First impressions count. As the saying goes “You don't get a second chance at a first impression”. And it’s true. Humans are hardwired to make snap judgements – it’s an evolutionary instinct. In fact, these materialise within seven seconds of meeting someone! Early man lived in a much more physically threatening world where it was vital to be able to quickly work out whether a stranger was a friend or foe. And while first impressions these days are likely to be made in less ‘life or death’ situations, there are times when it’s important for people to think the best of us. Ensuring that people see the best of you from the beginning will not only make those relationships and interactions easier, but will also improve and expand your network. So if you're wondering how to make a good first impression, and why it's important to make a good first impression, keep reading.
Below we've shared five simple rules that will enable you to make a positive, lasting impression on someone and how this will improve your effective communication and relationships in the long term.
A smile goes a long way. Its important to remember that you are communicating with facial expressions as well as words and smiling demonstrates that you are friendly, approachable and open to engaging with others. It shows you are interested in the other person and what they are saying, allowing your own winning personality to shine through.
There is no simpler way of getting any relationship off to the best of starts than smiling. Making yourself and those around you feel better. Besides, who doesn't want to be met with a genuine smile?
For more on the science of smiling, read our blog: You're Never Fully Dressed Without A Smile.
2. Be Positive
Your attitude shows through in everything you do and is reflective of your emotions, desires and personality. It is something that others will easily pick up on and will greatly affect the way they perceive you.
A negative mindset will cause a negative first impression, no matter how talented or useful to the person you actually are. Project a positive outlook that reflects who you are and what you can contribute. People are attracted to confidence and want to know that they are in safe hands. From the very beginning you will be associated with positivity.
Before you enter the room, connect with your inner drive, your goals. The thing that’s making you want to do what you’re about to do. Picture yourself enjoying a positive outcome, take charge of what comes next.
An often forgotten and very important skill is listening. We all know that person who talks at length without allowing the other person to speak. Or when the other person finally does get a chance will disengage from the conversation, merely waiting for their turn to interject once again.
Giving someone your attention and being interested in what they have to say, shows them that they are worthy of your time and boosts their confidence around you. Every interaction is a chance to learn something new, about the person you are meeting and their field of expertise. However, being overly reticent and allowing the conversation to stagnate will also create a negative impression. It is important to balance out sharing your experiences and hearing others.
Active listening in conversations is an effective way of cultivating trust in conversations. Eye contact, reactive facial expressions and simple positive gestures, such as nodding, will show people you are engaged and interested in what they are saying.
Your new acquaintance deserves nothing less than 100% of your undivided attention.
4. Be Courteous
A large part of making a good first impression is about giving the impression you’re open and want to share yourself with others, that you are happy to welcome them into your world and into your story. People take an instant dislike to rudeness and it goes without saying that polite behaviour will go towards making that great first impression. Having good manners and being respectful of the person and what they are representing is vital to fostering good relationships.
Manners don't cost a penny. But can cost you a lot if you fail to demonstrate them.
In our fast paced and busy lives, moments of calm are always welcome. If you are relaxed and comfortable those around you will feel the same, making it easier to build a strong relationship. To do this successfully you’ll need to create a space that others want to come into. If you are nervous or unsettled, if you have a negative or self defeating refrain running through your head, then the space and energy you will be creating is unlikely to be that warm and welcoming. Let your body language become open, allow your speech to slow a little and listen to the response when you ask a question. Your voice should be as warm and welcoming as the smile and handshake you gave them when you first met. Read our blog to find out Why Honest And Open Communication Is Key To Getting Respect At Work. Ultimately you are trying to put people at ease around you and give them confidence in your abilities as well as yourself.
With practice and time these behaviours will become habit and without thinking about it you will instantly create that fantastic first impression which enables effective communication and great relationships to flourish. After all, the first thing we leave anyone with is a memory. So better to make it a good one. So whether you’re off to an interview, you’re the keynote speaker at an event or you’ve got a first date lined up, remember good communication is vital when it comes to making a powerful first impression.
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