Why not “What are their character and morals?” (which may be the questions you ask down the line)
According to the study, for better or worse – people make these snap judgments right when they meet you.
The reason is the lack of time and cognitive energy it takes to learn how complex someone is before an important decision about them needs to be made.
The period between first meeting someone & the reason they’re meeting (i.e. an interview, trying to get her number, the 5-min hitting on her in a busy social setting) is not long enough to get to know their idiosyncrasies, habits, and quirks.
They only have a first impression to base their opinion on.
If it’s a bad one, you have to work twice as hard to earn their trust.
In 2016, with technology occupying societies attention more than ever, quick decisions have become second nature.
Who do I hire?
Who do I fire?
Will this person work well in a team?
Will this person be innovative?
Will they be lazy?
Can they accomplish the job?
Do they have the necessary skills?
Should I give him my number?
Should I say yes to going on a date?
These opinions are formed rapidly, and usually within the first 10 seconds.
Basically to sum it all up…
Can I trust you?
Are you competent?
This is why your immediate visual presentation is just as strong as your long term actions.
It’s your job to present yourself as trustworthy.
At What Point Does Judging Become Wrong?
When you ask someone if they judge people, their answer is usually “of course not!” for fear of being labeled hateful or bigoted.
But political correctness aside…
Imagine this scenario.
You’re a single mother at home with your kid.
Someone knocks on your door.
If you don’t know the person, do you assess the situation based on their appearance?
It’s these quick decision scenarios where a judgment must be made.
While that may be an extreme example safe or in danger, the same thought process happens at a subconscious level in everyday scenarios.
Maybe it’s an interview, or meeting your girlfriend’s father. Do you come off as reliable or a liability?
You could almost make the argument that it’s a survivability instinct. Although I haven’t found any research directly linking first impressions to survivability, it would be an interesting study to conduct.
It’s also just as important to note the margins for error.
Is someone stereotyping based on race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, nationality or status?
Unfortunately, these are serious issues that need to be considered. But that’s for another article.
If you strip away people’s feelings we can all agree that at some level, presentation matters.
It’s hard to accept that people form instant opinions that may or may not be true.
Still happen? Yes.
The good news is we can control ourselves, which means we can control our own judgements of others.
In fact, knowing this should motivate you to work harder to NOT judge.
At the same time, we shouldn’t be naive. People will form opinions for better or worse.
While we can’t control if others judge us, we CAN manage the impressions formed about us.
How? Through our presentation.
The White Coat Effect
Picture this scenario:
You have a sick child.
You have to take them a brand new doctor.
You arrive on time, wait 30-minutes.
You finally get into a room and get their vitals checked.
Another 15 minutes pass waiting for the pediatrician.
Finally, you hear a knock on the door.
It opens up and the person standing in front of you is in a t-shirt & jeans, barely shakes your hand, and doesn’t look you in the eye.
Will you question his authority? Would your intuition kick in and ask “Can I trust this person? Are they qualified?”
He hasn’t said a word yet, and he’s already betrayed your expectations in the first 10 seconds.
Would you half expect the actual doctor in the white overcoat to come running in saying “Sorry, the patient from room 5 likes to walk in on other’s?” Then Ashton Kutcher pops out of the bathroom and yells you’ve been punk’d (90’s kids anyone)?
When your child is sick you expect the professional MD in a white doctor’s coat, who went through 12 years of medical school, to walk in and confidently diagnose your ill son or daughter.