The Science of First Impressions

First Impression

The Science of First Impressions

We’ve all had the experience of meeting someone for the first time and formulating our first impression of that person. We even wonder what impression they have of us. That first impression is extremely important to us as human beings – more than we may even realize.

Dr. Amy Cuddy of Harvard Business School and author of Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges says, “When we form a first impression of another person it’s not really a single impression. We’re really forming two. We’re judging how warm and trustworthy the person is, and that’s trying to answer the question, ‘What are this person’s intentions toward me?’ And we’re also asking ourselves, ‘How strong and competent is this person?’ That’s really about whether or not they’re capable of enacting their intentions.”

Amy’s research shows that these two questions account for 80 to 90 percent of an overall first impression, and that holds true across cultures. Put another way most people when they meet you want to know if they can trust you AND if you are strong enough of character and competent enough to follow through on what you say you will do.

And guess what? It only takes a few minutes for them to decide and walk away with either a positive first impression or a negative one. So what happens if we leave them with a negative first impression? How difficult is it to change the impression they have of us?

According to Cuddy, it’s a big uphill battle. Her research shows that when we leave a negative first impression with someone, it takes eight subsequent POSITIVE encounters to overcome that single negative first impression. This means that the next time we meet that person, we are starting with a huge deficit and that each of the next 8 meetings with that person have to go well before we’re into positive territory.

So what can we do to ensure that we leave a better first impression? Check out our blog post: Making A Better First Impression.

At True North Professional Development, we can help you develop strategies that can build your interpersonal skills. Give us a call at 425.835.2124 to learn more about our Business Coaching or how our Success-Minded Leader programs can impact your abilities.

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