Moving From Me To We BlogMoving From Me To We Blog

When you see a photo of someone it takes just a tenth of a second…

… to decide whether you like or trust the person, say researchers. Snap judgments happen  without conscious thought. Yet another part of the study has scarier implications for forging relationships. When participants were given more time to describe their reactions they were:

   •  Slightly more negative than those given less time.

   •  More certain that they were right in their quick judgment.

And from a study on Facebook called YouJustGetMe, in viewing photos, people are

 “generally seen by others as they see themselves.”

How to Cultivate Friendship and Attract Support

From these findings, for a first meeting to flourish, in person or online, into a positive relationship, two people must feel positive about each other upfront and over time during that first “meeting”.  Only then can you enjoy the Positively Mutually-Reinforcing Effect.  That’s when we prove each other right – that we are trustworthy and likeable – for each other. 

Since no human interactions are neutral, the alternative is the Negatively Mutually-Reinforcing Effect.  That’s when one or both us don’t like or trust each other at first.  Consequently we become self-protective and spiral down in the mutually-reinforcing behaviors that prove ourselves right.

 People Like People Who Like Them

How to start out on the right foot in person?  From other research here’s a counter-intuitive discovery. Most of us, when meeting someone we think is important to us, attempt to appear likeable, important and trustworthy. Our behavior is often self-referencing.  Yet the best way for others to like you is for them to like the way they are when around you. 

If they don’t like the way they act and feel when around you, they project onto you the qualities they most dislike  – even if you haven’t demonstrated you have those traits.  They are inclined to sabotage you  – even if such behavior also damages them. 

Alternatively, if they like the way they are when around you, they see in you the qualities they most admire.  Yep.  Even if you’ve not (yet) demonstrated that you have those wonderful qualities. Plus they’ll go out of their way to speak well of you and help you, even to their own detriment.

So, for an easier, more joyful life  – with others – make it a habit when you first meet someone to search for the quality in that person you most like and admire. Focus your attention on that trait, not something that bothers you. Your positive feeling will be reflected in your face, body language and tone. Speak to that positive view. In so doing, you are most likely to instigate a pleasant interaction at the least and, at the most, a healthy give-and-take friendship. Then explore more ways to deepen that connection.

Categories: behavior, Likeability, Research and tagged , , , , , , , , , , .
Bookmark the permalink.

Post a Comment.


  1. Posted March 6, 2009 at 8:19 am | Permalink


    Saw your teaser on Facebook and just had to click on the link. (From one copywriter to another, good job with the headline.)

    This is fascinating stuff you write about. On your first part, Bob (my business partner) had a thread going on the Biznik forums on people’s profile photos and first impressions. It was a very interesting discussion. I think we do make snap judgments based on a fleeting glance. And it’s amazing how many times I see a rather intimidating, in-your-face pose in a profile photo and the personality and essence of that person is completely different when we meet face to face. Not sure that’s a good thing.

    I love your simple but profound advice about choosing one positive trait you sense in someone when you first meet them, and focusing on that. That’s a tip I’m going to remember.

  2. Posted March 6, 2009 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    thank you for this thoughtful post as i have enjoyed following your both over there

  3. Neville Dean
    Posted March 9, 2009 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

    Love the stimulation of your thoughts and findings on this subject. My findings show that the human mind can’t tolerate a vacuum of meaning and we make snap judgments reflecting our need to make sense of our world – this includes our desire to forge relationships. I’m sure I made my decision connect when I saw your Plaxo photo. Neville

  4. Posted March 10, 2009 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

    Neville. I totally agree with you. You may enjoy the book On Being Certain that covers this topic

Post a Comment

Your email is kept private. Required fields are marked (required)


moving from me to we


Sign up here to download Kare's guide:
"34 Ways to be More Widely Quoted and Deeply Connected." 

Congratulations! You will now receive an e-mail with the link to download this valuable PDF guide!