Business man 1What do you project when you present yourself in the workplace? Research led by the Harvard Business School says that when people make judgments about us in a business setting, they look first at two characteristics: How likeable or trustworthy (warm) are we? And how competent (strong) are we? Most people try to emphasize their strength or competence on the job. But sociology and psychology research shows that people who project strength before establishing trust run the risk of generating fear and apprehension. In other words, warmth is judged before competence. Or put another way, before people decide what they think of your message, they decide what they think of you.


Some ways to project warmth:

▪ Speak with lower pitch/volume

▪ Validate feelings

▪ Smile, nod, open arms/hands


Some ways to project strength:

▪ Feel confident and in control

▪ Stand up straight

▪ Move with purpose and precision


For more information on this topic, see the July-August 2013 issue of the Harvard Business Review.