Dale Carnegie said “There are four ways, and only four ways, in which we have contact with the world. We are evaluated and classified by these four contacts: What we do, How we look, What we say and How we say it.”
It takes just a quick glance, just three seconds, for someone to evaluate when you meet for the first time. In this short time, the other person forms an opinion based on your appearance, body language, demeanour, mannerisms and how you are dressed. With every new encounter, you are evaluated and yet another person’s impression of you is formed. These impressions can be nearly impossible to reverse or undo, making those first encounters extremely important, for they set the tone for all the relationships that follow. So, whether they are in your career or social life, it’s important to know how to create an impactful first impression.
OK, so you are now thinking that how people are bit rushed to judge?
If you’ve ever changed seats on a train or crossed the road to avoid someone, because there was something “not quite right about them”, you’ve used your ability to thin-slice. In that instance, you were probably aware of a gut instinct – you may have felt as if your sense of perception was heightened because there was the possibility of danger – but we thin-slice people in all kinds of situations, not just when we feel threatened.
The crucial first impression you create sends out a strong message to people you interact with. Appearances, body language and mannerisms send out visual signals allowing others to accept you or reject you.
Of course, there’s one secret of first impressions that matters to us more than any other: how to make a desired one. Although there’s little point embarking on a full-scale personality makeover here, there are few things to consider if you want to make a desired impression.
Making an Entrance
Your entry tells others how you expect to be treated.
Firstly be on time. Someone you are meeting for the first time is not interested in your “good excuse” for running late. Arriving early is much better that arriving late, hands down, and is the first step in creating a great first impression. Walk in without hesitation. Maintain the speed of walking as before. People who lack confidence, change gears and perform a small shuffle as they enter. Pause when entering a room. Stop briefly in the doorway to make your presence known. Even a slight pause ensures more control over the audience. A pause has a very powerful impact as it announces your presence nonverbally, provides you with an opportunity to look people in the eye and calmly size up the situation. You can set yourself apart with just the slightest pause.
People who communicate in an expressive, animated fashion tend to be liked more than difficult-to-read people even if they’re expressing something such as irritation. Because we’re more confident in our reading of them, they’re less of a threat.
Small Talk Goes a Long Way
Conversations are based on verbal give and take. It may help you to prepare questions you have for the person you are meeting for the first time beforehand. Or, take a few minutes to learn something about the person you meet before you get together. For instance, does he play golf? Does she work with a local charitable foundation? Is there anything that you know of that you have in common with the person you are meeting? If so, this can be a great way to open the conversation and keep it flowing.
Talk about Books you’ve read, films you’ve seen, mutual friends or enemies – the things we share create a powerful bond. It isn’t rational, but finding out that you share the same name as someone can create a sense of affection for that person. We’re even more likely to vote for someone if we think we have something in common.
Avoid sending wrong messages.
You are Sending out a Wrong Message If…
You start off with those ’Grammatically Insane Phrases’ like — What’s your ‘good’ name?; Stand too close; Don’t shake hands with women members of the team; Assume that a woman accompanying a client is his wife; Team black shoes with a brown belt or turn up in sneakers; or offer to pay when you are a guest.
If you are feeling uncomfortable and on edge, this can make the other person ill at ease and that’s a sure way to create a wrong impression. If you are calm and confident, the other person will feel more at ease, and have a solid foundation for making that first impression a good one.
Dress to Impress
The person you are meeting for the first time does not know you and your appearance is usually the first clue he or she has to go on. But it certainly does not mean you need to look like a model to create a strong and positive first impression. The key to a good impression is to present you appropriately.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and so the “picture” you first present says much about you to the person you are meeting. Is your appearance saying the right things to help create the right first impression?
Start with the way you dress. What is the appropriate dress for the meeting or occasion? In a business setting, what is the appropriate business attire? And ask yourself what the person you’ll be meeting is likely to wear – if your contact is in banking or financial industry, a bright colored business suit may not be the best attire.
And what about grooming? Clean and tidy appearance is appropriate for most business and social occasions. A haircut or shave, Clean and tidy clothes, apt make up, all make sure your grooming is appropriate and helps make you feel confident.
Just turn on the television without the volume and you will be surprised at how another person’s feelings are showcased through their body language and posturing. Imagine you were being videotaped every waking hour of your day. If you knew the camera was rolling, how would you stand, how would you get in and out of a car, how would you eat that bowl of soup or fast-food burger? Would you really put your feet up on the desk?
People communicate with their entire beings, not just their words. In fact, words account for only seven percent of the message and the remaining ninety-three percent is based on our visual presentation and our body language. It is a known fact that our body language and actions will be believed before the spoken word.
Almost everyone gets a little nervous when meeting someone for the first time, which can lead to nervous habits or sweaty palms. By being aware of your nervous habits, you can try to keep them in check. And controlling a nervous jitters or a nervous laugh will give you confidence and help the other person feel at ease.
People are assessing you in the following ways:
Posture: Leaning forward or backward? Standing straight or hunched over? Arms or legs crossed?
Body Movements: Rhythmic or intermittent? Body swaying or motionless? Smooth or erratic movements?
Eye Contact: Constant, fleeting, regular or irregular?
Breathing: Regular or irregular?
Muscle Tone: Are the facial muscles relaxed or tense? Observe the jaw muscles and the muscles around the eyes.
Quality of the Voice: Tempo…fast or slow? Loud or soft? Volume…soft, normal or loud? Is the pitch low, normal or high?
One modern manner worth mentioning is “turn off your mobile phone”. What first impression will you create if you are already speaking to someone other than the person you are meeting for the first time? Your new acquaintance deserves 100% of your attention. Anything less and you’ll create a less than good first impression.
A Winning Smile!
As the saying goes, “Smile and the world smiles too.” So there’s nothing like a smile to create a good first impression. A warm and confident smile will put both you and the other person at ease. So smiling is a winner when it comes to great first impressions.
A smile is like a masterpiece….it’s unique, priceless and everlasting.
You have just a few seconds to make a good first impression, so it’s worth giving each new encounter your best shot. Much of what you need to do to make a good impression is common sense. But with a little extra thought and preparation, you can make every first impression not just good but great.
“Your future is yet to be written. It is your life, take charge of it and become the most authentic, best version of yourself.” Gloria Starr