There’s a saying that first impressions last, and science says it may be because of the factors that people evaluate you with.

In a feature on Business Insider, Harvard Business School professor Amy Cuddy says that you are initially judged based on your levels of warmth and competence, which are answerable by two questions: “Can I trust this person?” and “Can I respect this person?”

Depending on the situation, a person you meet may put more importance on one criteria than the other, but generally, people value warmth or trustworthiness more than competence. Competence is usually evaluated after trust has been gained or proven. This means that a good percentage of the time, being nice to a stranger or to someone you’ve just met may give a more favorable impression of you, rather than if you try to exude an aura of intelligence which can be misunderstood as haughtiness.

“If someone you're trying to influence doesn't trust you, you're not going to get very far; in fact, you might even elicit suspicion because you come across as manipulative,” explains Cuddy. “A warm, trustworthy person who is also strong elicits admiration, but only after you've established trust does your strength become a gift rather than a threat.”

So before you even try to come across as smart, be polite first. A good personality can go a long way.


PHOTO: Flickr Creative Commons/Alex Naanou

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