“First impressions matter. Experts say we size up new people in somewhere between 30 seconds and two minutes.”
That first impression counts! Face the facts; about 90% of the people you are going to meet at work or in a social environment are going to have a preconceived notion of what type of person you are. We as humans tend to stereotype people based on what they are wearing, who they know, or what they do for a living before we ever talk to them.
This isn’t fair and we all remember the adage, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” but it’s a hard truth.
Attracting like-minded people into your world means being honest with yourself as well as with those you are meeting for the first time. If you are scared of heights, don’t pretend that you are an experienced rock-climber. Just be honest! After all, your deceit will surely be uncovered and any trust you have built up will go straight out the window.
Tips for a Great First Impression
To help make sure you are always putting your best foot forward in any situation, here are a few tips to follow:
1. When you are meeting someone new, act as if you are simply meeting up with a good friend.
You are more likely to be who you really are if you look at a new person as if they are someone you are already comfortable with. There is no advantage in trying to impress someone by being anyone other than yourself.
2. Avoid correcting people’s mistakes when in a casual conversation.
Helping a co-worker avoid a big mistake on a project is admirable but you do not want to become the office know-it-all during your lunch hour.
3. Make sure that your body language is open and welcoming.
Avoid crossing your legs or arms as this shuts you off from others and looks defensive. Stand with your body facing the person with who you are speaking. Make eye contact with them, but don’t stare at them. This can be seen as a threat or a challenge. open body language makes you appear friendly and outgoing, and more people will be inclined to talk to you.
4. Stand up straight.
You don’t need to stand as if you had an iron pole down the back of your jacket, but don’t slouch. This can make you look, and feel, depressed. Good posture always make for a better first impression than slouching over like you are trying to hide from the world.
5. Keep a positive attitude and outlook.
Being pessimistic, or the voice of doom and gloom, will repel people away from you rather than attract them. However, you don’t want to be overly positive, which can give the impression that you are unrealistic or living in a fantasy world. Strike the right balance by being confident and self-assured.
6. Focus on the people around you and not what is going on in your head.
Be interested in what people are saying and doing around you to avoid appearing egotistical or self-centred This means really listening when someone is talking; understanding what they are actually saying, and not just waiting for them to breathe so you can get your own point across.
7. If you know on advance that you are going to meet a lot of new people, try to rehearse the event in your head.
In the movie Next with Nicholas Cage, the character could foresee quite a number of seconds into the future. Before he went up to meet the woman of his dreams, he rehearsed every possible way he could think of to meet her and make the best impression. While you don’t have such powers, you can rehearse ahead of time. This will help with any social anxiety you may have as well.
The bottom line to making a good first impression is to relax and be yourself. You may not be able to win over the whole world, but you will certainly be able to attract like-minded people and make a great first impression.
Recommended: Integrity: The Key to Getting What You Want