We’ve all been there, a first date, a business interview, meeting new colleagues: first impressions are important. What factors affect a favorable first encounter? Here are 5 ways to make a great first impression.
First impressions are nothing more than the formation of a mental image upon meeting someone for the first time. This image is based on a variety of factors, including age, gender, appearance, posture, and communication methods. This initial judgment occurs in a split-second. To give you a visual of this minuscule amount of time, simply blink your eyes.
How a person looks and dresses is Immediately apparent when forming a first impression. External factors are what we notice first, forming either positive or negative judgments based on obvious outward characteristics. It’s easy to make assumptions about a person’s character based off their physical appearance, though future meetings may prove this inaccurate.
Do First Impressions Count?
Yes, first impressions definitely count, and taking the time to present yourself in a favorable light will pay off big time. First impressions stick and it takes time to counteract a negative one so keep in mind the following tips next time you meet someone for the first time.
How To Make A Great First Impression
1. Health, Fitness And Beauty
Unfortunately, initial impressions are formed by assessing how attractive a person is, how groomed they are, and the degree of self-confidence they possess. Underlying all these aspects is their level of health and fitness. It’s all part of the package a person portrays.
Although, you can’t change your height, complexion, facial features, or hair color, you can play to your assets, accentuating your good qualities. Pertinent information can be gleaned from a person’s appearance alone, especially when you don’t know them.
What is the message a sloppy, unkempt, and disheveled appearance sends? One of nonchalance and disrespect. Positive vibes are broadcast when someone is well groomed, polished, and possesses an air of self-confidence and self-respect.
I think it all goes back to the sentiment: “How you do one thing is how you do everything.” If a person values their health and personal appearance, they’re likely going to be on top of other fundamental aspects of their lives. A high degree of motivation, efficiency, and commitment in one area of life is most likely going to be reflected in other areas as well.
When meeting someone for the first time, be conscientious to every little detail of your presentation. Be impeccable in what your wear, your hygiene, and how you carry yourself. Bottom line: dress for success. Paint a picture of yourself as one who is polished and self-assured. Do this and your first impression will be one you can be proud of. Check out this book on body language if you want to learn more it. It’s pretty fascinating
2. Body Language And Personality
Body language is an extension of your appearance. It can either add or detract from it. Your appearance may be fastidious, but if your body language is stiff and formal, it’s not going to make a great first impression. A warm demeanor and accessibility is the name of the game. Consider paying a compliment to the person you’re first meeting. People will always remember how you made them feel. We all love compliments and the afterglow of your kind words will remain forever in their consciousness. They’ll then associate you with happy feelings.
Punctuality speaks volumes. It shows you’re responsible and dependable. Better yet, be a few minutes early for brownie points. Lay your clothes out the night before, paying attention to every detail, get a good night’s rest, and nourish yourself for optimal focus. Scout out the location of your meeting the night before so you don’t waste time frantically trying to finding it the morning of your meeting.
Exude positivity, eagerness, and a positive attitude. Non-verbal communication speaks just as loudly as verbal communication. Carry yourself with ease and composure. Make eye contact, smile warmly, and develop a firm handshake. Each of these gestures sends an unspoken message. Command respect by paying attention to the messages your body language is sending. Non-verbal communication gives those scrutinizing you a glimpse into your personality.
3. Communication Is Everything
How you communicate makes all the difference. Are you able to eloquently get your point across? How’s your grammar and vocabulary? Being well-spoken is the mark of an educated and classy person. Don’t speak too fast, and enunciate for optimal comprehension. Tangents are annoying so be sure to avoid any unnecessary garble. State what you want to say concisely so you’re easily understood.
Convey through words your positivity, warmth, excitement, and genuine interest. Converse about current affairs. This portrays you as someone interesting and in the know. Try not to mumble, talk loudly enough to be comfortably heard, and speak with purpose and intent.
And above all, listen! Don’t cut the other person off, impatiently waiting for your turn to speak. Upon meeting, it’s great to break the ice with casual conversation for a few minutes. Ask questions to show your curiosity about the other person, finding common ground between the two of you. Shared interests and activities can form an immediate bond.
Give your undivided attention, without interruption. Excel at conversation by speaking when appropriate, and listening the rest of the time. Focus on engagement, rather than trying to impress.
4. Improving Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence is the ability to empathize with others, seeing their point of view. Those who possess this type of intelligence are comfortable with themselves, while putting others at ease. They’re just plain easy to be around.
They can easily step out of their comfort zone because their sense of self is secure, and the confidence they’ve developed over the years. They’re not boastful or judgmental, and treat others as they want to be treated. They radiate warmth, affection, and acceptance, giving undivided attention when communicating with strangers, loved ones, or friends. Distraction isn’t part of their communication style. Collected, calm, and courteous, these stellar qualities rub off on all their associations.
Though intangible, emotional intelligence goes the distance. A high degree of emotional intelligence allows you to accept all aspects of yourself and others, resolving conflict as it happens, without feeling criticized or unfairly judged when things don’t go as planned.
Emotional maturity lets you see the big picture, not focusing on mundane things that don’t matter or fail to further your goals. Realists at heart, emotionally aware people see themselves as they truly are, no better and no worse. They respect their strengths and work on their weaknesses. Adaptability, resourcefulness, and capability are aspects of who they are. Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman is a great read.
5. Education And Productivity
Those who can speak on a variety of subjects are fun and invigorating to be around. Be one of these people. Transparency is heart-warming, making you easy to get to know and accessible. Can you get close to someone you don’t know?
Share, not only what you’ve learned academically and your accomplishments, but also what you’ve learned from the school of hard knocks. Everybody likes a well-rounded and authentic person. Be real about your experiences, and the lessons life’s trials have instilled in you.
Talk openly and candidly about your life. Share how you’ve come through hard times, and survived. Narrate how you’ve navigated the world, showing interest in the experiences of others. The conversation should be the perfect mix of give and take. Any hint of pride or ego upon first meeting someone is a turn off. Sharing your accomplishments is great, just do so without arrogance. Humility is endearing and draws people to us.
You only have one chance to make a first impression. Make it count by following these fives steps to ensure success. Pay close attention to your appearance and style, be cognizant of your body language and posture, make eye contact and focus on listening, while speaking slowly, confidently, and with purpose.
What characteristics do you think are most important for first impressions? Let me know in the comments:)
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