We have all done it. We meet someone and we have made up our minds about whether we like them or not in less than thirty seconds. We then spend the rest of the conversation justifying our initial judgement.

But what exactly are we evaluating in this process?

In her book “Presence”, Harvard Business School professor, Amy Cuddy says that it all boils down to two basic questions.

Can I trust this person?

Can I respect this person?

Ideally, you obviously want to find both of these characteristics in the person you are talking to, but interestingly, in a professional context, most people believe, respect – or competence – is more important, and that’s what your conversation partner will probably set out to prove – after all they want you to believe that they are competent to handle your business.

However, Cuddy says that from an evolutionary perspective, it has always been trust – or warmth – that has been more crucial, and even today it is still the most important factor in how people evaluate us.
It makes sense when you consider that in cavemen days it was more important to figure out if your fellow man was going to kill you and steal all your possessions than if he was competent enough to build a good fire.

But while competence is highly valued, Cuddy says that it is evaluated only after trust is established. And focusing too much on displaying your strength can backfire.

Cuddy says:

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.

If you feel that your organization needs help developing an alternative to snap decision making, give Simon a call at (440) 506-4347 to schedule a no obligation initial meeting to discuss how you can take your organization to the next level.