Someone’s first impression of you can be difficult to sway after that initial sighting or interaction, whether it’s in a professional setting or social setting. Unfortunately, a negative reaction can be damaging to your career or social life.
In fact, Vivian Zayas, a psychologist at Cornell University, said many people still “judge a book by its cover,” and surprisingly, their first impression of a person usually ends up being quite accurate. So here’s what you can do to make sure that the vibes and first impressions you exude end up wowing everyone you encounter.
One surefire way to push through that glass ceiling or break into a circle of friends is to simply look successful, or rather, dress for success. In a British-Turkish study, people rated men in tailored suits as more successful than men in regular suits. The study participants had just five seconds to make that decision, illustrating that clothing communicates superficial, yet important, information about a person.
It takes just a tenth of a second for someone to determine if you’re trustworthy. A lack of trust can inhibit your ability to form relationships and network successfully within your career. A Princeton research project shows that people drew trait inferences from others’ facial appearances. In the study, when the length of time was extended for someone to infer a person’s trustworthiness, the observer’s opinion became even more negative. So make sure you’re open, approachable and trustworthy with everyone who crosses your path.
Everyone knows that eye contact is crucial to establishing a positive connection with someone, but it also attributes to their perceived opinion of your smartness. A study by Loyola Marymount University professor Nora A. Murphy revealed that eye contact directly correlates with a person’s opinion of another’s IQ. The study showed that wearing glasses and speaking expressively helps boost your intelligent image, too. This will help both in the workplace and in social settings, particularly if you are hoping to climb the corporate ladder.
People tend to gravitate toward those who are of a higher socioeconomic status and dressing for that role has a positive impact on others’ first impression of you. A Dutch study found that people who wore well-known name brand clothes appeared to be of a more affluent status that those who did not wear designer clothes. The study revealed that such a perceived first impression of a societal status has its benefits in social settings, incurring preferential treatment and financial perks for those people.
No one likes a bossy person, but being a strong, dominant person can pay off at work or in a social setting. For men who are bald, the odds are in their favor. A University of Pennsylvania study discovered that men with shaved heads were rated as more dominant that other men with full heads of hair.
Business attire shows that you, well, mean business. In a Canadian study, participants rated male models dressed in business attire as earning a higher income and more deserving of a promotion than men dressed in casual attire. This could have a significant impression in the workplace and outside the office, too.
It’s not just how you dress or smile, but the way you move that also makes an impression on others. In a Durham University study, people’s gaits were observed and it was determined in just a few steps that people with looser gaits were considered extroverts and adventurous, while those with shortened, clipped paces were seen as neurotic. If someone can’t see your face and expressions, the next thing they’ll judge is your body movements and attire. While how you walk may not be truly accurate of who you are, keep in mind when entering a party or walking into a meeting that people are watching how you carry yourself and move.
In one quick glimpse, people will perceive you as someone who might make poor life choices based upon whether or not you have a tattoo and are a heavy drinker. According to a British study, women with visible tattoos were considered to be less attractive and more promiscuous than women who did not have any ink on them. While this perception may not hold as true in the U.S. where body art is more and more common, this British study based negative first impressions off of how extensive someone’s tattoos were and the amount of alcohol consumed in one sitting.
While not everyone with a tattoo or lack of hair is a shady friend or unsuccessful co-worker, studies show that some of the factors that form people’s first impression of you do have an impact on your career path and social circle. So keep in mind this checklist the next time you head off to a party or into work.
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