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Judging people – Headshot Photographer in Leesburg, VA


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According to science, we have to judge people when we first meet them. Although it’s commonly thought that we have about seven seconds to make our assessments, some research now shows that some conclusions are made within the blink of an eye. Scary, right? 

Judging is actually like a survival tactic.  

There are two parts of the brain that help us make quick decisions: the amygdala and the posterior cingular cortex. The amygdala translates information that comes in from all your senses and the posterior cingular cortex assesses the risks.  

When we meet a new person, those two sections of our brain make a judgement call based on whether or not the person would be a good connection for us. I don’t mean just work-related connections. Your brain is simply deciding whether or not the new person might be of use to you in some way… maybe as a love interest, as a friend, or as a mentor. I’m sure there are hundreds, if not thousands, of different types of people that our brains think may be useful to us. 

The reason I wanted to share the science behind first impressions is because they are so important. In my headshot business, I’m basically creating first impressions for professionals to share on social media and beyond. Even though I’m just producing an image, it’s still an image that is going to be used to make a first impression to many people. 

Since we all have such a brief amount of time in which to make that first impression, it’s imperative to make a good one. We all know the saying, “there’s no second chance to make a first impression.” So, how do we manage how others will perceive us? 

It all comes back to perception management. 

We have to dress in a way that conveys our message, smell nice, shake hands firmly, and speak confidently. The people we meet use all of their senses to make a decision on us, so we have to make sure that we cover each one. 

If you look nice but have on too much perfume or cologne, or maybe just have some bad breath left over from lunch, your smell is going to override everything that person is feeling about you. If you look professional and smell good, but your handshake is like a wet noodle, then again, that one piece of information is going to override what people think about you. 

How do you want to be seen? Do you want to be confident? Intellectual? Spontaneous? Healthy?  

Are you giving people every reason to believe what you want when you meet them? 

It’s really hard to maintain your image constantly and consistently. Every once in a while, we all just want to wear sweatpants, a ponytail, and no makeup. Whenever we actually do decide to step out of the door a little unkempt, we always run into someone we know, right?  

It’s more acceptable to be less put together around the people we already know, depending on the situation. They’ve already made their judgements on us and if our shirt is a bit wrinkly when we see them, they are already looking past the exterior by that point.

We need to think about how we’ll be seen. What are new people going to think of me today? Do I look like a person I would like to meet or do business with? Am I approachable? 

You never know who you might meet when you walk out your front door.

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