24 Apr The Dangers of First Impressions
How many of you see the old woman? How many of you see the young woman? If I ask these same questions again in a month’s time the chances are that the person you saw first a month ago will be the same person you see first this time around.
In workshops when I put a slide up of this picture I ask participants to describe the young woman and her life-style. More often than not the types of responses I get are that:
- She’s pretty, wealthy and a woman of leisure, funded by a rich partner
- Her background is well-to-do, having spent her education learning about social skills and grooming
- She lived in a large house in Paris or London and spent her days either shopping or hosting dinner parties
- She has a Poodle dog whose name is Fifi
- She has no job with very few practical skills and certainly has no idea how to run a business, lead others or manage people and performance
Have you had the same first impressions?
The people who come up with these responses in my workshops sometimes struggle to see the young woman in the first place!
This is not fair or logical. It is dangerous to jump to conclusions based on first impressions. Very often managers and leaders evaluate on the basis of perceptions and their own biases. Introverts can struggle in an extrovert environment for example. Worse still we sometimes base our decisions on what someone else has told us. We all need to scratch beneath the surface and get to understand what makes our colleagues tick before making important judgments.