03 August 2011
"It's not fair!"
Have you heard people say that being judged in an instant is not fair? Well, it may not be fair but it is a fact: first impressions matter.
So how long does it take to form a first impression? 1/10 of a second, according to recent research by Princeton University. Other research has shown that interviewers have already decided whether or not to offer someone to a job within 60 seconds of meeting them. In other words people have already judged you before you've even said anything!
Why do we make these important judgements about people so quickly? Scientists say that we evolved to make such instantaeous decisions in order to survive – a cave man had only milli-seconds to decide whether to throw his spear at the traveller charging towards him. Was the enemy about to attack or was this stranger being chased by a lion!
The Princeton research also shows that 'TRUST' and 'VALUE' are the first things we assess. 'Trust' is an emotional assessment – how do I 'feel' about this person. 'Value' is more of an 'economic' assessment – is this person 'of use' to me.
In our personal life we often have a chance to change poor first impressions , for example by meeting people regularly in a pub. However the business world is less forgiving. It takes 6-8 meetings to change a first impression. But you may not get that chance. And a first impression could even be formed before you ever meet ie through word of mouth, your website or how you answered the phone.
First impressions stick. So what impression do you want to create?