A reminder: Before we even speak a word, both our body language and our appearance are ‘broadcasting’ messages to anyone who cares to take notice. This is known as ‘non-verbal’ communication.
Body language is mainly about posture, gestures, and facial expressions; it can reveal clues to our mental attitude (i.e. feelings*, emotions* and intentions). Displays of body language are a natural and largely subconscious part of who we are.
* Feelings are our external demonstration of our emotions; emotions are our internal reactions to things that happen to us.
Our appearance is about what we wear and how we groom ourselves. This can be influenced by cultural factors, such as acceptable and traditional garments and colours. However, more often than not, our appearance is most strongly influenced by our self-image**.
** Self-image is the cornerstone of our personality, it is the mental picture we have of ourselves in terms of our abilities and our appearance; our self-image comprises a combination of self-esteem, self-confidence, and body-image (For more, see: Building the New You – it’s about personal development).
Whenever we meet with someone, within seconds they will have formed an opinion about us – all from our body language and appearance. How we carry ourselves, our gestures and expressions, our clothing, jewellery and other accessories, and also our grooming, all have a tale to tell.
At the same time, we will have done exactly the same thing to the other person. This is often referred to as the ‘first impression’.
First impressions count
There is a saying: “first impressions count”. Many behavioural experts suggest that a first impression is formed in less than 10 seconds (Body language exponent Carol Kinsey Goman advises that we have as few as 7 seconds to make a ‘first’ impression). By and large, this is a completely subconscious reaction – influenced by our experiences and/or our biases.
Here are four different images of people to illustrate the first impression: consider each image briefly (3-4 seconds), and then respond to the question below it: