First impressions. Aren’t they the bain of most people’s lives? We all know that they shouldn’t matter in the grand scheme of things, but they always do, don’t they? Whether you’re hosting an event, attending someone else’s, or simply trying to build business relationships, you can bet those first impressions will stick fast. In fact, studies suggest it’s near enough impossible to break the boundaries set by the impression made in the first 7-30 seconds of meeting.
Of course, this works out well for some people. You know the ones; they seem to capture hearts the moment they say a simple ‘hello’, and master a room without even trying to. As a result, it seems that everything comes that bit easier for them. But, as hard as you try to study such individuals, you just can’t master the art of making a good impression the way they do. Instead, you stumble through life leaving negative ideas of yourself wherever you go. It causes trouble in both your personal and professional lives, and it’s been driving you up the wall for longer than you can remember.
You wouldn’t be alone in feeling this way. Some of us are all too aware of the reality that first impressions stick. Over time, these negative meetings can have a real impact on everything you do. In the worst case scenario, past bad impressions can even ripple into new acquaintances, leaving you with no chance.
The good news is, you don’t need to put up with this any longer. In fact, there are many ways for you to turn those first impressions around. Whether you have a networking event or dinner party to attend, read on to find out how you can impress from the very start.
Operate through a friend
In many ways, this is the best option for success when meeting new people. When a friend introduces you to someone new, it’s a little like being given a recommendation. If the person in question thinks highly of your friend, they’re more likely to turn to you with a warm and open attitude. And, that in turn can lead to a positive and lasting impression. So, don’t be afraid to ask the people who know and like you to do the introductions. You’ll find that your success levels are much higher this way, and that’s got to be a good thing. What’s more, having someone you know by your side can work wonders if you get nervous in situations like these. They’ll be able to lead the conversation based on their knowledge of the person in question. This avoids any potential faux pas and leaves you at ease to only join the conversation once you’ve grasped the person’s values and beliefs. In short; this is a good step all around, and one you should always take if you have the option.
Consider your body language
Whether you have a friend beside you or not, you should also consider your body language. Despite conflicting views about what creates the ‘first’ first impression, most agree that body language tops the list. So, getting this wrong is the worst sin of all. For one, you need to consider whether you hold yourself in a blocked or unfriendly way. Often, we do this as a defence mechanism without realizing. In new situations, we often hold ourselves in defensive ways. We block our bodies with crossed arms or locked hands. And, this never looks good or works in your favor. Equally, distracted or jittery body language can be off-putting. If you're playing with your trousers, for instance, the person you’re meeting may assume a lack of interest. Again, that’s bad news in a big way. Instead, consider the ways you can use body language to your advantage. As much as blocked positions can ruin a first impression, getting this right can work in your favor. Open and expansive gestures, for instance, help to put people at ease. Instead of crossing your arms, let them drop to your sides. Try, too, to show your palms often to display your open willingness. Eye contact is, of course, also crucial. If you want to go all out, it’s even worth mirroring the body language of the people around you. This is a standard method in business interviews. It creates an unconscious connection which could ensure a lasting relationship. These are two sides of the same coin which produce very different results. Make sure you win the coin toss by thinking about this throughout each meeting.
Avoid divisive fashion
After your body language, attention is sure to shift to the clothes you’re wearing. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that these also play a huge part here. Why else would we take so long attempting to pick out the perfect outfit? But, what is the ideal outfit when meeting someone new? In truth, it all depends on the situation. A business meeting, for instance, will require a professional outfit which shows you value your appearance. By comparison, wearing a suit to a social occasion would be a little strange. In this instance, it’s best to opt for an outfit which can’t be considered divisive either way. Plain tops are your absolute best bet, as they can’t turn anyone against you. By comparison, wearing clothing with slogans or words printed on it could be a mistake. Given that you don’t know the person you’re meeting, it’s all too easy to offend here. Instead, stick with simple options until you gain more knowledge.
Sort your smile
Smiles can lead to first impression problems in a whole load of ways. And, you need to address each of them if you’re to stand any chance at success. For one, your smile itself, or lack of, could be the thing which tips the scales. A smile is a crucial aspect of a first impression, and you need to make sure you always wear one. If you greet someone without smiling at them, it can be bad for a few different reasons. It may be that the person assumes a lack of interest or even a dislike on your part. And, nothing works to unravel first impressions more than imagining someone doesn’t like us. In fact, things couldn’t go much worse than this. So, even if you aren’t a ‘naturally’ smiley person, make sure to put the effort in here. Don’t think either, that a flicker of a smile when you first meet someone will be enough. You should also make an effort to stay engaged and smiling through the interaction. As your relationship develops, you can drop things like this. But, during a first conversation, you need to stay bright to avoid misunderstandings.
Of course, just plastering a smile on your face isn’t the only thing which matters. You also need to consider the condition of your gnashers. You could be the smiliest one in that room, but if your teeth are damaged, it’ll send an instant lousy impression. Admittedly, this isn’t usually a problem during social meetings. But, if you’re looking to build business associations, this is well worth considering. After all, why would anyone want to work with you if you can’t even keep on top of dental hygiene? If your teeth keep causing you issues, it’s past time you contacted a company like Fenton Family Dentistry who can help with everything from whitening to contouring. This is a step worth taking, even if you don’t think anyone’s noticed your gnashers up until now. You would be amazed at how much further you get in the first impression stakes when your smile is shiny white.
Don’t be too loud or too quiet
When it comes to first impressions, we all overcompensate. And, so we should. If you’re going to make an impression which lasts, you’ll need to exaggerate certain aspects of your personality. Otherwise, you’re sure to fade into insignificance. But, one thing you do need to watch out for is being either too loud or too quiet. Both can have a catastrophic impact on your success here. For one, entering a first meeting at the top of your voice is a significant mistake. Not only will you overwhelm the person you’re meeting, but you’ll give the impression you don’t listen. And, that can turn people off without a second of thought.
Equally, quiet individuals may be more liable to slide further into their shells in these situations. But, that can also lead to problems. Either you’ll fail to make an impression at all, or you’ll again give the impression of being uninterested. The person may assume you aren’t speaking because you don’t want to engage them in conversation. And, that’s obviously not a good impression to make. Instead, you need to find a middle ground. Be confident but not too much so. Don’t be afraid to speak, but give the other person a chance as well. In short; don’t be scared to be yourself. You’re sure to get along much better that way.