Wednesday, 5 November 2014

First impressions

As a role play actor, I sometimes convey my first impression of participants only minutes after the training workshop started.  

Often they are very surprised and slightly shocked when I give them a spot on description of their personality. "Wow. Are you a little psychic?" they ask me. 

However, there is nothing especially magical or mystical involved here . 

I merely look at their tonal (voice) and non-verbal (body language) communication. 

After having done that I ask myself a simple question: 

What FEELING is someone giving me purely by intuition? 

Since just in seconds we have already decided whether we find someone accessible, dominant, shy, observing, etc. but we often repress these initial impressions as we do not find them logical and do not wish to be too quick to judge. After all we have not spoken to that person as yet... 

For example, let us look at a job interview. The first minutes before the questions are asked: the door opens, the applicant comes in, shakes hands and sits down. If you, the employer,  intuitively perceive how capable, intelligent, expressive, confident, warm, polite or stable the candidate is, then you have sub-consciously already determined a candidates suitability before the interview formally begins.   

However we rarely say it out loud as we do not wish to offend. 

As a training actor I do say it out loud. And therefor I often get asked how someone can change the first impression they are creating. Well. I'm inclined to say... You cannot.  

Why not? 

Well, because the first impression is formed in the initial 0.03 seconds (!). 

Unfortunately, despite the fact that these initial seconds give the most information you also have the least influence on them. It is too complex and subtle.

Look at other social animals. 

They also instinctively use body language signals with each other, so they already know within seconds who is dominant, who will fall for each other, who have a conflict and who together form a bond. In other words, a pecking order is established. Thereafter the social traffic will move quickly and smoothly. 

Luckily you do have a lot of influence on your second impression. Just being aware of the first impression you make on people is half the battle. 

The moral of the story: 

If we would trust our instincts a bit more, it would save us a lot of blah-blah! 

What do you think?