We might not realize it, but whenever we meet someone, psychologists say we immediately focus on two specific traits.
According to the book “Presence” by Harvard Business School professor Amy Cuddy, we look for two basic traits when we first meet someone: competence and trustworthiness.
During the course of 15 years studying first impressions, Cuddy has found distinguishable patterns in new interactions, reports Business Insider.
According to Cuddy, one of the questions we first answer about new people we meet is “Can I trust this person?”
“From an evolutionary perspective, it is more crucial to our survival to know whether a person deserves our trust,” Cuddy explains in her book.
We also answer “Can I respect this person?” to see what they can bring to our table. If they are a prospective employee, your mind tries to assess whether the person is competent enough for the job.
Although a huge importance is placed on competence, Cuddy says it is only analyzed after trust is established. Pushing our strengths too much without proving you are indeed worthy of trust can make you appear too strong.
“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,” Cuddy points out.
“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.”