When did someone underestimate your knowledge

Personal sympathy is underestimated: Do others like us more than we might think?

Contact with others usually begins with a conversation. Be it during an interview, getting to know new colleagues or participating in a workshop. People often find it difficult to assess after a conversation: How did I affect others? Should I have acted differently? Research shows: Often underestimate we rather how likable others find us (“Liking Gap”). That can damage cooperation.

The first impression has a meaning

First conversations, e.g. with new superiors or colleagues, can be pleasant and inspiring and meet needs for exchange, belonging, etc. At the same time, they offer potential for uncertainty and concern about the impression we make on others. Because from their first impression, people often quickly deduce the characteristics of their counterpart (e.g. skills and personality) and behave accordingly at the next meeting.

Do people correctly assess what impression they made?

So after a conversation, can we correctly assess what impression we made on the other? Often we do not get any direct feedback from conversation partners, but can only guess what they think of us. A group of researchers led by Erica J. Boothby (2018) and Adam M. Mastroianni (2021) therefore investigated this question.

The own sympathy is underestimated ("Liking Gap")

Their results show: Indeed underestimate People often see how much they are liked by others. The researchers referred to this effect as the “liking gap” - so to speak, the gap between the extent to which one is felt by others indeed is perceived as sympathetic and to the extent that you yourself supposed.

Across the most varied of situations and contexts, they found, for example, with strangers who exchanged ideas in teams of two for the first time, but also with students who got to know their roommates for a semester: After the first conversation, they thought the other had a worse one Get an impression of them when that actually happened.

Self-critical thoughts could explain this

Why is that? One explanation is as follows: During an initial conversation, people often focus on negative thoughts and self-critically evaluate their own behavior (“I could have done that differently”); We could project these thoughts onto our counterpart and accordingly assume that he * she thinks the same thing. Indeed, some evidence suggests this process.

(No) decrease over time

Is it always like that? One could assume that this 'false' perception diminishes over time - e.g. especially when people work together as a team for longer. However, this effect could even be found in (student) teams that worked on joint projects over a longer period of time - with possible consequences for cooperation: The more the participants thought that their team members liked them, the more willing they were (1st ) Asking them for help, (2) giving them honest feedback, and (3) working with them on other projects.

What can we take away from it?

The first (and later) impression has a meaning for us and others - but it is often better than we first think. With a good balance between courage and modesty, it may not always be necessary to worry too much about your own first impression; because it often seems better than expected. Instead, you could give the negative thoughts about your own behavior a break and tell someone else honestly what (positive) impression you have of him * her.

Boothby, E. J., Cooney, G., Sanstrom, G. M., & Clark, M. S. (2018). The linking gap in conversations: Do people like us more than we think? Psychological Science, 29, 1742-1756. https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797618783714
Mastroianni, A.M., Cooney, G., Boothby, E.J., & Reece, A.G. (2021). The liking gap in groups and teams. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 162, 109-122. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.obhdp.2020.10.013