It’s often said that first impressions are everything, but it’s never been entirely clear what people are actually being judged on when they receive these first impressions. However, Harvard psychologist Amy Cuddy thinks that she’s narrowed it down to two.
Cuddy is claiming that when two people first meet, each of them will ask themselves two questions: ‘can I trust this person?’ and ‘can I respect this person?’ Cuddy calls these two questions ‘warmth’ and ‘competence’.
Most people apparently think that competence is the most important of these factors when meeting a new person – especially in a professional capability – but Cuddy argues that it’s actually warmth that should be more highly regarded:
From an evolutionary perspective it is more crucial to our survival to know whether a person deserves our trust.
If someone you’re trying to influence doesn’t trust you, you’re not going to get very far; 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.
While competence is highly valued, it is evaluated only after trust is established.
Well, that makes a lot of sense to me and I can get behind it. Being able to trust someone is very important to me, although in fairness I think most people you meet you kind of assume you can until they do something to prove that you can’t. So I’m not sure how useful that analysis is, but it definitely makes some sense.
For more first impressions, check out this absolutely incredible Tinder opening line. Maybe even use it if you want.