Why your 1st impression may be your last

What first impression should you be making?

In her new book, “Presence”, Harvard Business School Professor Amy Cuddy explains that when someone meets you for the first time, they ask themselves two important questions:

1.Can I trust this person?
2.Can I respect this person?

Psychologists interpret this as you’re 1. a warm person or 2. a competent one.

We of course might want to be both, with emphasis on competence if we’re applying for a new role. But actually it’s trustworthiness and warmth that other people are looking for in you.

“From an evolutionary perspective,” Cuddy says, “it is more crucial to our survival to know whether a person deserves our trust.” This statement has its roots in evolution and neuroscience – for a caveman it was more important to know if his fellow man was going to kill him and steal his belongings, than it was to know if he was competent enough to find wood and build a good fire.

Cuddy argues competence is evaluated only after trust is established – focusing too much on presenting your strengths can have a negative result.

Spend too much time showing how smart and talented you are, never ask for help, rarely socialise and you’ll come across as unapproachable. You’ll appear as untrustworthy and unreliable simply because you didn’t let people get to know you better.

Cuddy says: 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.”

Keep this in mind when meeting someone for the first time. Talk to them freely and openly and let them trust you, completely.

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