Forbes contributor and author Nick Morgan says they matter a great deal, especially in the ways our unconscious mind processes the world around us.
"Our conscious minds can handle roughly 40 bits of information a second. That sounds like a lot until you know that our unconscious minds can handle 11 millions bps," he says. "And so we've evolved to let our unconscious minds handle first impressions, along with a lot of other things, because our conscious minds are easily overwhelmed with just talking and trying not to spill coffee on ourselves."
It can be scary to think just how much our unconscious is at play when it comes to meeting people for the first time. Maybe it's the first time you meet your boss or coworkers. Maybe it's the first time you meet your future spouse or in-laws. I've often wondered if we could be thinking one thing on the surface while our unconscious is busy at work forming different opinions. As Morgan says...
"We have mirror neurons that fire when we see (unconsciously) someone else come into view. Our mirror neurons match their emotions precisely. So if that person is nervous, they make us nervous. We literally leak our emotions to each other."
So perhaps the saying should be "put your best neuron forward"? But on the flip side, I know that I can be extremely nervous when I first meet people -- quite surprising, I know! It takes me awhile to warm up to a point where I feel comfortable around them. Now, this isn't to say that I make a complete fool of myself; it's just that, sometimes, the person someone initially meets might not be a fully accurate representation of who that person truly is. It might take a bit more time to get to know them, so give them the chance.
[Photos via We Heart It]