This story confirms one aspect of forming first impressions. We use first impressions as a filter and if we believe that someone doesn't like us, then we behave accordingly. We avoid this person and, thus, reinforce the distance and never really get to know the person. And talk about quick. I heard an image consultant recently note that the Millennial generation form first impressions in a second, that Generation X gives folks 30 seconds and Baby Boomers an entire minute.
So, depending upon who you are working with as mediator, your time in which to make a first impression goes from micro quick to a long full minute. You get to "create" your first impression in many ways including how you dress, your facial expression and other body language, and by your tone of voice. If you are already seated in a conference room - do you get up and shake hands? I encourage you to use this time well and remember that the impression you form about another could just be about a chair!