Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

First impressions count: Harvard psychologist says you're judged by two things when meeting someone new

80608276.jpg

Is it better to be liked or respected?

It's a common workplace conundrum, and now a Harvard Business School psychologist, who has studied the science of first impressions for more than 15 years, says we are judged by two things when first meeting someone new – and the importance of each, especially in relation to career, may surprise some.

rex meeting

Having this guy behind will definitely make some kind of impression

In her book Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges, Amy Cuddy reveals the two questions everyone subconsciously asks themselves about a new person are ‘Can I trust this person?’ and ‘Can I respect this person?’, which are referred to by psychologists as ‘warmth’ and ‘competence’. And sounds a lot like the standard management dilemma many experience.

While many might believe that competence is the best quality to display first, especially in a work environment, Cuddy says from an evolutionary perspective, warmth is actually more important when new people are mentally assessing you – thus you should be more interested in them establishing trust in you as a person before having respect for your abilities.

thinkstock meeting someone new office

“Hmm, can I trust this woman not to eat my sandwiches if I leave them in the fridge?”

And she says focusing too much on displaying your strengths at work can even be detrimental – for instance, falling into the trap of never asking for help because you see it as a weakness, or not being involved in social activities actually resulting in you looking unapproachable and suspicious.

“If someone you're trying to influence doesn't trust you, you're not going to get very far,” she writes. “In fact, you might even elicit suspicion because you come across as manipulative.

“A warm, trustworthy person who is also strong elicits admiration, but only after you've established trust does your strength become a gift rather than a threat.”

So instead of thrusting your CV in the face of everyone you meet in your new office, perhaps bring your mum along to tell everyone about that time you carried your grandma's shopping home from Lidl or something.

Images: Rex Features / Thinkstock

Related

typing.jpg

How to nail difficult work emails

career goals.jpg

10 simple steps to boost your career in 2016

ThinkstockPhotos-489978372.jpg

When women display this trait they are taken less seriously

writing a CV and job application.jpg

These are the 10 worst phrases to use on your CV

ThinkstockPhotos-177787885.jpg

There's a really simple way to improve your job interview chances

ThinkstockPhotos-100636347.jpg

Is it ever appropriate to sign off work emails with a kiss?

dolls.jpg

The new business models: women who live their brands

ThinkstockPhotos-483800191.jpg

Behold the UK's most cringeworthy office jargon

STEM Careers.jpg

The top five courses you need to retrain for a STEM career

More

The best possible gifts for when flowers aren’t going to cut it

17 unusual and thoughtful gifts for when the s**t hits the fan

by Amy Swales
22 Sep 2017

This Battle of the Sexes legend wants you to STOP asking about McEnroe

“I would like to see John McEnroe win a Grand Slam tournament while pregnant”

by Susan Devaney
22 Sep 2017

“The real reason we should all be upset about Uber”

Grow up: your bank balance really isn’t what’s at stake here

by Kayleigh Dray
22 Sep 2017

There's a huge sherbet fountain coming to London - and it's free

Bompas & Parr are planning a weird, wonderful and nostalgia-filled event

by Helen Brown
22 Sep 2017

Rick and Morty creator responds to sexist trolling of female writers

The show hired four women. Cue cries of “Worst. Episodes. Evah.”

by Amy Swales
22 Sep 2017

Everything you need to know about Uber being banned in London

The taxi firm has had its license revoked by TfL

by Moya Crockett
22 Sep 2017

The new Baileys flavour you’ll want to drink well beyond Halloween

Perfect autumn cocktails ahead

by Amy Swales
22 Sep 2017

This unexpected town has been voted the best place to work in the UK

We didn’t see this one coming

by Moya Crockett
22 Sep 2017

Harry Potter fans, this epic Hogwarts goblet is actually magical

It's perfect for Butterbeer (or prosecco)

by Megan Murray
22 Sep 2017

The hidden meanings behind the nation’s most popular baby names

Prepare for lots of girls’ names ending in ‘a’

by Moya Crockett
22 Sep 2017