THE FIRST FOUR SECONDS
First impressions have great importance; when a person first sees someone new, a lot happens in the nonconscious mind. The brain instantly tries to categorize the person into a certain type, making judgments and evaluations within the first four seconds. One way the brain categorizes is to make a judgment about whether the person is of high or low status within the group. Humans are wired to be attracted to the more powerful and higher-status individuals. The brain also notes the person’s chosen emblems and adornments, such as clothing, jewelry, or glasses, and their level of physical attractiveness. All of this information is observed, filtered, and categorized almost instantly by various parts of the brain leading to an intensely powerful yes-or-no reaction. While there is nothing fair, politically correct, or reasonable about this process, it is almost always permanent and rarely given a conscious thought. Additionally, overcoming these initial and instant impressions take an enormous conscious effort.
A person’s perceived level of attractiveness will be a significant benefit or detriment to their career, their relationships, and throughout all aspects of their life. The physical attractiveness factor is important in relationships, culture, and the survival of the species. The author states that most researchers agree that nonverbal communication and physical appearance make up between 50 and 80 percent of the impact of a communication, and cites many examples of this in human society. These examples include:
* Professors who are considered physically attractive by students are perceived to be better teachers.
* Attractive females receive significantly higher grades than male students or relatively unattractive females.
* Attractive females are far more convincing than females perceived as unattractive.
* Most of the wealth acquired by women in the world today is acquired by the most attractive women.
* Taller men make more money than their shorter counterparts.
In business settings, the author advises employing significant preparatory efforts to improve the likelihood of drawing a positive response:
* Dress about 10 percent better than the client is expected to dress.
* Emulate, or at least be aware of, the client’s values and beliefs.
* Mirror the client’s speaking and listening pace.
* Show an honest and caring interest in the client.