You’ve heard the saying that “you never get a second chance to make a good first impression?”

New research supports that as being true. In fact, according to Harvard social psychologist Amy Cuddy, amy cuddy (1)and her new book “Presence,” people are quickly answering two questions when they first meet you.

  1. Can I trust this person?
  2. Can I respect this person?

Psychologists refer to these dimensions as warmth and competence respectively, and ideally you want to be perceived as having both.

Interestingly, Cuddy says that most people, especially in a professional context, believe that competence is the more important factor. After all, they want to prove that they are smart and talented enough to handle your business.

As Mortgage Professionals, we typically overemphasize our knowledge of the market, interest rates, Chinese Candlestick Charts, jobs reports, etc. Competence as a Mortgage Professional is important but Cuddy says it is evaluated only after trust is established. And focusing too much on displaying your strength can backfire.

presenceWarmth, or trustworthiness, is the most important factor in how people evaluate you.

“If someone you’re trying to influence doesn’t trust you, you’re not going to get very far; in fact, you might even elicit suspicion because you come across as manipulative,” Cuddy says.

“A warm, trustworthy person who is also strong elicits admiration, but only after you’ve established trust does your strength become a gift rather than a threat.”

People do business with people they Know, Like and Trust. With the release of Cuddy’s book “Presence,” we now have the data and research and strategies to consistently make a good first impression.