Have you seen someone and got that first impression that they were not friendly? Or have you ever met someone that was warm and inviting and you became friends with them immediately?
You judge a person the same way you judge a book, by its cover. Our parents and teachers told us not to, but it is what we do.
It is how we evolved. We needed to know who was trustworthy and who we needed to avoid.
The adage that you ‘only get one chance to make a first impression’ holds true now as it did generations ago. That one chance lasts less than ten seconds, and some theorise that first impression is only two seconds.
Like it or not, human beings make snap judgments about people they meet, even if it is for the first time. People start forming a picture of you in those opening moments.
Here I will be covering seven tricks to create a great first impression whether you are on a first date, job interview or work reception.
1. Confident body language
Let’s start with a statistic. 70% of communication is transmitted non-verbally, according to the University of Pennsylvania. That is body language. And only 23% is voice tone and inflexion, and 7% being your spoken words.
Earlier studies by Mehrabian suggested that 55% of communication is transmitted via body language.
If you are are meeting someone for the first time, you want to be comfortable with confident body language so you will need to practice it first to make the right first impression.
Numerous studies suggest that your body language not only influences your physiology but also the nature of the people around you.
If you have your arms crossed across your chest and your feet tapping nervously, you will be seen as timid and closed off.
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Effective body language goes beyond merely standing up straight and having a firm handshake – although those two things are fundamental. If you are are meeting someone for the first time, do it with an open posture.
That means arms are uncrossed with open hands to show that nothing is being kept hidden. Legs are parallel and not crossed. They may even be stretched apart.
The head will be upright or may be looking around. Eye contact is likely to be relaxed and prolonged.
Lean in closer to the person you are talking with to show you’re engaged in the conversation and actively listening. If you are usually expressive with your hand gestures to communicate, don’t hold back.
What behaviours should you avoid to make a good first impression? Refrain from blinking excessively, tapping, touching your face too often, placing objects in front of you, and standing or sitting too close to others.
Nonverbal cues make a compelling impact on the other person’s subconscious. So it is always beneficial to be aware of your posture and body language in general, but particularly when delivering a sales pitches or being interviewed.
Stand confidently, make eye contact, and when in doubt, take cues from the other person’s body language.
When making an initial judgement about someone, their facial expression is typically the first aspect that gets noticed. So it’s essential to appear both happy and engaged.
Your facial expressions influence people’s impression about whether or not you’re a “trustworthy” person.
These judgements are done instantly, after only 34 milliseconds of looking at your face. That according to research from Princeton University.
Want to be judged as trustworthy? Then, you need to smile. But if you have an angry-looking face it gets judged as untrustworthy.
Psychologist James McConnell, put it simply, “People who smile tend to manage and sell more effectively and raise happier children.” You can find other gems in his book Understanding Human Behavior.
3. Be on time
If you want to make a positive first impression, demonstrate that you’re respectful of the other people’s time by being on time. This applies to many situations. Whether that is a job interview, business appointment, coffee date or lecture.
Surveys frequently show that a lack of punctuality and being kept waiting nearly always feature in the top five of lists of gripes from potential employers.
If you tend to be late, then get up earlier to allow time to get ready. Or if you think travel may cause a delay, allow more time than you need to get there. If you are early, you can always use the extra time to prepare.
The take-home message is that being on time or early shows you are taking the other person seriously.
4. Use your tone
This is one you need practice beforehand. Unfortunately, a high-pitched voice is interpreted as nerves or childishness.
It has been shown that people perceive those who use a rising inflexion at the end of their sentences as less knowledgeable, no matter what they are saying.
Not sure if you’re guilty of this? Try recording yourself reading aloud. Whenever I do this, I am always stunned by the difference between what I think I sound like and what I actually do.
Having a higher pitched voice is beautiful. And if you learn to use it effectively, it can be a fantastic tool as long as you use it confidently.
Being Canadian, I have a tendency to talk quickly. But you might say I jabber! According to a study from Brigham Young University faster speakers are considered to be more confident.
Whatever speed you talk at, be sure to avoid using filler words. Typical filler words are “um,” “ah,” “like,” and other similar phrases. It shows hesitation and suggests nervousness.
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If you learn and use these four little magic words: “And how about you?”
It invites the other person to tell you about themselves and to go in the direction they’re most excited to go in. After all, most people are happy to talk about themselves.
5. Eye contact
Eye contact is an integral part of every successful conversation. When approaching someone for the first time, look them directly in the eye as you meet them. Avoid looking at the ground or past the person.
You don’t want to appear as too intimidating or creepy when you are staring at someone. But you don’t want to seem meek or shy with no eye contact at all.
As the conversation develops, to maintain the right level of eye contact without staring try to keep eye contact for 50% of the time while speaking and 70% of the time while listening.
If you make eye contact with someone say at the gym and you do it more than three times. Do not do it a fourth time without striking up a conversation or you will be the weird person at the gym or the office or wherever this is.
Also, if you are observing someone speaking or giving a lecture, go with the 70/30 rule. Look at the person for 70% of the time and look away for the remaining 30% of the time.
This is not an exact science, but having a guideline will help tremendously.
6. Appearance matters with a first impression
Appearances matter even more now in the days of social media. The images of the beautiful, the rich and the famous that we get bombarded with influence our definition of what is attractive.
It is important to dress to impress all the time. You can’t predict when you will meet somebody new and find yourself in the middle of a meaningful conversation.
More importantly, taking pride in your appearance helps you feel as confident as you should be at any given point in the day.
Back when I was a teenager, I had a friend who applied for a job at a grocery store. Kenny went for the interview wearing a button down shirt, cotton chino trousers and some polished leather loafers.
Now you can say that it is normal to look smarter because it was for an interview. However, that wasn’t unusual for Kenny. That was his look. Back then it was called preppy.
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But he wears the same attire whenever he is working. Whether he was stocking shelves, sweeping the back room or bagging groceries.
In fact, during his interview, walking around the store with the manager he had a temporary name badge. Dressed like that and chatting to the manager the other staff thought he was from head office.
The amount of respect he got from the other staff and customers was unreal. All down to the clothes making the person.
The thing was, he hadn’t turned eighteen yet!
7. Know what you are getting into
You wouldn’t wear a t-shirt to a meeting, and you wouldn’t wear a suit to a friends’ house to hang out. Always do your research. Figure out who’s going to be there and what the theme of the event will be.
That helps you prepare for potential conversation starters and dress for the occasion.
If your meeting is planned, you have plenty of opportunities to know lots about the business and/or person that you’re meeting with before you arrive.
Google provides an incredible insight into the company, their competition, their primary products, and any other relevant information before you even set foot in the building.
You may find How Badly Do You Want To Turn Your Dreams Into Reality an asset too.
Nowadays, LinkedIn is also an excellent place to check out who you’re meeting with and learn more about them as is the Charlie App.
This app uncovers information about the person you’re meeting with and sends you a summary with all the details.
Hope you found this post interesting, but these seven tricks will only be useful if you use them.
Creating a great first impression whether you are on a first date, job interview or work reception, will increase your likelihood of living an OUTSTANDING life. Time to get out in the world and make it happen.