We might have heard about the power of the first impression before. Be it falling in love with someone we just met, getting through a job interview, or winning a business deal, how good you are in creating a great first impression matters.
Here is Amitabh Bachchan for you.
What was your first impression when you look at him. Most people say he looks distinguished, trustworthy, competent and handsome. Is that not a great first impression to create?
We all know who Harrison Ford is.
In case you haven’t heard about him, he is the “Indiana Jones” and plays a major part in Star Wars. Of course, he has acted in countless other hits and was a major Hollywood action hero during his time. Did you know how he was discovered?
By the mid-1970s, little-known actor Harrison Ford had somewhat sidelined his dreams to focus on a steadier career path as a carpenter. A casting consultant named Fred Roos thought he’d be perfect for George Lucas’ new film “Star Wars,” but Lucas was intent on hiring all new actors for the project (Ford already had a role in Lucas’ earlier film, “American Graffiti”).
In an effort to get Ford noticed, Roos arranged for the actor/carpenter to install a door at Lucas’ film studio. He caught the director’s eye and was eventually cast as Han Solo.
That’s the power of the first impression!
My first impression when I saw my physiotherapist
I am going to narrate a personal story.
Let me rewind to the year 2008. I experienced a sudden bout of fever and body pain. I took some over the counter painkillers and brushed it off as the side effects of excessive work-related stress.
But things started going downhill even after I took these painkillers for a week. Then it was a steady descent into nightmare. I was a member of a hospital system and eventually consulted every specialist in the building. I was tested for every conceivable ailment, and each time the result was blank. It was like playing musical chairs and I even experimented with alternate forms of medicine from the Orient. While all this drama was in progress, my ability to move around was severely restricted.
In the end, I was advised to see a physiotherapist to regain my mobility and strength. That’s how I met my physiotherapist. It was a match made by the insurance company!
The moment I saw her, I knew I liked her and I was in good hands! With a big bright smile on her face, she exuded warmth and confidence. We hit it off well and before I realised, my therapy session was up. Every day, I looked forward to my early morning physiotherapy sessions even though I hated getting up at 5 am.
All good things come to an end and the physiotherapy sessions permitted by my health insurance company also came to an end. Three weeks of therapy passed by and I was still feeling miserable with no improvement in my health condition.
Why did I love my physiotherapist?
Years later, when I look back at my “love affair” with the physiotherapist, I am truly intrigued. What made me decide in an instant that she was competent and had the magical qualities to cure me of my mysterious ailment?
No doubt, she has all the necessary certifications and training needed to work with patients referred to her. And for that matter, that’s true with all physiotherapists in the facility where she worked. I didn’t do any research and just like that, I showed up one fine morning before her.
With no apparent rational explanation, I decided I was in good hands and she was competent. The outcome of the three-week session was a big zero, but I continued to have a warm fuzzy feeling towards my physiotherapist.
I did what every man or woman does when confronted with difficult questions – Google my question! Here is what I discovered.
1. We jump to conclusions all the time!
According to Princeton psychologists Janine Willis and Alexander Todorov, it takes just 1/10 of a second to form an impression about the person we meet. Spending longer time doesn’t really change our opinion! This was the conclusion from their research titled ”
This was the conclusion from their research titled “First Impressions“. This research study involved showing a group of people a set of unfamiliar faces for just a fraction of a second. After everyone had a glimpse of these faces, they were asked to rate them as attractive, competent, trustworthy, aggressive, or likeable.
Another group was shown the same set of unfamiliar faces and were asked to rate them on the same parameters. Only this time, there was no time constraint for the second group. The results were startling. There was a strong correlation between how the two different groups of people rated these unfamiliar faces!
This very well explains why I was thoroughly impressed with my physiotherapist the moment I saw her for the first time!
2. Is she trustworthy and competent?
According to the social psychologist, Amy Cuddy,
“When we form a first impression of another person it’s not really a single impression. We’re really forming two. We’re judging how warm and trustworthy the person is, and that’s trying to answer the question, “What are this person’s intentions toward me?” And we’re also asking ourselves, “How strong and competent is this person?”
That’s really about whether or not they’re capable of enacting their intentions. Research shows that these two trait dimensions account for 80 to 90 percent of an overall first impression, and that holds true across cultures. It appears I was no exception.
3. My connection to my ancient ancestors is still strong
As I started researching my question, I recalled a book I read three years ago. It was “Blink” by Malcolm Gladwell.
In this book, Gladwell talks about Rapid Cognition or Thin Slicing which is our ability to rapidly come to a conclusion based on instincts alone as opposed to deliberate decision making.
Blink provides several examples of how these instincts come to play in our lives. Rapid cognition must have been very helpful to ancient human beings that were primarily hunters, to begin with. Split second decisions to recognise dangers probably meant the difference between life and death. In my case, it was just three weeks of wasted time and effort.
4. Was I carried away by her non-verbal cues?
According to a paper written by Nalini Ambady and Robert Rosenthal, students that saw only a few seconds of recorded video clips of a professor taking a class came to the same conclusion about the effectiveness of the professor when compared with students that provided end-of-the-semester feedback on the same set of professors.
The researchers concluded that non-verbal cues such as smile, yawn, fiddling with an object, shaking the head did have a positive or a negative impact on the rating provided by the students that watched just a few seconds of the video.
5. Why do I still think my physiotherapist is competent?
Even after all these years, I don’t seem to have any resentment towards my physiotherapist for wasting my time and ruining my sleep. That’s because my first impressions are difficult to erase even when the facts are presented to me. I have yet another research study to back me up.
According to their research, viewing a photograph can be a good predictor of how you will judge someone in person. Zayas’ research shows that initial impressions based on viewing a single photograph accurately predict how a person will feel about the other person in a live interaction that takes place more than 1 month later!
“Moreover, participants’ initial judgments based on the photograph coloured personality judgments following the interaction,” Zayas says. “The results showed that initial liking judgments based on a photograph remained unchanged even after obtaining more information about a person via an actual live interaction.”
Making people fall in love at first sight!
As I look back at the miserable time I had way back in 2008, I am amused by the fact that I could actually trace the purpose of Jodi Logik to a three-week physiotherapy session that never made any difference to me other than the fact that it made me question my judgment.
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