First Impressions… Then the Hard Work of Building Credibility

Alison Overholt brings up first impressions, and I applaud her colleague and the research being done. When working hard to build a solid reputation, it’s important to understand the process of how first impressions are formed.

All of us make initial judgments about one another. In First Impression, Best Impression, author Janet G. Elsea says people focus on what they can see. In fact, there is a specific order by which others process information about you. While social scientists disagree on the precise sequence, that order generally appears to be:

  • Color of Skin
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Appearance
  • Facial Expressions
  • Eye Contact
  • Movement
  • Personal Space
  • Touch

All of this processing happens before you open your mouth.

We all know a first impression can be wrong; it can be better or worse than the opinion people have of you six months later. Whatever that first impression is, your credibility is built on what others see you do. So, after you’ve made that first impression, what impressions are your actions making?