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First impression

Lately I have been interested in neuroscience and its application on my work field, communication. A master student is now doing research in my office. Her research is about how brains work in relation to attitude change.

Don’t be afraid, I won’t discuss it here as I am not able to explain it well. One day after an interesting conversation with her, I began to think of how our brains work in the daily life. Take first impression for example.

Flash time
When you meet someone for the first time your brains send signals and mix them with your own perceptions in your mind about demeanor, mannerism, dress, body language and attitude. You put this person in a box that fits to how YOU see him/her, how you interpret his/her appearance, dress, look, body language and language use according to your own perceptions. This happens in a nano second!

Pic courtesy of Scilearn

Some reports say it takes three seconds, others say seven. No matter how long it takes, we are talking about forming a conclusion about someone we just meet for the first time in seconds. That is very fast, like a flash! It is amazing how our brains work, isn’t it?

First impression
First impression is difficult to change, not to mention almost impossible. Once you have formed it, you tend to stick with the existing conclusion. New data would be processed in our brains as a validation of the existing conclusion, not the contrary evidence.


Second chance
Very aware of the first impression’s impact, I did some observations and even experimented with it. I sought for an answer for the second impression. Is it possible to change my first impression of someone I just meet.

First I applied it to new people I met in my private life. It was back in 2008. They were not my business contacts. They were married Indonesian women in early thirties who lived in The Netherlands. They fit in the party girls type description; sexy looks, party hard and shallow. In short they were something I was not (I used to be a party girl in my early twenties though). I was genuinely interested whether I could bow my first impression about them if I would hang out with them for a while.

Why I did this, I see you wondering? Because I was aware that change of first impression comes slowly. It depends of the frequency or the depth of contact you maintain after the first meeting. Everyone deserves a second chance, right? Above all they were all nice to me during the first meeting.

So here I was, maintaining contact with them. I even went out clubbing once with them. However after 6 months, there were no new information I could add which could change my first impression about them. When I was hanging out with them I often thought; What the hell am I doing here. Things we had in common were only our origin, mother tongue and love for Indonesian food. After one year the contact went sour due to one thing. This is one subject I will share in another post.

Another observation about second impression I applied at work with a couple of business contacts. Strangely I could adjust first impression into more positive second impression. Is it because of the setting? At the office, I need to act professionally, I look for more data which could change the first impression. If there was not such new information, I just willingly accept as it is.

Influence it
First impression is not that difficult to set. It depends on little things (smile, firm handshake), average things (polite greetings, good morning, good day, good evening) to major things (body language, dress, language use). These tips are useful for work interviews, during networking or first meetings with your future in-laws. When you reckon with all of these, you will come a long way.

Now I wonder how the first impression works online. What was/is your first impression about me? Would you share it here and give me some feedback please? Thanks a million.

Currently reading brainimaging waisman
Featured image is courtesy of Chicago Tribune


21 thoughts on “First impression

  1. Ehemm! First impression, ya. Kalo di kehidupan nyata, aku sudah cukup terima nasib dianggap jutek sama orang yg pertama kali ketemu, mbak Yo. Hampir semua orang mengatakan hal yg sama. Ya maaaffff… tampilan udah jutek dari lahir, iniiii…! Hahaha…
    Kalo mbak Yo, pertama kali baca blog ini langsung tahu kalo mbak Yo nggak suka basa basi, langsung ke pokok permasalahan, dan kayaknya tipikal orang yang mendingan pahit di awal tapi manis belakangan. *analisa sotoy* πŸ™‚

    • Makasih ya Fit feedbacknya. Bener kok, kebanyakan orang yang ketemu aku didarat juga bilangnya aku sombong, eh second impression biasanya ganti jadi tegas dan ngga basa basi.

  2. My first impression about you, though only through reading your blog here and Instagram, that you are a smart person, to the point, love food and culture and history, a lady like, and sometimes can be very blunt.

    I had similar situation, I used to hang out with a group of people only because our origin, mother tongue, and Indonesian food. It didn’t work out very well too. Now, though I only have a very small Indonesian friends but at least we have more things in common and they don’t drive me nut! πŸ™‚

    • Thanks Ria for your feed back. Me lady like? Is it because I prefer to wear a skirt or a dress? I don’t know if you’d believe if I tell you that I used to be a tomboy when I was a teenager πŸ˜‰

      I am now thankful I didn’t spent more than 1 year hanging out with those who don’t fit with me and vice versa. Just wait for the post about it.

      • Perhaps more to…demure Lo, maybe not lady like πŸ™‚ Whatever it is, you’re just…anggun gitu loh πŸ™‚

        Can’t wait for your post about that matter. Sometimes I question myself, maybe I am the one who have problem here, maybe I am the “weird” one….but I honestly can’t force myself to be like them or follow their “life style” which I can’t even afford it :p

        • Thanks, I don’t know why but my style is elegant chic, at least I try to be. Yes, I am drafting that post and choose the words carefully. Wait and see.

  3. I don’t want to blame anyone for this kind of jutek face I have, LOL πŸ˜€
    , makanya daridulu pun love at the 1st sight ga berlaku dari cowo ke aku mba yo. karna aku selalu jadian or di- pdkt sama yang udah jadi temen or lumayan kenal lama dulu. Karena 1st impression ku pasti jutek, galak dan ga asik or justru blagu. hehehe

    My first impression about you: SMART, gaya berbicaranya lugas! straight to the point tapi nggak rude, suka banget sama postingan2 mba yo. Always give me new insight.
    Ibu yang cool, soalnya bisa nge balance working at home and at office (Sotoy,just bcoz I saw lots of cooking thing in your IG). Overall, you’re such a nice person. Nice to know you πŸ™‚

    *btw, ini kok berasa jaman SMP ngasih pesan dan kesan dibuku diary temen ya?*

    • Ha….ha….iya ya Jo. Roses are red violets are blue. You’re my friend and I love you. Dulu aku suka nulis sajak diatas dibuku kenangan temen waktu SD/SMP.

      Thanks for your kind feedback, lega bahwa walaupun tulisanku kadang to the point banget ternyata ngga kasar ya bacanya. Itu maksudku memang, karena outspoken dan to the point bukan berarti kasar kan.

      Mudah-mudahan juga ngga bosen liat IGku yang penuh foto makanan dan foto lingkungan sekeliling aku tinggal/kerja.

  4. Sama kayak pendapat Joice mbak, dr baca tulisanmu kesan pertamaku SMART. Tulisanmu runut, enak dibaca dan dirimu orisinal banget nggak fake dan nggak keikut sana sini. Aku jg mbayangim di dunia nyata kau itu orang yg mempengaruhi bukan dipengaruhi. Oh ya dirimu realistis abis menurutku ya hahaha dikau selalu bertutur pake logika dulu jd jikapun sebel atau senang atau sedih isi postinganmu selalu bisa bikin aku dapat sesuatu karena fakta dan keadaannya nggak ketutupan sama emosi yg overwhelming *aku msh bljr bnyak soal ini*
    Eh trus kau kece gitu aku suka tampilanmu Mbak

    • Terima kasih Sondang feedbacknya. Aku sukanya ngeblog itu interaksi kita lebih dalam ya, bisa saling belajar satu sama lain. Oh ya, kamu beberapa komen aku itu logika sekali tapi sebenernya aku asli anak sosial loh πŸ™‚ Mungkin dengan bertambahnya umur aku jadi semakin berusaha berpikir dan mengutarakan pendapat secara logis supaya seimbang dilevel informasi (fakta) dan emosi. Makasih ya sekali ya feedbacknya, I really appreciate it.

  5. Hehehe…jadi ingat buku diary jaman SD, dimana setiap teman diminta untuk menulis testimonial ttg kita. πŸ˜€
    Menurutku Mbak Lor itu mirip sama kakakku. Kalau ngomong langsung to the point, gak pakai basa-basi, dan kalau gak ngerti beuh itu kita diminta menjelaskan sampai dia mengerti. πŸ˜€
    Tapi kesan cerdasnya-Mbak Lor, seperti yang ditulis teman-teman di atas ya benar. Mungkin karena content blog Mbak dan cara menulisnya yang runut. I wish I can meet with you in person, one day πŸ˜‰

    • Ha..ha..iya Deva, tapi kalo testimonial jaman Friendster juga ada, inget ngga? πŸ˜‰ Terima kasih ya feedbacknya, aku juga seneng berinteraksi dengan rekan blogger didunia maya ini. Mudah-mudahan suatu hari kita bisa ketemu ya.

  6. Mba Yo, first impressionku waktu baca blogmu orangnya to the point, smart, dan berpikiran terbuka. Ga sungkan untuk berbagi ilmu bahkan untuk pertanyaan2 cetek yang suka aku ajukan sekalipun πŸ™‚ Seneng rasanya selalu dapat hal baru tiap berkunjung kesini. Postingan2nya selalu buat aku ngeliat hal dari sudut pandang yang baru πŸ™‚

    • Terima kasih feedbacknya Maria. Ah kalo orang ngga tahu, tanya dan aku tahu jawabannya ya aku jawab. Ngga ada pertanyaan cetek atau dalem πŸ™‚ Karena malu bertanya sesat dijalan, kan?

  7. First impression, jadi inget pengalaman diminta bos menilai desain iklan selama 3 detik pertama. Ditanya pendapat tentang iklan itu apa, apakah messagenya sampai atau enggak, layout/kreatifnya bagus atau enggak, apa yang perlu direvisi dll. Ternyata selain untuk manusia, berlaku juga untuk benda ya mbak..

    • Iya betul, apalagi di marketing, communications and media. Untuk first impression webdesign malah lebih cepet lagi Shin, two-tenths of a second menurut hasil dari eye tracking research. Kamu kerja di advertising kah?

  8. Hai Mbak Yoyen,
    seperti biasa, selalu seneng baca blognya karena kaya baca majalah, nambah wawasan tapi ngga ngebosenin. Aku ngerasain quote Oscar Wilde itu bener. Deep inside, kalau mau mengakui, first impression selalu bener. KADANG, ketika ketemu orang yang first impressionnya ngga ngenakin, kita (tanpa sadar) ngga mau mengakui karena pengen fokus sama positive side orang ini dan berharap semoga bisa suka dan get along sama dia dari sisi positifnya itu. Kalaupun berhasil, ngga bisa beneran jadi temen baik sih menurutku, tapi berhubungan baik aja karena dasarnya ngga cocok dari first impression tadi.

    Err aku belibet banget ya, huhu maaf tapi semoga nangkep maksudnya πŸ˜€

    Btw first impressionku dari baca blog mba Yoyen adalah…tegas, very smart, outspoken, mandiri, kindhearted, superwoman, living a healthy life, content & secure. Semoga suatu hari bisa ketemu langsunggg πŸ™‚

    • Iya Met, aku ngerti maksudnya kamu. Makanya aku coba bergaul sama gang itu karena aku percaya tiap orang pasti punya sisi yang positif.

      Makasih ya feedbacknya. Aku bukan superwoman, keadaan yang buat aku begini πŸ™‚ Mudah-mudahan suatu hari kita bisa ketemu ya.

  9. Yoyen, you heard about a saying “First impression last?” Well, that’s more for the face to face meeting though πŸ™‚
    Well I stumbled upon your blog through Santi’s blog a while back, don’t remember which one I read first but I do like your opinion and your style of writing, it reminds me a bit of myself πŸ™‚ My first impression of you was You are to the point, ga ada basa basi and of course very smart indeed. Galak dikit mungkin ya but it is because you are a very strong opinionated woman, and I have an impression that you are very down to earth due to your Javanese roots and very nice:)
    So now, after a few years reading your blogs, communicating through FB and other social medias, I was right about you…
    In a way, I think we have a very similar personality and interests, the love of history, language, anything French, travelling and the love of food!!

    Hope one day we will meet in person…..

    • Yes, I heard of it. And I also heard about second impression counts. Time flies Garile, I remember our first contact was somewhere in 2008. We met indeed through Santi’s blog. Through all these years I have learnt that being direct and outspoken doesn’t mean as being rude. If people treat me nice, I will do the same in return. Glad we have many things in common and thanks for following this blog. Contact me if you are somewhere in Europe, ok? Perhaps I could arrange a meeting.

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