The 0.1 Second that Determines Your First Impression and Likeability

by | Mar 16, 2016 | Food for Thought | 0 comments

It only takes 0.1 seconds to create a first impression.


That’s right. 0.1 seconds


That means making the first impression is almost instantaneous.


Communication is both verbal and non-verbal. Oftentimes non-verbal communication (body language, speech pattern, facial gestures and physical appearance) hits the subconscious mind faster in a subtle, unintentional and unconscious mannerAccording to Princeton psychologists Janine Willis and Alexander Todorov, people respond to faces faster than the formation of rational thought.



There’s No Second Chance at Making a Great First Impression

In my previous post I briefly mentioned that our brains run on auto pilot when it pertains to making judgments. This is more apparent when we meet someone for the first time. In fact, your first impression leaves a deep imprint on the people you met for the first time. On subsequent meetings, it is often used as a yardstick for all future communications.


Hence, the (lasting) first impression you want to portray will have to be intentional and on purpose. You need to put your act together real fast. Judgments based on facial appearance play a powerful role in how we treat others, and how we get treated.


Intentionally create the desired effects of unintentional signals entering the subconscious minds of the people you are about to meet. The way you project your body language and physical appearance determine how you will be perceived by every person who meets you.  


There’s no second chance when it comes to making a great first impression.    



Make Every First Impression Count 

“We judge books by their covers, and we can’t help but do it. As soon as one sees another person, an impression is formed. This happens so quickly — just a small fraction of a second — that what we see can sometimes dominate what we know” said Nicholas Rule (Ph.D.) of the University of Toronto.


Since you can’t avoid being perceived, the next best thing is to be perceived in a positive manner. Here are some steps you can take to help you get hired for a job, have a successful first date and make lots of friends at social settings:


1  Pay extra detail to your appearance
How you look should not matter as much as your personality. Unfortunately appearance matters. Especially when it comes to making a first impression.

Thus, to be appropriately dressed according to the occasion is important. If you have doubts about dress codes, remember that being overdressed is better than being underdressed.

Check for clothing stains, chipped nails, excessively oily hair and any form of ‘unkemptness’. When you take pride in your appearance, it gives the impression that you value yourself and have confidence.


2  Pay attention to your non-verbal communication
Your body language communicates volumes about you without you being aware of it. Harvard Business School Social psychologist Amy Cuddy’s research on body language reveals that by you changing your body positions, you can change how others perceive you.

According to Amy, who had studied first impressions for more than 15 years, first impressions are formed based on two key criteria – warmth and competence.

To establish that you are a warm and trustworthy person – have an open and approachable posture, establish pleasant eye contact and exude a genuine smile. And refrain from bone-crushing handshakes.


3  Be mindful of your thoughts
Be aware of the first impression you want to create. Your thought must be aligned with your actions and intentions. When you are congruent, your internal feelings and thoughts are in harmony with your actual experience of the world around you.

If you have critical and judgmental thoughts, your goal of being perceived as warm and approachable will fail because you are incongruent and conflicted.


4  Focus on others
Pay more attention to the person you are communicating with and place less focus on yourself. Ask genuine questions and be sincere about being interested in them. He or she will sense your sincerity and genuine interest in them.



Why First Impressions Matter

Impressions other people make of us are based on mental representations. These are mental imagery which may involve hearing, sight, taste or smell. Within a fraction of a second of an initial meeting, their brain starts to search for hints (physical appearance, speech pattern, non-verbal cues) to form an impression.


First impressions are crucial because they tend to be long lasting and indelible. You will not get a second chance to create the first impression.


First impressions are created in 0.1 seconds. That’s LESS than a split second.


Make it count.

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