From JJ’s blog: Importance of First Impression


Most of us have learned to rely on our first impressions or gut instincts when we met someone new. Surprisingly, that brief first encounter can give you enough information to make a judgment about another person. On the spot we can decide if we like or dislike that person.

It has been speculated that we can size up another person in just a few seconds. There are visual cues for us to read such facial features, posture, mannerisms, body type, grooming, and dress. We can also listen to the person’s voice. Additionally, we can use our since of smell. And, there is the ubiquitous handshake.  The sum of these observations allow us make that first impression.

All this may sound shallow, but a research team of psychologists from Canada and Belgium believe that this process is very real and pretty accurate. Additionally, that first impression lasts forever or so it seems. A first impression is a like a “halo effect” which influences our desire to engage with that person. Said another way, once we come to a conclusion about someone, it may take a mountain of new information and experiences to change our mind.

Knowing that others are making the same judgment about us, the average person will smile and offer a hearty handshake at a first meeting.  Two common examples include a job interview or a first date. In both cases, the objective is to make the most favorable first impression with the goal to get to the next interview or the second date.

Often the first encounter strategy is to not say or do anything stupid. Many people fear that they might slip up and say or do something that might offend the other party. Thus, they are guarded about their behavior. Rather than truly saying how they feel or what they really want, many people will be overly careful and artificial. In my opinion, this behavior is inauthentic and does not contribute to our ultimate happiness.

While we can shower and groom before a first encounter, we cannot change the biases that others have. In fact, there may be little that we can do to alter the opinion that they have of us.

My recommendation is to be authentic and to show your true colors. If you don’t get the job because of someone’s biases, take it in stride and move on to the next opportunity. It is likely their loss anyway. If your date finds you unattractive, so be it. There is always someone else.

Life is short. Why engage with people that judge you so harshly? Instead, spend your time with others that appreciate you for who you are.



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