Making a Great First Impression!
It takes just a quick glance, maybe three seconds, for someone to evaluate you when you meet for the first time. In this short time, the other person forms an opinion about you based on your appearance, your body language, your demeanor, your mannerisms, and how you are dressed. People appraise your visual and behavioral appearance from head to toe. They even assess your grooming and accessories – watch, handbag, briefcase. Within only three seconds, you make an indelible impression. You may intrigue some and disenchant others.
Once the first impression is made, it is virtually irreversible.
The process works like this:
• If you appear to be of comparable business or social level, you are considered suitable for further interaction.
• If you appear to be of higher business or social status, you are admired and cultivated as a valuable contact.
• If you appear to be of lower business or social standing, you are tolerated but kept at arm’s length.
• If you are in an interview situation, you can either appear to match the corporate culture or not, ultimately affecting the outcome.
It is human nature to constantly make these appraisals, in business and social environments. You may hardly have said a word, however once this three-second evaluation is over, the content of your speech will not change it. When you make the best possible first impression, you have your audience in the palm of your hand. When you make a poor first impression, you lose your audience’s attention, no matter how hard you scramble to recover it.
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With every new encounter, you are evaluated and yet another person’s impression of you is formed. These first impression can be nearly impossible to reverse or undo, making those first encounters extremely important, for they set the tone for the all the relationships that follows.
So, whether they are in your career or social life, it’s important to know how to create a good first impression. This article provides some useful tips to help you do this.
Be on Time
The person you are meeting for the first time is not interested in your “good excuse” for running late. Plan to arrive a few minutes early. Arriving early is much better that arriving late, hands down, and is the first step in creating a great first impression.
Be Yourself, Be at Ease
If you are feeling uncomfortable and on edge, this can make the other person ill at ease and that’s a sure way to create the wrong impression. If you are calm and confident, so the other person will feel more at ease, and so have a solid foundation for making that first impression a good one.
Present Yourself Appropriately
Of course physical appearance matters. The person you are meeting for the first time does not know you and your appearance is usually the basis he or she has to go on.
But it certainly does not mean you need to look like a model to create a strong and positive first impression. (Unless you are interviewing with your local model agency, of course!)
No. The key to a good impression is to present yourself appropriately.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and so the “picture” you first present says much about you to the person you are meeting. Is your appearance saying the right things to help create the right first impression?
Start with the way you dress. What is the appropriate dress for the meeting or occasion? In a business setting, what is the appropriate business attire? Suit, blazer, casual? And ask yourself what the person you’ll be meeting is likely to wear – if your contact is in advertising or the music industry, a pinstripe business suit may not strike the right note!
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For business and social meetings, appropriate dress also varies between countries and cultures, so it’s something that you should pay particular attention to when in an unfamiliar setting or country. Make sure you know the traditions and norms.
And what about your personal grooming? Clean and tidy appearance is appropriate for most business and social occasions. A good haircut or shave. Clean and tidy clothes. Neat and tidy make up. Make sure your grooming is appropriate and helps make you feel “the part”.
Appropriate dressing and grooming help make a good first impression and also help you feel “the part”, and so feel more calm and confident. Add all of this up and you are well on your way to creating a good first impression.
The good news is you can usually create a good impression without total conformity or losing your individuality. Yes, to make a good first impression you do need to “fit in” to some degree. But it all goes back to being appropriate for the situation. If in a business setting, wear appropriate business attire. If at a formal evening social event, wear appropriate evening attire. And express your individuality appropriately within that context.
A Winning Smile!
“Smile and the world smiles too.” So there’s nothing like a smile to create a good first impression. A warm and confident smile will put both you and the other person at ease. So smiling is a winner when it comes to great first impressions. But don’t go overboard with this – people who take this too far can seem insincere and smarmy, or can be seen to be “lightweights”.
Be Open and Confident
When it comes to making the first impression, body language as well as appearance speaks much louder than words.
Use your body language to project appropriate confidence and self-assurance. Stand tall, smile (of course), make eye contact, greet with a firm handshake. All of this will help you project confidence and encourage both you and the other person feel better at ease.
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Almost everyone gets a little nervous when meeting someone for the first time, which can lead to nervous habits or sweaty palms. By being aware of your nervous habits, you can try to keep them in check. And controlling a nervous jitter or a nervous laugh will give you confidence and help the other person feel at ease.
Small Talk Goes a Long Way…
Conversations are based on verbal give and take. It may help you to prepare questions you have for the person you are meeting for the first time beforehand. Or, take a few minutes to learn something about the person you meet for the first time before you get together. Is there anything that you know of that you have in common with the person you are meeting? If so, this can be a great way to open the conversation and to keep it flowing.
Your attitude shows through in everything you do. Project a positive attitude, even in the face of criticism or in the case of nervousness. Strive to learn from your meeting and to contribute appropriately, maintaining an upbeat manner and a smile.
Be Courteous And Attentive
It goes without saying that good manners and polite, attentive and courteous behavior help make a good first impression. In fact, anything less can ruin the one chance you have at making that first impression. So be on your best behavior!
One modern manner worth mentioning is “turn off your mobile phone”. What first impression will you create if you are already speaking to someone other than the person you are meeting for the first time? Your new acquaintance deserves 100% of your attention. Anything less and you’ll create a less than good first impression.
You have just a few seconds to make a good first impression and it’s almost impossible ever to change it. So it’s worth giving each new encounter your best shot. Much of what you need to do to make a good impression is common sense. But with a little extra thought and preparation, you can hone your intuitive style and make every first impression not just good but great.
First impressions can be quite important.
Everyone stereotypes everyone on first impression, even if we are reluctant to do it.
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We all get a first impression of a new person that creates a mental image of his or her personality in our minds.
That image of you often lasts and can affect the relationship that follows.
Another thing is that we often play different roles in relationships. With our parents we play one role, with friends another, with someone we are interested in education, with second in work, in love with a third, when shopping for clothes in a store a fourth. And so on.
A good or great first impression can create a positive role in the minds of the new people we meet. When we meet them again, we are often drawn back into this role. Sometimes it happens almost unconsciously until you after a few minutes notice that you have fallen into your old role – like when you meet friends you haven´t seen in years – in that dynamic once again. You may not always be drawn into that role. But if you do it sure is better to have a positive than a negative role saved for you.
Here are some of the things I’ve learned about improving first impressions. Of course, different environments like business meetings with suits and ties or parties with umbrella-drinks come with different goals and expectations so figure out what´s appropriate and useful in each meeting.
Act as if you are meeting a good friend
If you just imagine that the person you have just met and are talking to is one of your best friends you’ll probably adjust unconsciously and start to smile, open up your body-language to a very friendly and warm position and reduce any nervousness or weirdness in your tone of voice and body-language. Don´t overdo it though, you might not want to hug and kiss right away.
The nice thing about this is that you may also start to feel positive feelings towards this new person, just as you do with your friend when you meet him/her. This is a pretty good starting-point for getting them to reciprocate and for developing a good relationship.
Keep you body language open
Smile. Don’t cross your arms or legs. Turn your body towards the people you’re are shaking hands with or talking to so that your body language is friendly and open. Make relaxed eye contact – don´t stare – when talking or listening. Don´t look the person in the eye all the time. When you break eye-contact try to do it kinda slow, don´t let your eyes just dart away. Making eye-contact can be a bit hard or scary but if you work at it you´ll get used to it.
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Stand up straight
Keeping a good posture certainly improves on the impression one makes. Don´t slouch. Sit or stand up straight.
Sometimes you can go in all positive in a first meeting. Sometimes it may not be the best approach to go in too positive as it can be seen as bit abrasive or inappropriate. A better way to convey a positive attitude in a first meeting can then be to read the mood of person(s) before you start talking – by just watching them – and then match it for a short while. Then – when you have an emotional connection and the other person feels you are similar to him/her – you can let your positivity arise a bit more.
Regardless if you start out positive from the get-go or a short, short while into the meeting, be sure to positive. If you, for instance, start a first meeting by complaining, there´s a big chance the people you meet will mentally label you as a complainer or a negative person.
Don’t think too much
Try, as much as possible, to stay outside of your head and focus on the people you are talking to rather than focusing on yourself.
Mentally rehearse before you even enter the room
Visualize how great the events will unfold – see and hear it – and also how great will you feel at this meeting.
See yourself smiling, being positive, open and having a great time. See the excellent outcome in your mind. Then release by visualizing that it has already happened, that the meeting is over with the desired result. This is surprisingly effective and will get you into a great and relaxed mood before even stepping into the first, second or twentieth meeting.
What you say isn´t that important
I´d say that mental rehearsal followed by acting as if you´re meeting a friend are the most important parts of all of this. They often solve the rest of pointers in this article unconsciously and automatically and keeps your thoughts focused outwards instead of inwards.
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The problem with an inward-focused meeting – where you focus on what you just said, how you look and what the other person thinks of you right now – can reduce anyone to a bumbling, second-guessing, fidgeting shadow of their former self as the self-consciousness becomes almost paralyzing.
Also, as long as you try to use the first and the last point it doesn’t really matter too much what word or phrase you use to start the conversation. The words are only 7 percent of your communication. 93 percent is in your tone of voice and your body-language.
So, a simple “Hi!” may do just fine.
Making a good first impression is important for building relationships with other people. In business, a positive first impression is crucial for forging profitable, sustainable, long-term partnerships to help build the business and keep it thriving.
Why is it, then, that I meet so many people in business and everyday life that seem to be clueless as to the importance of making a good first impression? Whether intentional or not, there is no excuse for blowing a first business meeting with someone.
The other party might not want to do business with you — it is part of the game, after all — but it shouldn’t be because you present yourself as a brute and make your organization look like a horde of cavemen.
Be it face-to-face, over the phone, via fax, e-mail or videoconference, it is very important to come across in a positive light, especially the first time around.
We’ve all met people that we instantly “like” and want to get to know more or do business with. Most of the time, these people follow a few basic rules that make their first impression a strong one. I’ve compiled a quick list of six easy tips you can use to make a strong first impression, each and every time.
First impression tips
Dress to impress
We’ve all heard this old saying, but it does hold a good amount of truth. Although today’s business environment is much more casual than it was even 10 years ago, it is still important to dress the part.
The key here is to dress modestly and appropriately for the gathering you will be attending. There is no need to wear the latest Versace suit, but do make sure that your clothing is clean and fits well. The last thing you want is to give off a negative impression before you even open your mouth. If you look sloppy, people will assume that you and your business are sloppy as well.
I cannot emphasize this point enough. Be sure to communicate clearly with the people you are meeting. Few things are more annoying than having to listen to someone without understanding what they are saying because they garble their words.
Focus on speaking at a moderate pace with a well-modulated voice. Do not be afraid to enunciate properly. Also, using proper grammar when speaking and avoiding slang is expected if you are to make a good first impression. Remember: If people can’t comprehend what you are saying, they will disregard you and your organization. Furthermore, be polite and courteous at all times.