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VIEWPOINT: Judged Within a Blink

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Dress and groom yourself to display the authentic you – and win people over.

It has been scientifically proven that you are judged within the first few seconds of meeting someone new, based on many levels of information stored in the brain, as explained in Malcolm Gladwell’s book ‘Blink’. What scores highest on the impression you create is firstly your appearance, to a great extent how you speak, and of least importance is content. Look at the impact spin doctors have on well-known people all over the world, from politicians to celebrities.

As it is hard to critically evaluate yourself, try to watch your own movie as though you are someone else. There are three critical things to bear in mind:

Be yourself

Number one is authenticity, being you, your own true self. In the subconscious mind, people pick up on sincerity and genuineness, so it is vital to be completely your own legitimate and real self, without trying to pretend to be someone else, or having a characteristic that is not truly you, even if you are tempted to believe adjusting yourself might secure a better result. It will not!

Show yourself

Next is how you look. We can argue the merits of your inner self being substantially more important than your outside appearance, in the belief that substance over form is what should count. But as we tend to judge a book by its cover, so does the outside world.

Consequently you’d be well advised to consider what makes you look good, feel good, and what creates a great impression – were you not to utter a word. Please bear in mind that your ‘look’ starts with the expression on your face, your posture, your presence and then moves to the rest of your attire.

Own yourself

Speaking with confidence and conviction goes a long way in carrying the right message, significantly more so than the actual content of your conversation. Good eye contact and a clear self-assured voice largely guarantee success, along with your demeanour. People trust people who trust themselves.

When evaluating your own movie from the outside, start by pausing your movie to evaluate if you are truly being yourself. Does the character portray a congruent message to the actor?

Then proceed to a silent version, to allow for sufficient focus on the non-verbal. Thereafter activate sound, and consider what objective, constructive advice you would give to the person in the mirror. Don’t hesitate to rope in a professional who can make an enormous difference – they are experts at enhancing your picture, much like a mirror designed to make you look thinner.

You were endowed with many natural talents – be sure these are reflected to maximum advantage in how you act, look and speak to create exceptional and lasting first and next impressions! ❐

“Sometimes you just have to put on lip gloss and pretend to be psyched.” Mindy Kaling

Author: Anneke Andrews CA(SA) is the Director  that leads RecruitTalent at Deloitte.