I’m not just referring to your hairstyle or shiny shoes. I’m talking about how you carry yourself, your facial expressions, and, yes, how well groomed you are.
In his new book Power, Why Some People Have It — And Others Don’t, Stanford University Graduate School of Business professor and author Jeffrey Pfeffer writes about the tremendous power of first impressions. ”People start forming impressions of you in the first few seconds or even milliseconds of contact. Impressions aren’t just based on extensive information about you, your behavior, and what you can do as manifested in job performance, but also on initial readings of your facial expressions, posture, voice and appearance.” This makes sense. We’re visual creatures first and foremost. And while our economic systems have evolved over centuries, many of our primitive behaviors and modes of thinking haven’t.
You may be thinking, well, don’t first impressions change? According to extensive research reported in Power, first impressions are “remarkably accurate in predicting other more durable and important evaluations.” Oh boy.
This research also indicates that the impressions made in the first few seconds match those formed after 5 to 10 minutes of interaction. Moreover, those impressions persist over time. Why? People are highly reluctant to change their impressions after forming them earlier on.
Of course we have to be competent, hard working, politically astute professionals in order to succeed, but never underestimate the value of even seemingly trivial visual cues you give others.
Sure, there are many days that I can’t be bothered with dressing up for work. After all, who REALLY notices anyway, right?
You never know when you’ll be meeting a new colleague, new client or new talent.
Remember, those first impressions stick…like crazy glue!