Do you think of yourself as a good judge of character? Research tells us that we make decisions about people within seconds of meeting them and that it’s hard to go back on our first impressions. That’s pretty scary. Especially if we’re on the receiving end!

Have you ever been wrong about your initial judgments? I certainly have. Many times. Appearances can often be deceptive – sometimes positively and sometimes negatively – and are strongly influenced by our biases and a number of other circumstantial factors.

Several years ago I watched a documentary (CBS 60 Minutes) about interviews for high level Wall Street jobs. The TV producers set the scenario – half of the interviewees were actors, chosen for their appearance and ability to impress, and half were legitimate job seekers with all the experience required. The interviewers knew nothing of the deception, but guess what? All of the actors were selected for the jobs! Afterwards, the interviewers were convinced they had made their decisions based on experience and qualifications, although the actors had not lied – they just hadn’t been asked any hard questions because they had made such positive first impressions.

Forewarned is forearmed – so beware of judging someone too quickly – give them a chance to confirm or correct their first impression – it will add to your portfolio of interpersonal skills.