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Society

Getting ahead using the first impression

They do not come with lifetime guarantees but first impressions do last
They do not come with lifetime guarantees but first impressions do last. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

They do not come with lifetime guarantees but first impressions do last. We naturally hold on to our first impressions about most people, situations, things and places. It is the reason why image is said to be everything.

You see; you are presenting yourself to the world and intentionally or unintentionally communicating plenty about yourself with every interaction. We take that, process it and create an impression about who you are and what you stand for.

Now, these impressions are no doubt, coloured with our predispositions and perceptions which you unfortunately have little to no control over. To make matters worse, once we create these impressions, we are unlikely to take the time and spend the energy to find any evidence to the contrary. That would prove us wrong. No one likes to be wrong.

In fact, we are more likely to not only look for, but also “find” evidence of the accuracy of our impressions.

While impeccable image, and presentation may seem to be rather flippant matters for most professionals, you would be well-advised to make every effort to ensure that our first experience of you is as flawless as can be. This is especially because our first impression may be in a situation that doesn’t provide for you to further influence our perception of you in a positive light.

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Online presence, and written communication, are some examples. So long as you require the presence, contribution, participation and influence of others to succeed in your endeavours, how they perceive you makes the all-important difference in whether or not they are or will be in your favour if, and when you need it.

It is impossible to impress every single person that would be beneficial for you because of the myriad of variances in our predispositions and points-of-view. This is the reason why you want us knowing you and anything related to you in the way that you’d like us to perceive and relate to you, whether directly or indirectly. You want to use your image to recruit us into your very effective personal and professional marketing team. You want us continually finding reasons why you are a certain type of person, reinforcing our impressions about you, so we feel that we are right about you.

You see; most of us are lazy, so we do not want to have to accept that we might have been wrong in the first place. That would require us to get off our comfortable initial positions where we were perfectly happy to feel right, and go find reasons why we were wrong. We are unlikely to accord you that much effort because of our inherent tendency to entertain only information that confirms our initial thoughts and feelings about you. This is known as confirmation bias.

What you want to do, is use our bias to your advantage. You already know that we are unlikely to defend anything that might even remotely go against the grain of our initial thoughts about you. Your work therefore, is simple. Ensure that our impressions of you are positive. This way, we not only dismiss your infractions as human error, honest mistakes and unfortunate or unavoidable situations, but also go on to forgive you for them. In fact, we go further to find reasons to defend and promote your virtues because of our positive ideas about who you essentially are, and what you represent on a personal and professional level.

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