It doesn't take long to make a terrible first impression.
First impressions can be powerful and long-lasting, so you'd think they would take a lot of time and consideration when being formed. Sadly, that's not the case.
A first impression takes about 7 seconds — 7 fast, little seconds that might make or break your career, or influence your future spouse that you're worthy of speaking to. It isn't that you're following your intuition, as these instincts aren't coming from your gut; they're a type of unconscious thinking called rapid cognition.
"I think the word intuition is a loaded word. It's loaded with so many negative connotations," said Malcolm Gladwell, author of the book Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking. The book uses the description rapid cognition instead of intuition. "We think of intuition as not rigorous, as all about some weird unfathomable emotion."
The powerful ability to quickly go through huge amounts of surface information subconsciously, and decide what's most important without taking any extra time is called thin-slicing.
"Thin-slicing is not an exotic gift. It is a central part of what it means to be human. We thin-slice whenever we met a new person or have to make sense of something quickly or encounter a novel situation.
We thin-slice because we have to, and we come to rely on that ability because there are lots of situations where careful attention to details of a very thin slice, even for no more than a second or two, can tell us an awful lot," said Gladwell in his book.
Here are 3 things you can do to make a better first impression, because you don't have much time to do it:
- Be open. People who are open and communicate with their hands, and have expressive faces, are better liked than more difficult-to-read people.
- Do your research. We're also inclined to like people we have something in common with (similarity attraction hypothesis), so find out about your possible new bosses' likes before starting employment at a new job.
- Be a good listener. It may seem basic, but showing someone you're interested in what they're saying creates a very favorable first impression. And who doesn't want to seem fascinating?