First impressions, lasting Impressions

By Curtis R. Sprouse

January 2016

First impressions are important. The ability to develop a relationship is often times dictated by the first impression. Great leaders understand this concept and they know how to engage when forming new relationships. Amy Cuddy addresses this concept in her new book “Presence.”

Can I trust this person? Can I respect this person?

I believe these are very important questions, but I am not sure they are the foundation of the process.EurekaConnect, LLC utilizes validated instruments to assess four behaviors that define what we term to be Interpersonal Skills.Social Skills, Goodwill, Communication, and Collaboration. Many highly effective leaders tend to have very balanced scores for all four behaviors, typically above the 50% and below the 75%.

The question is. how does one translate this data and how does it relate to the concepts defined by leading psychologists like Susan Fiske, Peter Glick, and Amy Cuddy? Social Skills define one’s ability to connect and to establish a personal connection that is relevant to both parties. It also indicates one’s ability to read the other person to sense what the person may need to feel comfortable.

People with moderate to high Social Skills tend to be good at this, as they can quickly identify common ground and move to a more personal and meaningful conversation. However, this is not the only component of trust. Trust requires Goodwill, the ability to show genuine care and compassion for others. Establishing a connection for the sake of a connection without care will not foster trust. As a matter of fact, those with Goodwill scores at or below the 38% mark tend to create mistrust, as they are hard to read. They do not show emotion and they do not give others the sense that their inquiries are based in genuine interest.

We refer to the balance of Social Skills and Goodwill as Social Acumen. That is, ability to navigate the personal relationship with purpose, meaning, and care. When this is done properly, people will establish trust and the foundation for respect. Communication, the effective exchange of information and Collaboration, the interactions, and contact that establishes continuity will enhance the use of Social Acumen.

Interpersonal dynamics are critical to leadership and the formation of trust and respect, but there is yet another important dynamic: Situational Acumen, which is the ability to navigate a broad spectrum of situations adjusting in an effective and relevant way. We define Situational Acumen as Compromise and Accommodation. Compromise is the ability to be open and respective to new ideas and concepts, challenging them without cynicism, judgement, or preconceived conclusions. Acumen defines one’s ability to move in new directions, to accept a different perspective, and adjust views and actions based on a more enlightened perspective.

The combination of well-developed Social Acumen and Situational Acumen is how one not only establishes trust and respect but secures and maintains trust and respect for long periods of time, for the duration of the relationship. This is how great friendships, marriages, partnerships, and business are formed. This is the foundation for all good things.

Note: Scores and profiles referenced in this article refer to characteristics defined in the EurekaConnect Behavioral Dynamics program

About the author: Curtis R. Sprouse is the President and CEO of EurekaConnect, LLC. Curtis has spent more than 25 years building companies and consulting for hundreds of the fortune 500 companies. EurekaConnect, LLC uses proven technologies and data driven solutions that objectively and measurably improve organizational performance. For more information please email: