First impressions are highly important whether you’re on a date, going to a job interview or meeting your partner’s parents for the first time. Countless studies have demonstrated the long-lasting impact of first impressions, and how difficult it is to change our opinion on someone or something once our mind is made up.
This is not a bad thing always necessary – in fact it is necessary for survival as it enables us to quickly make snap judgements about things based on relatively little information in order to make the best decisions where more data is not forthcoming. What is does mean though is that if you want to do well in life, you need to work on making sure that that first impression you make is a good one.
Of course how best to make a good first impression will depend partly on the person and situation that you are trying to impress yourself upon. If you’re trying out for a football team then you need to use very different strategies than you do if you’re meeting your partner’s parents. That said, there are still some relatively universal ways to make your first impression a good one. Here we will look at what those are.
While your clothes can be easily changed, you can’t change your skin hair and nails and these are going to be consistent throughout situations where you are introducing yourself. Thus it is important to ensure that they look their best so include a manicure, whitening toothpaste, some exfoliating and maybe even a bit of self tan in your daily routine. All of it will help you to give off the impression that you are healthy, successful and able to take care of yourself – grubby fingernails and long nose hairs are what we associate with tramps, drunks and old men.
Of course your clothes will also make an impression, and it never hurts to be as smart as the occasion allows for. For guys an easy way to do this is to throw a nice jacket over their shirt or t-shirt, while for women a nice skirt or dress. Always remember too to pay close attention to the shoes you choose and your watch. These are the little touches that people will look to when deciding whether your sheen is more than surface deep.
A good thing to do whenever you meet someone is to smile broadly and confidently. This shows you mean well and are good spirited and it will also cause a reaction in them (thanks to what are known as ‘mirror neurons’) which makes them feel happier to. They will associate this happiness with seeing you and you will be remembered as a positive encounter.
Shaking hands, particularly for men, is another important way to create a good impression. The secret is to make sure you have a powerful handshake as this suggests confidence and trustworthiness – few things can create a bad impression like a weak handshake.
The real secret to a good first impression is to come across as confident. You don’t need to ooze it and a little bit of nerves might even suggest that you are taking the situation seriously. However if you generally show that you aren’t too worried and are able to make assured and witty conversation then this will make people feel at ease in your company while also suggesting that you have something of value to offer. A quick way to at least appear more confident is to practise speaking slightly more slowly than you might normally (particularly as you are likely to be speaking faster when you are in nervous situations) and to improve your posture.
To be a hit with people you also need to be a good guy – you don’t want to come across as too slick and rehearsed so make sure to lighten the tone with a little self-deprecating humour, to ask interested questions and to listen carefully when other people are talking. Laughing at people’s jokes is also a good way to win friends.
As long as it doesn’t come off as ass-kissing, paying someone a compliment is a great way to ingratiate yourself. This is because you will again associate yourself with positive emotions, but also because it takes a certain amount of confidence to pay someone a compliment. To make it go down even better, try and give a non-obvious and very personal specific compliment that demonstrates you’ve been paying attention and are observant. If you’re at an interview then the compliment could be about the working environment or about the business itself – not necessarily the interviewer (which can make you come off as a bit of a creep).