Should Our First Impressions Count So Much?

Just as a slight aside Graham went to the Auckland Neuroleadership Institute Group meeting earlier this week where recent  neuroscientific findings where discussed. Being highly interested in how leaders influence others here is something that piqued our interest on what is actually going on in our brains when we meet strangers.

Neuroscientists have actually started to map the sequence of 5 events that occur in our brains when we meet someone for the first time.    All of these activities are happening in a fraction of a second but they also happen in  a repeatable sequence they are

1. Visual Cue (Is this a person?)

2. Threat (Is this a threat to me)

3. Categorise (What sort of person is this , gender, ethnicity etc..)

4. Characterise ( What are these sorts of people generally like?)

5. Matching ( What   do I currently think about these sorts of people?)

Note the prioritisation of the potential threat and the simplifying that is going on in the characterise and matching stages. Clearly this is where our existing hard wired biases can come in and influence our perception of the situation. This process appears to be built into our brain physiology and is beyond our conscious control. I wonder if that is in any way related to strongly decisive leaders making extrapolated judgements on their people based upon very limited contact?

However if we understand a little bit about how our brains operate we do have the power to  use our pre-frontal cortex part of our brain  and test and challenge any first impressions we might have. After all isn’t that what happens when we start to get to know someone and find out that some or all of our first impressions weren’t  that accurate?

Why not give  us a call to set a complimentary coffee and white board session with one of our Leadership consultants. You set the agenda (and supply the coffee) and we’ll bring some good collegial discussion and an idea or two why not contact us right now?

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