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How to Make a Good First Impression - Tips and Guides
The first impression may only be a furtive glance, but people form an instant opinion about you based on your demeanor, how you look, your body language, your mannerisms, your behaviour and how you are dressed. It is probably not fair, but this first glance appraisal gets 'set in stone' and can be very hard to reverse or undo. The opportunity to make a could first impression may be lost in the blink of an eye.
So making those first encounters count and have positive outcomes is extremely important. The first impression sets the tone for all the relationships that follows. It may not be love at first site but it could be he's a winner or she's a loser at first site and so it pays to understand how to make a good first impression. This article outlines the things to do, how to prepare and the things not to do.
Be on Time - Plan to arrive a few minutes early and allow for all the things that could delay you. Allow time for composing yourself and gathering you thoughts. If you are in a rush it will show and it broadcasts the impression that the meeting does not matter as much as the things that have delayed you.
Be Yourself, Be authentic, Be at Ease - You can try too hard, you can try to hide behind a mask and be someone else, perhaps what you think the person expects of you. If you are feeling on edge, uncomfortable and too nervous this can make the other person feel uncertain about you and this is guaranteed to create the wrong impression about you. If you are confident and calm, the other person will feel more relaxed and more confident in communicating with you. Both you and the other person will be striving to find common ground and leads to start exchanging information.
Present Yourself Appropriately - Physical appearance does matter. The person you are meeting will use what you wear as a sign of who you are. This sounds unreasonable but what else can they go on. They will scan your clothes and make a thorough assessment in one or two seconds. But don't go overboard. You don't need to look like a fashion model, but think about what they will expect and go that extra step to create a strong and positive first impression. As the expression goes 'a picture is worth a thousand words', and so the "picture" you present tells the person who you are meeting a lot about who think you are and how much you care about how you look. Dress wrongly or inappropriately and they will get the wrong impression; a good appearance create the right first impression about you.
Dress appropriately for the meeting or occasion? - Ask yourself ask what the person you'll be meeting is likely to wear or expects you to wear. If it is a formal business meeting wear a suit. If it is a less formal occasion be smart and casual. Always err of the side of gearing your clothes up a notch as there is less damage from being over-dressed than under-dressed.
Check your grooming - Clean, smart and tidy appearance is suitable for most social and business occasions, but make sure you have recent haircut and a shave, and that your hair is tidy. Wear neat and tidy make up, and a deodorant.
How much should you express your individuality? - You don't have to fully conform or hide your individuality. But at the start you need to been seen to "fit in" to some extent. So make sure your clothes and appearance are not too outrageous and save your individual opinion and wacky ideas until you and the other person know each other better.
The Smile of a Winner - There is nothing like a genuine smile to generate a good first impression and a response. This may be the first interchange you have with the other person - smile and the whole world smiles with you. It puts both you, and the other person, at ease straight away. It is almost impossible for the other person not to smile back so you generate and interchange. But don't be flippant or appear shallow and non-caring.
Be Open, Receptive and Confident - Your body language speaks far louder than words and discloses how you are really feeling beneath the cheesy grin of mask you are displaying. Use body language to signal your confidence, self-assurance and receptiveness the other persons ideas. Listen very attentively and show it. Stand tall, fully engage the other person, smile, make eye contact and greet the other person with a firm handshake or other personal gesture. Speak firmly and not too quietly to show your confidence and self assurance. Ask questions and make conversations in the domain of the other person. They will be impressed that you show you know details about them and their experience and pet topics. But don't be too obvious with this
Everyone gets nervous, especially when meeting someone for the first time - But you can learn to overcome this quickly so that the other person is unaware of this. If you do something that shows you are nervous - say something like " I was so looking forward and a little nervous to meet you" The other person will generally offer to ease your concerns
Small Talk works to Avoid the Pauses and Break the Ice - All conversations are based on give and take exchanges. Do your homework and learn as much about the other person as you can so that you have a full quiver of things to talk about. Look for things that you share or have in common.
Be Positive right from the Start - your attitude is shown by everything you do and what you say. Strive to project a positive attitude, even when you are nervous or are faced with criticism or negativity from the other person. Make positive contributions to the conversations always looking on the bright side and maintaining an upbeat manner with a smile or joke.
Be Courteous, Polite and Attentive - Show good manners and be polite, attentive and courteous while you engage with the other person. Have a thick skin and remain on your best behavior!
You literally have just a few minutes or seconds to make an impression and so make it a good one as you only have one chance. You can't ask for a replay and it is very hard to change the first impression that gets set in fast-set concrete. It takes some experience and a lot of effort to make it successful. Take time to prepare and think about how to make it work.
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© 2012 Dr. John Anderson