A Second Chance at First Impressions
January 14, 2015
As a real estate professional, you make your living working with people — and making that crucial good first impression is always the most important step. If you've had encounters that made you wish you could do them over, there's good news: You probably can — and you'll have fewer of these encounters, too.
Writing in the Harvard Business Review, researcher Heidi Grant Halvorson offers the encouraging insight that "errors in reading people are highly predictable, because perception is governed by rules and biases we can identify and anticipate." As you accomplish those tasks, it's "possible to ensure that you’re making the right impression more often, and to correct any misperceptions that others have about you."
Halvorson explains that we evaluate new people in two phases: an initial assessment as your new contact assesses you quickly based on factors like appearance and body language. "In phase two—if there is a phase two—the perceiver has to work a lot harder," Halvorson says, "paying closer attention, gathering disparate data, and making sense of it to draw informed, thoughtful conclusions about you."
They accomplish that through three "lenses," Halvorson says: the trust lens, which assesses your warmth and your competence; the power lens, which determines your usefulness to them; and the ego lens, which defines the hierarchy of the people.
To create a good impression in this second phase, then, Halvorson says to project warmth and competence; demonstrate that you're instrumental to their goals; and be modest and inclusive. But what if you've already made a misstep?
Overcompensate. "Keep piling it on until your perceiver can no longer tune it out," says Halvorson, "and make sure that the information you’re presenting is clearly inconsistent with the existing ideas about you."
You can also make people want to revise their opinions of you, she says. Among the techniques you can follow:
- Activate the desire to be fair.
- Make yourself necessary.
- Seize the right moments.
"You need to think strategically about encouraging and incentivizing them to see you in the best possible light," Halvorson concludes. "If you do, then it is really never too late to make the right impression."
Source: "A Second Chance to Make the Right Impression," Harvard Business Review (Jan. 2015)
Updated: August 16, 2019