It’s Not as Long As You Think!

Published on February 8, 2012 by Annetta Wilson

Fifteen seconds:

  • The average length of time a reviewer looks at your resume
  • The number of seconds it takes to break through your computer's security system
  • The length of time you should wash your hands to prevent the spread of infection (source: Centers for Disease Control)
  • The maximum time it takes for someone to form an opinion about you!

The last one (forming an opinion) is perhaps the most misleading. I'm being generous with the time frame. Some sources say it actually takes under 9 seconds for someone to size you up.

It's often more difficult to undo someone's negative first impression of you than it is to make a good impression in the first place.

We've all had days when we didn't put our best foot forward. It's happened to me and I'm sure it's happened to you.

Have you ever shared a laugh over the not so stellar first impression you had of someone who is now a close friend? No matter how long you've known each other or how many experiences you've shared, you've never forgotten the first time you met.

So, how do you make your initial '15 seconds of fame' count? (Sincere apologies to Andy Warhol, but the 15-minute time window has indeed compressed).

According to Kelly Services (the temporary employment people), it's all in the presentation. You can ace an interview in the first 15 seconds if you show up on early, smile, be impeccably groomed, project confidence and use positive non-verbal communication (body language).

That last one, body language, is the most critical. The widely accepted formula is that it's over half of our communication (55%). Our tone of voice and how fast or slowly we speak is 38%. Only 7% of the way we communicate is what we actually say.

In business, knowing how to use that formula is the difference between getting paid and closing your doors. It can determine the quality of your relationships or whether you have any relationships at all.

There's a lot at stake in that instant appraisal. It happens every time you interact with someone. It doesn't matter if it's a life-changing personal conversation or a critical business negotiation.

Malcolm Gladwell was on the mark in his book, 'Blink'. We often 'think without thinking'. Fifteen seconds can seem like an eternity or no time at all. If you play your cards right, those seconds can be the best time you've ever spent.

Your career, business and relationships depend on who's holding the stopwatch.

©2011  Annetta Wilson Media Training and Success Coaching.  All rights reserved.

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