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First Impresión in Everyday Life Published: Sunday, August 20, 2000 By: Dr. Manuel Angel Morales

Of course, it is a turbulent, difficult and complex world, not to say a crazy one. People who may be instrumental in your development and success at work can develop an unfavorable impression of you within a short time of 20 seconds after a kind of interaction with you. It takes a lot of effort and time to overcome an unfavorable first impression. All this, assuming that you know that the impression was unfavorable. First impression never go away completely. The worst part about first impressions is that we make tem usually within 20 seconds. In that short period of time, a false assessment is very possible.

It is a sloppy way of doing things. We want to be fast and economical, so we classify people and apply labels because our mind does not want to invest effort in a deeper assessment of what the eyes and ears may perceiving. This psychological phenomena is called stereotyping...

We rely on labels and stereotypes thinking to form judgments that are not necessarily based on true facts. Unfortunately, we haven`t the time to analyze everything in a profound manner, so we often search for easy exits... There are two sensitive problems with this kind of orientation: (1) We seldom admit that our judgments are wrong, or a little bit wrong; (2) The higher the tendency of using labels, stereotypes and quick judgments, the higher the possibility off making a mistake. Needless to say, this condition affects the workplace. Appraisals and decisions made on a first impression could directly affect the work and career situation of people, and sometimes for a long time. How many timer have you heard someone declare: Michael, my first impression of you was wrong, seldom. It takes wisdom and maturity to acknowledge mistakes.

There are some researched factors that have great influence on the assessment of people you meet for the first time: (1) The tone and pitch of the person`s voice. (2) His possible choice of topics. (3) The use of certain words and phrases which instill interest. (4) His grooming and clothes. (5) Facial expressions and body language. (6) The apparent impression that he is trying to make. (7) Overall attitude and possible motivations. (8) Flattery and platitudes.

Using the above dimensions as an interaction guide it can help you improve your own capability to judge others on a first meeting and better present yourself in everyday life. Remember the following: (1) Avoid any indication of hostility or bad temper. (2) Do not use profane language. (3) Keep any anger about any thing to yourself. (4) Show no signs of fear. (5) Do not show any signs of lack of interest. Human beings like other human beings that can pay attention.

Finally, if possible prepare yourself in advance. Try topics of common interest. Stand straight and provide a firm (yet soft) handshake. Appear confident and act confidently. Be sure you put the other party at ease. When speaking keep a balance between the level of quality, pitch, tone and pace.

Always reinforce good points with key expressions and body language. The learning game is about observing yourself and others...

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