A millisecond mistake that can pose a lifetime challenge

Snap judgements – also known as first impressions – often wrongly assume people’s intentions or trustworthiness. Even so, these judgements – formed in milliseconds – can pose a real challenge if not made in your favor.

That being said, there are ways to sway people’s snap judgements – including controlling your visual cues. In a Wall Street Journal article, Sue Shellenbarger writes that a “happy expression, with the corners of the mouth turned upward and eyebrows relaxed, is likely to inspire trust.”

She adds that facial expressions are even more important when you don’t think anyone is looking at you. She cites impression-management consultant Judson Vaughn who said that people tend to distrust others whose “dominant face,” is grumpy or disapproving. And even more so when that person flashes a smile just because someone is looking.

Shellenbarger notes other tips to ward off a bad first impression, such as holding your shoulders erect, using breathing techniques to foster relaxation and confidence, and standing with your hands relaxed by your sides.


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