What difference does five minutes make?

If the five minutes in question in the first five minutes of a conversation or meeting, it will make almost all the difference in determining whether or not you are successful in getting what you want from the encounter.

In the first five minutes, each of the people present decide:

  • What you want from the encounter
  • What attitude you will bring into the encounter
  • What your observations of the other person mean for your likelihood of success.
These three decisions now become the filter for all the information present in your encounter. You will notice expressions, attitudes or information that supports your expectations. You will likely miss information, attitudes or expressions that do not fit with your expectations. 

It's true that much of this happens much more quickly than the first five minutes. But the first five minutes gives us a unit of time that most of us can handle more comfortably consciously. We cannot always imagine that we have made up our minds in the first 3 seconds of an encounter (even if it is true). But we can entertain the possibility that the first five minutes gives us enough time to respond consciously and unconsciously in ways that set our expectations for the rest of an encounter.

Those five minutes are disproportionately important. They reward preparation. If you back up the time frame so that you prepare your attitude and your goal before you start the connection, you streamline the process and set yourself up to notice what you need to notice to get what you want.


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