Redemption VS Perfection: Second Impressions
A new day means a new you
Each new day comes with an opportunity to self-repair, rediscover, or re-invent yourself, or to just repair the damage done the day before. First impressions are one of those things that people say cannot be changed, and in the sense that it was the first time meeting someone it is true- you cannot un-meet someone and do it again. However, you can all but erase that impression with your next.
Take a closer look at yourself before leaving the house
It is important to take the time to consider one's self inside and out before even leaving the house. Addressing such things as the effect your appearance has, choosing the right words and the appropriate time to use them, your body language and expression can all lead to new doors opening up before you. You will find that others will make themselves readily available to you when they feel like you have made an effort to get to know them genuinely, and simultaneously you allow yourself the opportunity to improve upon the last impression you made. Together with common sense and a genuine desire to improve the quality of your relationships, the following tips should act as a guide to help you make the best impression the first, second, and even the third time around.
What to wear
Everyone is conscious of the fact that their appearance makes a statement about who they are. Some men try to disguise themselves in their clothing and cars, their jewelry and power ties, while others want to shock the world with a statement of individuality and non-conformity manifested in piercings, sleeves, and black make-up. Most men, however, are just so focused- even worried- about making some type of statement that we don’t grasp the full image we produce. Our view is skewed and out-of-focus, like hearing your voice on an answering machine.
The first major rule is to dress according to the event. If you finally landed a date with that beautiful woman from the 3rd floor of your apartment building, show her that your meeting is important to you. Don’t be afraid to wear a tie for a woman. She’ll think, “Wow, he really was looking forward to this.” It’s not being desperate, its respect and chivalry. Secondly, when you dress, make sure it’s appropriate for the venue or the company you will be keeping there. Do not dress according to the person’s value to you, rather how you would expect each other to dress. If in doubt, dress conservatively but bring a sports jacket, just in case.
Unless you are having a crunk juice brunch with the Three 6 Mafia at Flava Flav’s crib, don’t be flashy with your accessories and jewelry, rather keep it classy and subdued. Most men just don’t appreciate subtlety and it is a shame. Take a look at a couple things before you leave the house, a mental checklist. Your focal points will be the areas that are bound to come into contact with or be highly visible to others such as the colors and cleanliness of your clothing, your hair style, fingernails, shoes, your personal odor (whether cologne, aftershave or deodorant) and even the whites of your eyes. Don’t be too shy to buy some Visine, its not just for stoners- nothing looks worse than bloodshot, tired eyes.
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What to say
The words that come out of your mouth will be the second greatest evidence for or against you. We have only seconds before an opinion is formed about us regarding everything from intelligence and cultural exposure to our educational level and leadership abilities, based on the words we chose. Broadening your vocabulary wouldn’t hurt. Buy a serious novel, or the Amazon Kindle, and read when you’re on the john or before bed. If you have an iPhone or Android you can get books to read on your mobile and even play scrabble; attempt to do the word jumble puzzles in the paper.
When to talk
Many people talk out of nervousness, a desire to keep the conversation going, or even because they like to hear themselves. Don’t be that guy. Nobody likes him very much, and even if he seems liked, those people benefit from him or her in some way like Remora attaching themselves to sharks.
Remember that it isn't the quantity of your words but the quality. Instead speak when it is necessary, when you have something thought out and intelligible. And please, men- when you do speak, ENUNCIATE! I can’t say it enough. People get so tired of trying to understand a mumbler, then to have to say “Huh?” and “What?” every time you speak is grating on the nerves and makes you unpleasant to converse with. It’s okay to change your pitch and tone when you talk as long as it doesn't sound extreme or ‘canned’.
Also try to get comfortable with silence. It isn't all bad. When the interviewer is looking over your application the first instinct is to try to sum it up for him with how great you are in a nutshell, but that is the purpose of a resume or application. He wants to be able to study your dossier, so to speak. He wants to get to know you on paper (your stats) and then he wants to see you live and in living color. So let him read. And then talk, when you are invited.
Silence is not your enemy
It is perfectly okay to let a moment of silence into a conversation. Especially if the preceding conversation was fairly deep or personal. It shows that you are reflecting on what was said and gives evidence to a deeper mind.
Let’s say you are at dinner with a long awaited date, you run out of things to say to her. Let a moment of silence pass while you both breathe each other in. Have a sip of your beer; think that you can’t know everything there is about this woman. What is one of a million things you don't know and could ask? Family? Friends? Activities outdoors/ indoors? Exercise? Eating? Hobbies? Books/ movies? They are all important to her, so they should be to you as well. Use silence to collect your thoughts and consider what you say next, but don't allow silence to dominate- that will make things awkward and a second date will not happen.
When to shut up
Lastly, Men, you must understand other people vanities, they’re not so different from your own. Bill Lampton, Ph. D. quotes an anonymous writer saying,
“The definition of a bore is someone that talks about himself so much that you don’t get to talk about yourself.”
Be a listener; make the other person feel like the sun at the center of the little universe of your exchange. Other people, like ourselves, like to talk about themselves. It isn't conceit though; it is similar to the kind of pride a salesman has when he knows he is selling the best product available on the market. We all think we rule. And that’s good; it means we have a high self-worth and a positive state of mind. Let the other person see that when you talk, nod your head at points in his sentences, prompt her with encouraging statements like “Oh yeah?” and “Then what happened?” The person you are talking to will appreciate your attention because they felt it was worth listening to, otherwise they wouldn't have said it. You are just validating someone else’s assumption and that always earns you some points.
Make this occasion count- Improve your first impression the second time
Leading experts in psychology, literature and seminar hosting agree that we have a window of between seven and seventeen seconds before we can expect someone to have formed an opinion about us. So, maybe you screwed up the first time. Big deal. Think about a person you know and what comes to your mind’s eye first? When I do that, the images I see the most are of the last time I saw them. Those most recent images seem to burn themselves over any prior ones.
It may be that we have been endowed with this peculiar trait for a reason, perhaps to help facilitate our capacity for forgiveness, or to help us overcome fears instilled at earlier times in our lives. Regardless of the why, we know that it is present and we can use it to reinvent ourselves on a daily basis.
One day you'll be on your game when you run into that girl from work and she will not soon forget you. Man up, boys, take another crack at it. Find some common ground and be genuine. You'll do fine because you have it in you to be great, we all do. Call forward your reserves and make this next push your greatest push. If all else fails then b-s your way through it, you can't please everyone. Good luck, my friends.
Your Next Impression
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