Nobody can deny that, in today’s world, image matters. We are bombarded daily with perfect images of perfect actors and perfect models. More and more emphasis is placed upon looking the part and dressing for success. That’s because we all make quick assessments based on how people look. Only 7% of a person’s judgement of you is based on what you say to them. The rest is based on perception.
How quick do people make these assumptions? Here, slowly count to seven.
One one thousand…two one thousand…three one thousand…four one thousand…five one thousand…six one thousand…seven one thousand.
There, that’s how long it takes to form a first impression. Within seven seconds of meeting you, perfect strangers will make decisions about you that may have an enormous impact on everything that happens next. Are you someone they want to work with? Someone who can be trusted? Are you friend material? Dating material? Should they buy your product? Hire you?
Are they shallow? Not at all. It’s an unfortunate fact of human nature that before you even say “hello,” people form an opinion of you based on how you look, based entirely on perception.
Perception is defined as the complex method of obtaining information about our surrounding world, specifically through our senses, and apprehending this information as beliefs.
Perception seems to have everything to do with our own selfish way of looking at everything. It may be influenced by the culture in which we grew up as well as our personal characteristics. It may change over time, due to exposure to other cultures, people, or continuing education. But it’s always there. People see things through their historically and personally tainted lenses, shaped by a combination of nature and nurture.
Psychologically, this is how it works. The images in our mind are extraordinarily rich. We can tell if something is liquid or solid, heavy or light, dead or alive. But the information we work from is incomplete, a distorted, two-dimensional transmission with entire spots missing. Your brain fills in the gaps on its own. You can get a sense of this from brain-anatomy studies. If what you saw in your “mind’s eye” was based primarily on received data from your eyes, you’d expect that the majority of the nerve fibers going to the brain’s primary visual cortex would come directly from the retina. In actuality, only 20% of them do. 80% come from other regions of the brain itself, mostly those governing functions like memory.
Richard Gregory, a prominent British neuropsychologist, estimates that visual perception is more than 90% memory and less than 10% from data received from optic nerve signals. So, when we observe a single physical element or a single type of behavior in someone, we tend to assume that person has a number of associated qualities. For example, someone may be perceived as confident simply because they have a firm handshake. They may be seen as trustworthy because they make steady, consistent eye contact. They may be judged as capable, professional, even wealthy or intelligent, based entirely on the fact that they are well dressed. The reverse, sadly, is also true.
So now that you know the psychology of how your brain makes these decisions, it is important that you take the initiative. You should game this response and use it to your advantage, so that when people see you, they perceive authority, success, trustworthiness, intelligence, capability, prosperity and anything else that sets you apart and move you up their scale of importance and impressiveness.
Since there is such a powerful image associated with how we dress, it is crucial that you understand the close connection between clothing and success. You should always dress the part! You should dress like the utmost authority in your field, who your prospects and clients turn to for advice. Never less than that! After all, you don’t question the authority of an expert, do you?
Carrying yourself with authority translates to our dear brain as prosperity. Prosperity attracts attention always, with no exception. Moreover, a look of prosperity attracts almost universally favorable attention, because the one dominating desire in every human heart is to be prosperous, whether we realize it or not. You can accomplish this look with perfectly tailored clothes and quality accessories.
And, well, a prosperous look will have a favorable impression on those with whom you’ll interact with, but the most important effect that attire will have is on you. The right clothes will not just impress others favorably, but great clothes will give you an internal atmosphere of self-reliance crucial to move forward. You will start to believe your own press, essentially.
So make it your business to look outstanding at all times! It takes only seven seconds to make a first impression, but it can take a whole career to undo it.
P.S. – A great handshake, eye contact, posture, a fantastic smile and being on time are the best accessories you’ll ever have!
“Everything is judged by its appearance; what is unseen counts for nothing. Never let yourself get lost in the crowd, then, or buried in oblivion. Stand out. Be conspicuous, at all cost. Make yourself a magnet for attention by appearing larger, more colorful, more mysterious than the bland and timid masses.” – Robert Greene and Joost Elffers, “The 48 Laws of Power”