First impressions leave a lasting memory
Did you know that seven seconds is the average length of time you have to make a first impression? In this short time, the other person forms a mental picture about you based on your overall appearance, your body language and mannerisms. That image of you often lasts and can affect the relationship that follows.
You don’t need to have comedic strengths or the ability to recite a Shakespeare soliloquy to leave a positive impact but there are a few tips that will help you create a good first impression.
The proverb goes “Do not judge a book by its cover,” but really, in this day and age, do we even have the time to delve deeply into a person’s psyche before making a decision? Your physical appearance can and will make an impact on how the world perceives you. Look polished and groomed, keep the unkempt look for home.
Use the other person’s name immediately
There is no sweeter sound than that of our own name. When you use the person’s name in conversation within your first seven seconds, you are sending a message that you value that person and are focused on them.
Act as if you are meeting a good friend
Picture that the person you are about to meet is one of your best friends and you’ll probably adjust unconsciously, smile, open up your body language to a very friendly and warm position and reduce any nervousness or pitch in your tone of voice. Don’t overdo it though; make sure you don’t encroach into their personal space.
Be engaging and listen
Demonstrate immediately that the other person, not you, is the centre of action and conversation. Nonverbally, you show you’re a skilled listener by maintaining steady eye contact. If you only focus on yourself you’ll miss opportunities for friendships, jobs and networking. Show that you’re not self-centred, and first-time acquaintances will be eager to see you again.
Mentally rehearse before you even enter the room
Visualise how the event/meeting will unfold, see yourself smiling, being positive, open and having a great time. See the positive outcome in your mind. This is surprisingly effective and will get you into a relaxed state before even stepping into the first, second or twentieth meeting.
Match your body language to your verbal message
A smile tells the person you’re meeting for the first time that you are glad to be in their presence. Eye contact says you are paying attention and are interested in what is being said. Use as many signals as you can to look interested and interesting.
Every time you walk out of your house, be ready to make a powerful first impression.
Words: Priscilla Poon