Why Harvard Says You Might Not Be Making A Great First Impression

Is it important to you to make a good first impression? I'm guessing you said 'yes.'

Good first impressions can lead to new career opportunities and improve your social life.

You may even think you're doing everything right when out networking or socializing.

Guess again.

First Impressions Calgary


A study done by psychologist Amy Cuddy for Harvard says that most people focus on the wrong thing when meeting somebody new.

It's also been proven that first impressions are largely effected by the way people present themselves.

Ever since Street Gentlemen launched I've been meeting a ton of people while out networking.

Most have been genuine, professional, and a joy to be around.

But there's always a few bad apples in the bunch.

For one reason or another they would rub me the wrong way. It seemed best to remain distant afterwards.

If you feel like it would be best to avoid a person it's likely that you don't feel like they're trustworthy.

At this point your fight or flight response kicks in.

You make a snap judgement to avoid running into issues again.

This is often based on a past experience with a person with similar characteristics. Maybe that interaction left you with a bad taste in your mouth.


When first meeting a person there's two questions we subconsciously ask ourselves.

Within 7 seconds we try to decide:

A) Is this person trustworthy?

B) Are they competent?

Most people focus on talking about their competence before gaining trust. Cuddy says this is actually the wrong approach.

People need to know they can trust you before they want to hear about what you bring to the table.

If they can't trust you, your expertise is often seen as a threat as opposed to an advantage.

So now that we know what to focus on when trying to make a good first impression, you might be wondering, "How the hell do I make a good first impression with only a few seconds?"

The answer is pay attention to how you present yourself. In other words -- your style.

You can leverage your personal style to increase your chances of getting the most out of the conversation.


Are you competent?

If someone's going to deal with you they need to know that you're capable of meeting their needs.

Yes your skills and experience are important but hold that thought.

What you have to say could fall upon deaf ears if they're so distracted by how you present yourself.

You want to pay attention to the details of your grooming:

  • Clean-shaved or well maintained facial hair
  • Clean nails
  • A recent haircut

These all indicate that you're a man who has enough self-respect to take the time to care for himself.

If you can take care of yourself this tells them that you have your act together.

Having your act together shows that you're a man who can get the job done, you're not bogged down by stress easily, and leave no loose ends.


Can you be trusted?

Style is the invisible "foot in the door" that will encourage people to give you the time of day or not.

Your goal is to appear warm, approachable, and confident.

Doing so will guarantee that people will take you seriously. This ultimately creates the opportunity for you to be heard.

You can easily achieve this by the way you dress.

[NOTE: check out this style guide which outlines everything you need to build a wardrobe from scratch. ]

Here's how:

  • In order to be taken seriously, you must first take yourself seriously. Always know the dress-code ahead of time. This also shows you've taken the time to look appropriate for the occasion.
  • Take proper care of your wardrobe too. Scuffed up shoes and wrinkled clothing will give people the impression that you may not have your act together even if you do.
Last Thoughts:

Your first goal when networking is to appear trustworthy when meeting someone for the first time.

Experience, skills, and knowledge will all be overlooked if a person can't trust you.

Trust is the first barrier to get past and once you do, your abilities will seem even more appealing because they now see you as the type of guy they would like to work with.

Hopefully  you enjoyed reading this post as much as I enjoyed writing it for you.

If you would like help turning more heads, getting positive attention, and more compliments in your personal and professional life click here to learn more about our free online class: Carry Yourself With Confidence 

LifestyleSunjeev Prasad