The halo effect: it's something that's working on us all the time. Curious? You should be. It can make all the difference between getting a job, closing a sale or getting a new customer. You've probably heard of it before, so how does it work?
Edward Thorndyke come up with the catchy name. He was a psychologist who used it in a study during 1920. He looked at how army officers rated the soldiers serving with them. The halo effect describes his findings: officers normally assessed their men as being either good, or bad, right across the board. If the officer had a good experience of a soldier in one area then the assumption was made that the soldier would be good at other tasks too.
Obviously, this is good news for anyone who takes the time to make a good first impression. Whether people are looking at your hair, your manners or your website wording they will be making judgements in line with the halo effect. If they perceive that you are able to take good care of your stuff at this level, the halo effect leads them to cast the same favourable glow over the rest of you and all you do.
Unfortunately, there is a forked tail just around the corner. If people perceive you as not performing well in one area, then they will spread this poor rating across your life just as quickly as they would spread the glow. Bucking a negative halo effect judgement takes time and energy. Let's face it, few of us have spare amounts of either to turn someone's opinion around once it's been established.
So, the best thing we can do is to hop on board the concept and aim for a shiny halo from the get go. When it comes to how you communicate, you can do this in several ways:
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I'm Chris Bryce, writer, editor and proofreader. Do you think the difference between breathing and not breathing is the most important one there is? I do. I'm a big fan of breathing, smiling and meaningful communication in all its forms,