How other people judge us and how we judge others. It is not a conscious choice that we make when we decide that we like or don’t like someone. It’s more an instinct that we have within us. There is no shame in judging people before we get to meet them, after all, we all do that. We do have to be very conscious when we are judging others, especially if our judgment can relate to other people’s employment or pay raise. We all judge others, but we also all get judged by others.
How do we judge others? What is the most important factor? According to a psychologist from Harvard, we judge others based on two main criteria.
Amy Cuddy, a Harvard Business School professor is an expert in first impressions. She researched the split-second decisions and interactions where we make the first decision on other people’s personalities. Professor Amy Cuddy did the research with two psychologists, Susan Fake and Peter Glick, for more than 15 years. In the best-selling book by Amy Cuddy, “Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges.” The two most important questions that we ask ourselves unconsciously when we meet someone for the first time are: can I trust you and can I respect you?
We judge people not as much based on their looks and what they are saying to us, as we judge them based on the level of competence and warmth. Competence is related to respect. Warmth is more linked to trust. If someone notices warmth and competence, they will say: “Yes, I trust, and I respect this person.” Of course, this is only the first impression that we have. What matters is what comes later in communication with others.
What matters more than competence or warmth, trust or respect? According to Amy Cuddy, we believe that we value competence more than warmth, especially in a workplace setting. However, this is not entirely true. Even in a business environment, it’s better to nail warmth than pure competence, of course, if you have both then that is the best scenario.
Amy Cuddy writes:
“From an evolutionary perspective. It is more crucial to our survival to know whether a person deserves our trust.”
Even at work, consider someone who is great at what they do but they are strict and cold as ice. People don’t find a competitive and cold person that attractive; they tend to not trust that person and they also tend to disrespect that person on a personal rather than work-related level.
According to Cuddy:
“If someone you’re trying to influence don’t you, you’re not going to get very far; in fact, you might even elicit suspicion because you come across as manipulative. 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.”
Of course, there is the physical judgment. As we say: “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” There is nothing about someone’s physical appearance that can lead us to believe that someone is worthy of our trust and respect.
According to a study conducted by psychologist Leslie Zebrowitz of Brandeis University from 2017, people tend to judge faces based on four facial cues. Those cues are familiarity, emotional resemblance, babyface, and fitness. We can’t help ourselves with these facial cues. We can’t control our facial expressions, after all, we are born with the face that we have. The only thing you can do to be more pleasant and warm as a person is smile.
Smile is a physical expression of warmth and trustworthiness.