We all make snap judgments of other people within a matter of seconds. But what exactly are we evaluating? Amy Cuddy, a professor at Harvard Business School, together with psychologists Susan Fiske and Peter Glick studied first impressions for more than 15 years, and they have discovered certain patterns.
When people meet us for the first time they ask themselves these two questions:
- Can I trust this person?
- Can I respect this person?
As the study has revealed, the majority of people, especially in professional circles, give more importance to a person’s competence. This makes sense, because people want to prove they are smart and talented enough to cope with the work.
But, in reality, such traits as empathy and reliability are the main qualities on which people evaluate you.
’From an evolutionary perspective,’ Cuddy says, ’it is more crucial to our survival to know whether a person deserves our trust.’ Referring to the caveman days, for our ancestors it was more important to determine whether someone was going to kill you and steal all your belongings than to figure out whether they were competent enough to make a fire.
However, Cuddy doesn’t deny the importance of a person’s skills and experience. According to the professor, these qualities ARE evaluated but only after trust is established. And focusing too much on displaying your intelligence and strength can lead to undesirable results.
If someone who you are trying to impress doesn’t trust you, you will be unable to establish a good relationship with them. Before you can expect others to appreciate your professional qualities, you first have to create the image of a reliable, trustworthy, and good-hearted person.
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