How to make a good first impression?

Photo by Nik Macmillan on

Photo by Nik Macmillan on

How long does it take for someone to form a first impression? A few seconds. The good news is that you can influence the impression cast. Here’s how.

What’s on everyone’s mind?
When people meet you for the first time there are two things on their mind.

  • Can they trust you?
  • Can they respect you?

The criteria embedded in these questions are the dimensions of warmth and competence.

Research findings
The research in this area, shows that people believe that in professional settings competence is more important than warmth. That is, they seek talented, smart people to assist them with business.

Develop trust, then convey competence
Despite this, the most important factor in how people actually evaluate people is on their perceived warmth and trustworthiness. It seems that in fact, competence is evaluated only after trust is established.

These findings are from research conducted by Amy Cuddy (Harvard psychologist) and others. They suggest that people who are concerned about conveying their competence, often overlook social interactions that would enhance rapport building. This comes at a cost of seeming unapproachable.

… then influence …
Trust is an important precursor to being able to influence someone. Cuddy suggests:

a warm trustworthy person who is also strong elicits admiration, but only after you’ve established trust, does your strength become a gift rather than a threat

This all underpins the importance of relationship and rapport building, before trying to influence decisions or choices. Competence is always going to be a critical determinant of choice of business partner or service provider, but is not primary selection criterion.

Challenges with e-commerce
The world of e-commerce and online business, presents challenging contexts for developing rapport and building relationships. The place for human interaction is important and I would suggest, important to be retained in establishing business partnerships.

What do you think?

Reference: “A Harvard psychologist says people judge you based on 2 criteria when they first meet you” by Jenn Goudreau, Business Insider Australia, Dec 29, 2016.

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