First Impressions Take Milliseconds… Don’t Throw Them Away

Way back in 2006, Princeton psychologists Janine Willis and Alexander Todorov come to a startling discovery about first impressions: they happen in the blink of an eye - or less.

All it takes to make a first impression is one tenth of a second, or one hundred milliseconds.

The study calculated the speed of a first impression of a stranger from observing their face.  Interestingly enough, longer exposures don’t significantly alter those impressions. Longer view time might only boost your confidence in your judgments.

See more about their research, presented in their article “First Impressions,” in the July issue of Psychological Science, 2006.

Here's my claim: we often throw away the power of a thoughtful first impression.  

In organizations where deadlines abound, the speed of communication is a blur and multi-tasking is a normal expectation, quality is constantly challenged - so we make certain sacrifices.

For most organizations, favorable first impressions are often sacrificed do because they are unplanned and often rushed.

How does this apply to organizational growth, branding, strategic direction? 

We do not take the time to think, listen, strategize, and design the ideal first impression in the marketplace or with customers. Instead, we rush and start talking, pitching or handing out a business cards or promo materials. 

The truth is that we throw away the valuable moments of first impressions. 

Then, as an afterthought, we take the extensive time and investment of up to 14 “touches” to reestablish or change that first impression when we could have done effectively the first time.  

Worse - each of our team members follow their own style or personality and create a variety of different first impressions for their same employer. Collectively, this establishes your reputation in the marketplace.

What should we do differently in the first 100 ms?

Take time to intentionally design a well-thought, well-crafted introduction that creates authentic and unique first impressions. Role-play your introductions and understand what first impressions your brand is making in your market.

Help make introductions more comfortable for your new business teams and service providers.  Your customers and prospects will be glad you did - and so will you.

Jason Manarchuck