Jan 12, 2023 - Economy & Business

Axios Finish Line: We underestimate how well-liked we are at work

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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

This article originally appeared in Axios Finish Line, our nightly newsletter on life, leadership and wellness. Sign up here.

We tend to walk away from conversations underestimating how good of an impression we left on the other person.

  • Why it matters: Our perception of how well-liked we are by our co-workers nestles into our brains — and it affects everything from how good we feel about ourselves to how well we perform at our jobs.

Driving the news: In a new study published in the journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, researchers paired up conversation partners and then asked them how they felt they came off in that first interaction.

  • What they discovered was a "liking gap." People routinely underrated the first impressions they made.

They also found that the gap is widest after an initial conversation, but starts to shrink as people know each other longer.

  • This is because our first thoughts about how well we're liked may be based entirely on conjecture, but these thoughts might start to change as we see hard evidence from others as to how much they like us — think compliments, favors or gifts.

The big picture: Our thoughts about who likes us and how much influence our behavior, Erica Boothby, one of the researchers, told CNBC.

  • If we're confident in how we're perceived, we might be likelier to initiate plans with a new group of friends or raise our hands for a new opportunity at work.
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