Entering a room with an expectant audience or speaking in a public forum presents an opportunity. Walking to the middle of the stage focuses attention. People often form a lasting impression within the first 3 seconds of viewing the presenter or person entering their field of vision.
Our eyes, our mind, our past experience, our attitudes, our prejudices form an opinion -instantly. Before we have heard the subject matter or met the person being introduced our entire physical and emotional body responds to external input and makes a decision about incoming information.
This is human nature. We are programmed to respond. It’s for our survival. We need this information to physically exist and function. When a new entity approaches we need to instantly decide if it is a danger or friend. This is natural. We make this decision without conscious thought: almost a reaction.
However, we understand from our experience that “new” is not always harmful. This knowledge kicks in about 2 seconds after our initial first impression hits us. So, within about 5 seconds of confronting a new person or situation, our entire being has developed an impression, albeit good or bad.
Our task, as responsible adults, seems to be both complex and simple. Acknowledge the presence of our human instinct to discern between danger or demure and then accept that first impressions may be askew. An example of this occurred in the New York Museum of Modern Art. A picture by impressionist Henri Matisse hung upside down for 47 days in 1961. To announce the blunder, the New York Times ran its headline upside down -(artnet.com-Readers Digest Dec2017/Jan2018, p.45)
First Impressions are necessary. It’s our job to get them right.