Always get the feeling people are judging you as soon as they meet you?
Experts say it takes just three seconds for people to decide whether or not they like you, but what exactly are they trying to work out about you in that time?
Harvard Business School professor Amy Cuddy, alongside colleagues Susan Fiske and Peter Glick, has been studying this for over 15 years, and she thinks she’s found the answer.
In her book Presence, she says these are the two questions people are asking themselves within the first few seconds of meeting you:
Can I trust this person?
Can I respect this person?
But which is more important?
Cuddy thinks that most people value respect (what psychologists call competence) over trustworthiness. Yet she thinks that over the course of human history trust has been more important.
This is because in the long run, if people think you might stab them in the back, they are a lot less likely to help you out in life, even if you are at the top of your field.
From an evolutionary perspective. It is more crucial to our survival to know whether a person deserves our trust. If someone you're trying to influence doesn't trust you, you're not going to get very far; in fact, you might even elicit suspicion because you come across as manipulative. A warm, trustworthy person who is also strong elicits admiration, but only after you've established trust does your strength become a gift rather than a threat.
So what’s the lesson here?
Be nice, and it will pay off in the long run.