7 snap judgments people make within seconds of meeting you

Everyone judges everyone, especially when they first meet each other. Such judgments are often made quickly, without even thinking about it. 

A recent study by scientist, Simon Makin, revealed this: 

Not only do we judge people in a few seconds (or, more accurately, a tenth of a second) of meeting them, but we also accurately judge many elements of their character (honesty being the biggest one) in less than a second.

As numerous research papers have told us in the past, once a snap judgment is formed, it’s very difficult to shake.

Let’s take a look at the 7 snap judgments people make within seconds of meeting you.

1) How friendly you are

Many studies on first impressions are clear that if you smile at a person within the first few seconds of meeting them, they’ll like you more than they would if you didn’t smile.

Beyond liking you, they’ll also think you’re more friendly, approachable, and enviable.

The research also highlights that the way you smile makes a big difference in how likable you appear, too. 

For example, showcasing a big grin and “smiling with your eyes” makes you even more likable than giving a small, half-hearted smile.

However, as The Muse rightly points out, too much smiling can also impact how unfriendly someone thinks you are.

Giving someone a cheesy grin that doesn’t waver can give an impression of fake niceness. And once someone thinks you’re being “too” friendly, it’s a hard hunch to shake.

2) How shy or extroverted you are

How you introduce yourself when you meet someone new speaks volumes about your personality.

Extroverts love talking, engaging with others, and being the center of attention whenever possible, according to VeryWellMind.

If you loudly introduce yourself in a group and instantly command the conversation, people automatically assume you’re loud, confident, and extroverted.

But if you say your name quietly, give a small smile, and fade into the conversations, you’ll quickly come across as shy, introverted, and/or quiet.

There’s nothing wrong with either personality type. But if you want to appear confident, it’s important to remember how quickly people can assume you’re not. 

3) How punctual you are

People make snap judgments about how punctual a person is based on their first meeting.

And, chances are, they’ll hold that judgment about you forever (or, at least, for a very long time until proven otherwise).

This is especially true for potential employers. If you arrive late to a job interview, they’ll assume you’ll be late to work every day, even if you’re the most punctual person ever.

Similarly, if you arrive late to the first-time meeting someone, like a date or new friend, they’ll quickly assume you’re bad at timekeeping and lack punctuality.

The same applies if you arrive on time or early. People will make a snap judgment that you’re “that kind of person”. Someone who is highly organized and, if they’re not 10 minutes early, they’re late.

Punctuality is an important trait for many people, including potential partners, friends, and employers.

Many of my own friends would even leave a date if the other person was more than 5 minutes late, regardless of the reason!

So, being on time whenever you meet someone new is important if you don’t want this to be a snap judgment someone makes about you and holds onto forever.

4) How wealthy you are

Your clothes and visible possessions help people form an instant judgment about how much wealth you have (or don’t have).

A classic example of this is when we see a homeless person on the street. We can usually tell instantly if they’re homeless by their unruly appearance.

For example, they may be wearing baggy, dirty clothing, with minimal possessions and unkempt hair.

But if you’re wearing designer clothes and jewelry, and have the latest iPhone in your hands, people make a quick decision that you have money.

Likewise, if you’re wearing unbranded tracksuit bottoms, unintentionally ripped jeans, stained clothes, or other types of casual clothing, people may not necessarily think you are poor.

But they may assume you don’t have as much wealth as someone else.

5) How fun you are

Another snap judgment people make about you within seconds is how fun you are as a person.

It takes time for your true personality to shine through, but that doesn’t stop people from making a snap judgment about how entertaining you are to be around.

For example, people could see you as a fun person if you’re wearing fancy dress clothing the first time they meet you, and your outfit is comical. Or if you’re telling a joke or laughing about something just as they meet you.

What you’re doing in relation to the setting can also lead people to make a snap judgment on how fun your personality is.

For example, if you’re at a party and you’re not drinking, people can (regrettably and, often, wrongfully) think you’re not fun.

Likewise, if you’re at an event or theme park and you’re not taking part in the activity, no matter what the underlying reason is, they may also think you’re not that fun.

6) How much authority you have (and how much they should respect you)

This is a hard pill to swallow, but many people take seconds to decide how much respect you deserve. 

This is especially the case in formal settings, like at a professional mixer.

Of course, everybody should be treated with respect. But how you talk to someone who you think is the CEO of a company at a work event is different from how you talk to the apprentice.

People can usually tell your authority level by how much respect you command. 

This comes across in how you speak, how sophisticated your clothes are, how firm your handshake is, how straight you stand, and how “put together” your overall appearance is.

It also shows in how others treat you, which is something most of us can quickly pick up on.

We’ve all seen the movies where someone with importance is being gawked at, followed around by a swarm of people, and commands attention from the room.

If people see this, they’ll make a snap judgment that you are important, and you deserve their respect.

7) Whether they like you or not

Unfortunately, people make pretty brutal assumptions about you from the moment they meet you.

One of those is whether they like you or not. Most people know that their initial assessment can change once they get to know you better.

But a large majority of people decide whether they’re going to like you or dislike you within seconds of first meeting you.

There isn’t always much you can do about this.

Provided you’re not an awful person or obviously alienating (like you make jokes at other people’s expense, patronize, make mean comments, or act judgemental), you won’t be everyone’s cup of tea.

Final thoughts

If you try hard and act intentionally, you can sway people’s first impressions of you. This is easier to do in a formal setting, like when you’re starting a new job or attending an interview.

But it can be trickier if you’re in a group setting, hanging around with people you mostly know, or feel guarded and shy for whatever reason.

Making a good impression is important when you’re networking or building your career.

In these situations, it’s important to put your best foot forward, even if that means not doing or saying the things you’d normally do in everyday life.

But, otherwise, if you’re just meeting a friend of a friend, going on a date, or attending a party where you know next to no one, all you can do is be yourself.

The right people for you will come your way. And the people that aren’t supposed to be your friends (or anything more), won’t.

And that’s all you can ask for in life!

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Tina Fey

I'm Tina Fey, the founder of the blog Love Connection. I've extremely passionate about sharing relationship advice. I've studied psychology and have my Masters in marital, family, and relationship counseling. I hope with all my heart to help you improve your relationships, and I hope that even if one thing I write helps you, it means more to me than just about anything else in the world. Check out my blog Love Connection, and if you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter

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