We would like to think of ourselves as non-judgmental people who base people purely off of their skills, abilities, and personality rather than our first thoughts on them, but unfortunately that is not the case. Rarely are we aware of how first impressions affect how we interact with people, and by understanding out thought process of first impressions, we can gain a valuable upper hand when meeting new people in any situation.
Consider this man:
Upon looking at this image, we automatically assume things about him. Subconsciously, we form a lot of thoughts about him, and our overall impression of him is probably that he is a powerful, successful man who is very determined and knowledgeable.
Suppose this man walks up to you and starts up a conversation. How would you be behaving? Because of your initial impression of him, you would be conversing with caution. You would not give off harsh opinions on anything due to the worry that this man will disagree with you. He asks if he can borrow a pen. You would be more inclined than normal to lend one. He gives an opinion. You would be more inclined to agree with him.
Now, what happened here? You are treating a random man from the street with more respect than usual. How does he give off such an impression to you? Such is the power of first impressions. They are applied everywhere, from a regular school interaction to a corporate business meeting. First impressions can completely twist how we normally behave towards others. Let’s analyze what we are thinking upon meeting a new person.
When we see someone for the first time, the very first aspect of them we notice is the appearance. We buy clothes because they’re comfortable, or because we think they look nice on us. We are aware that other people may see us differently, but not many are aware of how much of an impact it can make on one’s first impression of them.
Purely based off the clothes one is wearing, people can judge their level of financial success, their occupation, their cultural background, and even their personality.
The next aspects we notice about them are their movements, their actions. Do they seem to walk with confidence, or do they have a sloppy posture? Do they maintain eye contact, or shy away from them? Are they able to stand still, or are they fidgety? Even before you hear the person speak, your brain has made several in-depth judgments on the person in question. This will affect how you treat them right from the start.
You may have noticed that this short explanation of how first impressions work is quite superficial. Where’s the paragraph on personality? Conversational ability? Level of intelligence? Their attitude?
The fact is that to make a powerful, positive first impression, none of these are required; if one is clever in being initially seen as such, they can bypass all the other aspects a good person needs and obtain an incredible upper hand over the people they interact with. This could make or break business deals, job interviews, and boy/girlfriend relationships.
*I’m not encouraging maintaining an overly false image. It is inevitable that your true self will be revealed sooner or later.*
In future upcoming articles, I will explain in-depth how your sense of fashion, style, and body language affects how others view you, and how they should be maintained for maximum impact.