To judge another human being is simply in our nature. We all judge when we meet someone for the first time. Therefore, first impressions are very important. Are you curious to find out on which criteria people base their judgment?
In order to introduce us to the topic, a Harvard psychologist reveals what are the 2 most important criteria that people pay attention to when they meet someone for the first time.
Amy Cuddy, a Harvard Business School professor, and her two colleagues, psychologists Susan Fiske and Peter Glick have been studying first impressions for 15 years and have come to a conclusion that there’s a pattern in these interactions.
In her new book “Presence”, Cuddy explains that, when someone meets you for the first time, he instantly asks himself these two questions:
- Can I trust this person?
- Can I respect this person?
Basically, in psychologists words, people judge you whether you’re a warm person or a competent one, respectively. Ideally we wish to posses both of these qualities.
Depending on the situation, people think that either the warmth or the competence of the person is important.
According to Cuddy, when it comes to professional context, more people consider competence a more relevant factor than warmth. Finally, when one is applying for a post they want to prove smart and talented enough to succeed in handling your business.
However, the truth is that warmth or trustworthiness is the most important factor according to which people are judging you.
“From an evolutionary perspective,” Cuddy says, “it is more crucial to our survival to know whether a person deserves our trust.”
This statement makes sense if we go back and think about ancient times, when for a caveman it was more important if his fellow man was going to kill him and steal his belongings whether if he was competent enough to find wood and build a good fire.
And while competence is considered as an important value which a person can posses, Cuddy explains that competence is evaluated only after trust is established. According to her, focusing too much on presenting your strength can have a negative result.
For instance, MBA interns who are so often concerned about showing how smart and talented they are, regularly skip social events, never ask for help, rarely socialize and as a result come off as unapproachable.
This type of people may have high hopes but yet somehow they stay unemployed.
They won’t get a job offer because they appear as untrustworthy and unreliable simply because they didn’t let people to know them better, see that they are a warm person too and begin to trust them.
Cuddy says: “If someone you’re trying to influence doesn’t trust you, you’re not going to get very far; in fact, you might even elicit suspicion because you come across as manipulative. 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”.
Have in mind this advice whenever you are about to go on a job interview or meet someone for the first time. Talk to them freely and openly and let them see you as a person worth trusting to. It may change your life for good.