November 01, 2010
Your job position demands that you build strong relationships, beginning with first impressions. You think you have what it takes, but would like a primer on what can be most effective in making that first impression the best it can be.
Humans tend to discriminate quickly against others, and we used to think that it was because they were different from us, ergo “wrong.” But recent research has led to findings that we look mostly at two components when judging people: warmth & competence
Warmth: friendly and showing good intent
Competence: able to deliver on that good intent
The research indicated that when judging groups of people, observers tended to jump to conclusions that the group was more likely to be less competent if they were observed as warm, and vice versa. ** This infers that being strong in one area may create a perceived weakness in the other. hmmm….
Consider the last 3 people that you met. What would each say about you as a first impression? Are you more likely to be referred to as warm? Or are you more likely to be referred to as cool yet professional.
If the first (you are seen as warm), then your impression of being competent may be at risk. If the second (you are seen as cool), then your impression of being seen as warm, and maybe easier to work with, may be at risk.
Noodle on that a bit and try adjusting your image to leverage both warmth and competence as strong traits. As with any adaptation, do not go overboard—strong changes in behavior are often seen as manipulative.
** Ref: Mixed Impressions, Scientific American Mind, January/February 2010