Love at first site might be more important and common than you think.

Certainly research suggests that the impression we develop of an individual for the long term is largely established in the first 30 seconds of contact.

In this first thirty seconds, drawing on a range of sources we take in the information we need to for an initial impression. That is not perhaps surprising.

What might be more surprising now ever is the extent to which we apply selective attention and a sophisticated rationalisation process – not to test our initial impression – but to confirm it. After the first 30 seconds we largely see what we want to see and interpret much of the incoming data in the parameters of our original impression.

So, whoever it was that said – FIRST IMPRESSIONNS ARE everything was closer to the truth than many of us may have thought. Selective attention and ‘post decision rationalisation’ are unconscious but nonetheless powerful forces.

This is not to say that impressions never change, but change is uncommon and the degree of change is limited.

So what cues are most commonly used to form that first impression?

They include:
– Personal grooming
– Personal attire
– Body language
– Initial greeting

People make instant judgements based on your hair and personal cleanliness, the presentation of your nails, and the quality of your accessories.

People make instant judgements based on your clothing how well your clothing is pressed, your shoes and how clean your shoes are.

People make judgements on the basis of how you stand, how open that stance is, your use of eye contact, your speed of movement and your handshake. I wet fish handshake will live with you for ever.

People will make instant judgements on the basis of the warmth and sincerity of your greeting, the language you use and the extent to which you listen to their greeting and response.

Not only WILL PEOPLE make instant judgements on the basis of these ‘signs’ – YOU DO TOO.

We are all people and as much as we would all like to think of ourselves as being different, the evidence and history suggests we are not, or at the very least are unlikely to be.

Of course a question arising from this analysis that needs to be answered related to the extent to which initial impressions or judgements are accurate. Whilst the evidence on this is far from conclusive, it may well be that we are more often right than wrong. Initial impressions might be likened to instinct.

So what are the implications of all of this? They are of course many, and include:
– Make sure you know what the right impression is.
– Make sure you know how to reflect that impression
– When you develop a first impression – try to test it

The last point is very important in a high stress environment, such as an interview, where people are often not acting according to character.

Finally remember that this is not just true of you. It is true of all of your colleagues and team. It is of critical importance with client or customer facing staff.

Underestimate the first 30 seconds in any relationship or potential relationship at your peril.

Just a Thought.
This issue will be discussed in detail on THE D. JOHN CARLSON NETWORK –www.djohncarlsonesq.com/publishing

John Carlson is a behavioural scientist, strategic planner and lateral thinker focusing on branding, marketing, communication, personal advancement, business development and behaviour management.

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