On what basis are you being judged?

We all make snap judgements about others - but can you influence someone else's first impressions of you? Hannah Samuel thinks so, and explains how you can help them come to a fair conclusion.

Have you ever jumped to a conclusion, or had others jump to a conclusion about you? For many of us the answer will be ‘yes’.
 
Humans are wired to make conscious and sub-conscious judgments on an almost constant basis. Should I spend, or save? Should I stay or go? Should I trust this person or organisation or maintain a healthy level of doubt until I know them better?
 
No matter what the decision is, a judgment is necessary before a decision can be made. If we want to positively influence a decision, perhaps to help a prospective client or customer understand why we might be the best provider for them, it makes sense to be aware of three critical influencers in terms of how judgments are formed.

Personal experience – If the person weighing you up has had a positive personal experience with a similar provider in the past they’ll be more likely to be predisposed to expecting a positive experience from you. Of course, the reverse is also true. If they’ve had a negative personal experience the chances are you’ll need to work harder to prove you’re different and earn their trust.

Preconceived Ideas or Prejudice – If the person has limited personal experience to draw-on they may make a judgment based on preconceived ideas or worse, prejudice. No-one person may be responsible for influencing the person’s thinking. Rather, their judgment may be influenced by media coverage and society at large over a period of time. People uncomfortable or unskilled in thinking critically for themselves and being discerning will often use this form of influencer on which to base their judgments.

Peer Pressure – This can carry huge weight, especially where the person being deferred to or consulted is highly trusted by the person seeking advice. The opinions of a respected or trusted individual will frequently override, or temper, a person’s own thoughts and feelings if they value that individual’s opinion highly. It certainly takes a fair amount of confidence to go against a majority of others and/or disregard comments and opinions from trusted sources.

Whilst each individual element can affect judgments, a combination of some or all of them are likely to be at play in any given decision-making process.
 
A fourth ‘P’ is also worth noting – that of Personality. The lens through which we judge ourselves and others is usually heavily influenced by our personality. Someone who values precision, neatness and ‘getting things right’, for example, is likely to judge someone who appears to operate in a form of disorganised chaos more harshly than someone ‘more like them’.
 
So next time you engage with an existing or prospective customer or client, think about how their judgments may be being influenced and respond in a way that can help them judge you fairly and effectively. 

Topics: 

  • Brand
  • Public Relations
  • Customer service
  • Self-development

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Hannah Samuel, The Reputation Champion, is a specialist reputation advisor, professional speaker, author and founder of online performance-based service directory, TRUSTcite. She regularly comments on issues around reputation, trust and customer experiences in mainstream media and on her...