First impressions are so crucial, yet can be so inaccurate.
Count to seven.
New York University’s Stern Business School concluded several years ago that it takes about seven seconds for people to make decisions about us—or me about them. Within moments determinations are made about socioeconomic level, sexual orientation, religious, political, ethnic and educational backgrounds, and credibility/trustworthiness.
Whether someone thinks goodly of us in those first seconds or not can make or break any possible future relationships–professional and personal. And our lenses do get cloudy. For instance, psychological studies have shown that people whom are at first thought of as warm and engaging, will be thought of in a positive light despite any displays of being distracted or self absorbed later in the relationship. That is to say, the first bits of info we get about anything (people, places, ideas) influences the way we process later info. (I reference this book throughout this blog entry: First Impressions, by Ann Demarais and Valerie White, Bantam Dell, 2004)
Which is also saying that if someone makes a negative determination about us in those first few seconds (or I do about them) not only is it not positive for the possibility of any future developments, but if given the chance, or chances, as it were, it takes many positive behaviors to counteract the one perceived negative one.
We all judge books by their cover. I hesitate to admit it, but I am always relearning this lesson again and again as someone on both sides of the table.
Unfortunately, upon initial meetings we are unable to display all of our best traits as our close friends and colleagues see them. However, there are certain things we can do that in our American culture are universally accepted as positive behaviors crossing gender, socio-economic, sexual orientation, political and educational backgrounds.
For example, being a good listener is valuable, as is smiling, showing interest and taking turns speaking.
So much goes into first impressions we sometimes forget more is under the surface.
I was intrigued by Henry Rollins and his experience: