First impressions last— true or false? I am reading a very interesting book entitled “Blink”. One of its startling revelations is that we can learn a lot by “thin slicing”. It is contended that we don’t have to know everything about an event or person to make good decisions. A “thin slice” of observation could actually reveal a lot about a person or an event. For example, 15 minutes of observing a person’s room was found to reveal more about the person than actually interviewing him.
Of course, there is a downside to thin slicing. Our initial impressions may just be the result of our prejudices (eg certain ethnics groups are more likely to be criminals). But the point of the book is that we subconsciously make judgments of persons and events around us. The trick is knowing when to trust our instincts and when not to.
One time, my wife and I were watching a documentary which tested how people use first impressions in a shallow way. People chosen at random were shown two pictures, one of a winning candidate and the other a losing candidate (who they do not know). They were then asked who they think won the elections. Without knowing the political stand of the candidates, 70% chose the winning candidate! A disturbing implication is that people vote simply based on the facial appearance of the candidate and that their platform is secondary.
The Lord Jesus told us “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment" (John 7:24).
Good leaders know when to make “first impressions last” and when not to “judge a book by its cover”!