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The 2 traits we most notice when meeting someone

The 2 traits we most notice when meeting someone

October 31, 2022

The power of first impressions has been known for a long time in psychology.

When we first get in touch with someone, especially if it is in person, the conclusions we draw from that person during the first minutes of interaction will condition the way we judge them from that moment on. All the information that comes to us about that individual after that critical stage will be regulated by the presence of those sensations that awoke in us before.

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But nevertheless, It is still debated which are the specific personal characteristics in which we most notice to decide if someone is worth it or not.


Amy Cuddy has spent 15 years researching the power of first impressions to shed light on this issue and has come to the conclusion that, when we meet someone, we focus primarily on two characteristics. And, in addition, they do not simply consist of an analysis of the physique of whoever is in front of us.

What really matters in the first impressions

As Cuddy explains in his book Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges, when we first came into contact with someone, we posed two questions to ourselves: "Can I trust this person?" and "can I respect this person?"

Interestingly, even though first impressions may relate to superficiality and occasional interactions that do not give way to anything deeper, what we value most is the sense of honesty and confidence that someone transmits to us in a matter of seconds and minutes, that is, the first of the two questions.


The reason, according to this professor at Harvard, is that from an evolutionary perspective it makes more sense to look at whether it will be worth trusting someone. In this way we are more protected against possible betrayals that could put our lives at risk or, at best, make us waste time and effort in cultivating a relationship that is not worthwhile.

Only when we have evaluated the degree to which someone inspires confidence will we consider and respect it for what it does, that is, if we find it capable and competent in some significant field.

How to take advantage of this in personal relationships?

The conclusions that Cuddy has drawn from his research leads us to bet on simplicity in our personal relationships and when meeting people. That is to say, instead of obsessing with giving an image that comes very close to the canons of beauty or to demonstrate our degree of competence, first we must show that we are normal human beings that can be trusted , and not give an artificial or supposedly mysterious image.


Making demonstrations of ability only has a significant impact on the image we give if we have previously made the rest of us feel safe. If not, it can be interpreted as potential, but a potential that can be used against others and, consequently, makes the rest distance themselves from us.

Thus, we must show our most human side, instead of remaining distant in order to show only those qualities that we think are impressive. For example, this implies speaking frankly about ourselves, showing our own limitations to the same degree in which we talk about what we are good at and, in general, showing that we can be trusted without producing important disappointments.

This, in addition, can be applied both in informal relationships and when finding a job or seeking professional allies. What it is about is to be transparent, show the degree to which you can expect our help and collaboration , and behave consistently with this. If honesty is shown, the possibility of falling into deception or misunderstandings is much less, and that makes everyone win.

What to do to give a good image?

Going to the concrete, some aspects to value when letting our behavior speak well about us is to follow these guidelines:

1. Be communicative

Maintaining a distant attitude can mean two things: either there is nothing interesting to show or something is hidden.

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2. Speak bluntly

To wander or speak in a very formal way in a context that does not require it is a kind of communicative barrier that does not express honesty.

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3. Do not avoid talking about your own imperfections

If the conversation leads to it, do not avoid talking about your own mistakes, past mistakes and weaknesses.This shows that the other person is trusted, which makes them adapt their attitude so that it corresponds to ours.

4. Give a realistic view about what can be offered

More than talking directly about what can be done to help the other as if it were a series of personal skills that the other person can "rent", it is better to demonstrate in the here and now a good disposition aimed at making the relationship work and be comfortable to wear. In the first case, a series of theoretically advantageous characteristics is communicated unilaterally, while in the second, the conversation is used to express the desire to listen to the other person and their own needs.


5 Signs You’ve Met a Sociopath But Just Don’t Know It (October 2022).


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