him is. Even though he’s only 5²6, Tom Cruise absolutely glows.
In the last month, I’ve met a mix of very interesting people. One was a gentleman who was truly insightful – he’s a world traveller,
a scholar, enlightened and brilliant and charming. He’s got wild stories of his travels through North America and the Orient, and he
talks with rapture about dangerous attempts of criminals to trying to rob or extort him.
He laughs at the time that he got scammed twice in the same night, and laughs with a sense of dignity – he learned the lesson, and the anecdote was worth the few dollars.
He’ll make more money, and if he doesn’t, money won’t be an issue.
A renaissance man, if you will, that is knowledgeable about history and art but dresses in sharp, tailored high fashion.
Oh yeah, and he’s a medium-built Chinese-Canadian guy that’s average height and with a so-so physique.
It’s the last thing you notice – when he’s on, he combines power and charm, and they overdominate his other characteristics. If you met him, you’d like him.
I hear men worry about their height, race, nationality, accent, age, and all sorts of other traits frequently.
I’ll tell you when you’re in trouble – when the first thing someone notices about you is that you’re short, or that you’re young, or that you’re a particular race. That happens to people who have no characteristics more interesting than those traits.
Now, those traits will still stereotype you to people as a second impression if you get some traits that dominate them. For instance, looking corporate will get noticed before your
ethnicity. Your race will still be factored, but you’ll get all the stereotypes about being corporate (doesn’t care about the environment, really damn busy, resents poor people, is extremely good in bed) before you get the ones about your race.
And if you really put yourself together extremely well, eventually you come to stand for an idea, and an ideal. One of the most successful clients I’ve ever had the blessing to teach was an extremely successful professional who, without a college degree, moved through various entrepreneurial endeavors and then worked his way up the chain in the construction industry until he’s now making piles of money.
He’s a short guy, with an unexceptional physique. His clothes aren’t extremely high end, either – he usually wears Levi’s. But he’s got it – characteristics that overdominate.
Gets shit done.
These characteristics can be built over time. A good place to start is with your nonverbals – right now, we’re going to work on it.
From behind your monitor, indulge me for five minutes.
Push your shoulders as far back as you can, so that they’re even tense.
Push your chest as far out as you can.
Suck your stomach in.
Tilt your head upwards – your chin should be slightly above parallel to the ground.
Now take a deep breath, hold it, now exhale, and let your muscles relax and be not tense.
When you walk, go S-Squared: Smooth and Slow. All your actions should be smooth and slow, which entails thinking about everything before you do it. Be the observed, not the observer.
That’s the start of developing some power about you.
If your first impression is excellent and unique, your second impression – the stuff you can’t change – becomes less important.
And when you seem extremely powerful to random people who meet you, or extremely charming, completely stylish, or like an amazing leader – then secondary characteristics about you won’t even factor.