Humans make judgments. Our brains evolved to make impulsive and instantaneous conclusions based on information from past experiences in order to take action quickly. Our judgements helped us avoid predators based on our surrounding details. It helped us avoid getting eaten.
The inmate ability to make quick judgments never left us. That’s why to this day, appearances matter. It may feel at times superficial but we still make snap judgements based on incomplete facts. We use snap judgements based on how a person looks, what they say and what they do. It’s instinctual.
Our judgemental nature may not be “fair” or even “PC” but its hardwired into our human brains. We can cry foul and as a society attempt to make rules and systems to eliminate hardwired thoughts that we don’t like. But at the end of the day, we should treat our judgemental minds for what they are, system-like games with rules. IE: Once you understand that appearances matter, you can exploit this rule to your advantage.
Let’s assume you’ve written a book on Virtual Reality. The book is based on extensive research, expert interviews and has sound conclusions on the technology and how the ecosystem will evolve moving forward. Additionally, assume that you work in some completely different field, something completely separate from the topic such as woodworking. And finally, lets assume that you didn’t ever attend a prestigious university, you have no “credentials” and have never written a public word about VR. The juxtaposition of these facts will lead the audience to make some critical judgments.
Based on appearances and snap judgements you are someone that has no background in this field, no record of thought showcasing an understanding of the topics and know external organization can lend credibility to your scholarly ability. Regardless of what you believe about yourself, you live in a shared reality and if the community doesn’t have any evidence that you are a VR expert they will struggle to take you at your word.
You have a mountain to climb to get people to actually read your book and take you seriously. The takeaway is that by not playing the judgement game you are vulnerable to snap judgments you make your task at hand much harder.
So what can you do to overcome these judgements?
Establish trust and engage your audience prior to the book launch on platforms like twitter, engaging the VR community on topics from your book. The goal is to establish a history that you are a knowledgable individual and overcome the appearance of ignorance. This is why there are book tour events.
The process of promoting yourself will also create serendipity by engaging knowledgable experts within your target audience that can lend you credibility to your expertise and the book.
Finally, you can showcase the publications and research materials used to produce the scholarly book you have written. It will count as a bonus in establishing trust if you use materials the target audience already knows and values as resources.
The bottom line is that the judgments humans make are an evolutionary tool that evolved to keep us safe. For the most part, judgements are useful but they don’t adapt or evolve to accommodate the changes in society. There is no escaping judgement. We do judge books by their covers no matter how much we like to think that we are above it.
Your appearance matters, your interactions matter, and your past as experienced through the eyes of your peers matters. To advance and rise above your peers its imperative to understand the rules of the game and exploit them to your advantage.