Some studies suggest it takes three seconds, others say eleven seconds, and they delineate different characteristics you are judged on. I usually work based on a study which found that you have 7 seconds to make a first impression. The exact length of time doesn’t matter. What matters is that this happens automatically in our brains – no matter whether we are aware of it, no matter if we find it fair or not, and no matter if under our shabby clothes we have the soul of Mother Theresa.
What happens if you don’t have the ability to see? If someone takes away your vision for those 7 seconds, or even longer? I have really been looking forward to talking to a wonderful group of leaders, the blind or visually impaired members and supporters of Project Starfish. An organization that trains the blind, creates a virtual workforce, supports them with finding employment opportunities, or helps start-ups by providing business development services to them.
It hasn’t been my first encounter with the blinds. Many years ago I’ve developed and lead a training program for a german company. We’ve send an entire department to Dialogue in the Dark, which is a worldwide exhibition that allows visitors to walk through specially constructed dark rooms. We challenged our leaders and let them lead their teams through the darkness along with scents, sounds, temperatures or wind emulating a real environment. Taking away our sight has been such a powerful experience to say the least. It let us all behind with lasting effects, and I remember it as emotionally challenging and very demanding.
But I also remember how impressed we all have been by the blind and visually impaired and their ability to create a learning atmosphere of authenticity, fun, empathy and openness for us, and their incredible desire to develop a mutual understanding for their and our strengths or weaknesses. They left us behind deeply touched and fascinated by their skills and abilities – some of them we might never achieve, even eyes wide open.
Today, I might be an expert in visual perception. But Project Starfish reminded me again that looking good is not enough. Your professional imprint is based on your appearance – which is easy to adjust and to optimize. We can use those 7 seconds for our advantage and make a powerful first impression. But to leave a lasting impression, looking good is simply not enough. A lasting impression requires a powerful imprint that’s also based on your behavior and your communication.
Thank you Project Starfish for having my during my book tour. I truly appreciate the opportunity talking to you, and wish you and your members every personal and professional success. Many of you are experts, naturally in the area of non-visual perception. Go! Use it!
People Packaging is what I do…
Executive Image Consulting | New York