January 18, 2011 | Barb Carr

Career Development: First Impressions – Test Your Knowledge!

According to “Breakthrough Networking – Building Relationships That Last” (Lillian Bjorseth), people decide many things about you within 10 seconds of meeting you.  Can you identify them from the list below?

a) Your economic level

b) Your educational level

c) Your trustworthiness

d) Your social position

e) Your level of sophistication

f) Your social heritage

g) Your educational heritage

h) Your economic heritage

i) Your level of success in life

j) Your moral character

Which did you choose?

Would it surprise you if Bjorseth said that *all* of these things are decided during that first 10 seconds?  She did!

How we are dressed and how our voice sounds (not what we say) are the biggest factors in how we are initially judged.  It is easy to imagine that we’re judged quickly on our economic level or level of success by how we are dressed.  We can even see how we’re judged on our level of sophistication or educational level by how we speak.  But … it is a little harder to swallow that we are judged on trustworthiness or moral character so quickly based on appearance and voice.

So, how do we present ourselves in business to let our true colors shine through without being falsely judged?

Here are a few tips:

1)  Physical appearance counts for 55% of how we are judged so pay careful attention. You can be wearing a brand new shirt and pants, and still make an unfavorable impression.  Invest in a good hair cut/style, whiten your teeth, make sure your shoes are clean and unscuffed, and wear clothing that is pressed and well fitted.

2)  How our voices sound counts for 38% of how we are judged. Speak clearly and at a good pace (not too fast or slow), enunciate your words, and speak at an appropriate volume.  Use proper grammar and use voice inflection for interest.

3)  What we say accounts for only 7% of how we are judged. Isn’t that surprising?  If you look good and make your voice sound nice you don’t really have to know anything at all!  Well, I suppose you better know something after that first 10 seconds.  So, when you do start talking, avoid personal topics, but do start the conversation with pleasant small talk about recent news or an interesting observation.

You never get a second chance to make a first impression, but these tips will make it easier to start off with a favorable one.

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