People evaluate you based on these two questions

Harvard social psychologist Amy Cuddy speaks at Cosmopolitan Magazine ‘s 2014 Fun Fearless Life Conference.
Craig Barritt / Getty
amy cuddy
Craig Barritt / Getty

When we meet new people, we form an opinion about them within seconds. And vice versa, we are assessed just as quickly.

But what exactly decides whether a person likes us or not?

Amy Cuddy has been dealing with this question for years. Together with her colleagues, the psychologists Susan Fiske and Peter Glick, the professor at Harvard Business School has been researching for more than 15 years how the first impression we get of a person is created.

In doing so, she discovered an interesting pattern that she describes in her new book “Your body speaks for you: work from within, convince, radiate “sums up:

She discovered that our counterpart answered the following two questions in a flash at a first meeting:

  • Can i trust this person?
  • Can I respect this person?

Psychologists also speak of the fact that you can achieve your warmth (your social behavior) and yours competence being judged. Ideally, the other person will come to the conclusion that you have both – and you get along wonderfully.

Harvard professor Cuddy has noticed, however, that people believe that competence plays a more important role in a job. After all, they usually want to prove that they are smart and talented enough to work with the other person.

But actually the warmth is crucial when it comes to assessing yourself. Cuddy explains it this way: “From an evolutionary point of view, knowing whether a person deserves your trust is essential for survival.” Because when we were all still in caves, it was much more important to find out whether or not the other caveman was going to kill you and steal your belongings. The ability to make a good fire was of secondary importance.

Competence is highly valued in today’s society, but according to the psychologist, it only comes into play when there is already a basis of trust. Therefore, it can backfire if you focus too much on your strengths.

The expert means above all young professionals who have just graduated from a renowned business school and who then want to come across as smart and professional. This can mean that they never ask for help, generally rejecting invitations to after-work activities and thus appear aloof in the short or long term. The rude awakening comes when you don’t get the job you long for after an internship because nobody really knows or trusts you.

“If you try to influence someone who doesn’t trust you, you won’t get very far. You will probably even arouse his suspicions and be classified as manipulative, ”says Cuddy. “Only a warm, trustworthy person who is also strong and competent will be admired. However, the basis of trust must first be created. Because only then does strength become something positive and not a threat. “

This article was published by in July 2018. It has now been reviewed and updated.


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