Are You Making the Best First Impression? It Takes Just a Second...
First impressions are often formed after only 3 seconds. During this very short time the other person forms an opinion about who you are based on your appearance, body language, mannerisms, and how you are dressed.
Think about how many times per day you encounter a new person. Every interaction leads to you evaluating and being evaluated by another person. Once established a first impression is often difficult to change and can set the tone for the entire relationship or interaction. So, whether you are focusing on career advancement or maybe social or romantic expansion, it's important to know how to create a good first impression. We have compiled some basic tips to help you reach your goal.
San Francisco Cosmetic dentist Edward L. Loev, DMD has been in the business of helping people improve their “first impressions” for over 40 years. He often tells a story about when he was a young dentist beginning his career and in need of most of the services a young, professional business man requires when starting off. In this case he just happened to need insurance on his newly established dental practice and was approached at a class by a man with wrinkled clothes, scuffed shoes and a very stained a broken down smile. “This man could have been the best insurance broker in the world” says Dr. Loev “but based on his appearance and what appeared to be a lack of basic hygiene he couldn’t take him seriously or trust his judgement.” The two continued to talk and after a while a young, slightly cocky Dr. Loev told the man his feelings and that while he was enjoying their conversation he could not trust him based mostly on the way that he presented himself. They exchanged cards and went their separate ways. About 1 year later a very well dressed and manicured man appeared in Dr. Loev’s office requesting a meeting. Dr. Loev didn’t recognize him at first, his eyes and smile were bright, clothes pressed and shoes shiny (Dr. Love had just gotten out of the Navy, shiny shoes were very important). Once he realized who it was he was amazed. The two spoke and Dr. Loev couldn’t resist to ask what had happened. The broker, whose name happened to be Joe had been struggling to sell policies and build relationships with clients. He always figured that being good at his job and “knowing his stuff” was enough but after frequent rejection he started to hear Dr. Loev’s words in his head. He started off by making sure that his clothes and shoes presented well and then decided to visit his dentist. Together, they came up with a plan. It was a simple one start off with a good cleaning and then repair some of the broken down teeth. It had taken a few visits but it was done. And guess what? Joe had started selling policies and building his own client base and he wanted to show the man that had initially offended him the new him. After that Joe was Dr. Loev’s friend and insurance broker for the next 36 years until he retired.
Don’ be late
Things come up, we get busy but someone that you are meeting for the first time is not really interested in your "good excuse" for running late. If possible, plan to arrive a few minutes early for appointments and meetings. Make sure to try and account for possible delays in traffic or taking a wrong turn. Arriving early is much better that arriving late, hands down, and is the first step in creating a great first impression.” I try and schedule more time then I know that I will need per patient,” says Dr. Loev “so that I can make sure to be on time. I love to see the surprise that patients have on their face when I personally come out to the reception 5 minutes before their scheduled appointment to personally welcome them and escort them to my dental chair.”
Be Yourself, Relax
If you’re happy and you know it…so will the people you meet. If you are feeling unhappy, nervous or on edge, this can make the people that meet you ill at ease. Uncomfortable feelings are a sure way to create the wrong impression. Try and be calm and confident, so the other person will feel more at ease. Liking the person you are and the way you look go a long way toward making a great first impression.
Present Yourself Appropriately
Does physical appearance matter, YES! Of course it matters. A new person that you are meeting for the first time does not know you and your appearance is usually the first clue he or she has to go on. Most of us do not look like models but by putting our best foot or smile forward we can create a strong and positive first impression. Dress and act appropriately for the situation that you are in. If a picture is in fact worth a thousand words, make it a good one. Is your appearance saying the right things to help create the right first impression?
How are you dressed? You might have fantastic legs and look amazing in a little mini-skirt but wearing to a job interview might not give the right impression. Conversely, wearing a conservative suit to a dance club might not be your best bet. What is the appropriate dress for the meeting or occasion? What is the appropriate work attire for your business or desired business? Suit, blazer, casual? And ask yourself what the person you'll be meeting is likely to be wearing – if you are interviewing at a dot.com or music/video game start-up, a pinstripe business suit may not strike the right note! Fitting into the culture of where ever you are can make you feel more comfortable and in turn look more comfortable allowing you to make a better first impression.
For both career focused and social meetings, appropriate dress can vary greatly 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 grooming? Remember Joe, his clean and tidy appearance opened a door that had already been closed by his bad first impression. 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".
You are an individual!
Most people do not have to change or hide completely there special style or personality but in order to make a good first impression you do need to "fit in" to some degree. It’s all about maintaining a degree of appropriateness for the specific situation. If in a business setting, present yourself in attire that is appropriate to that specific business. If at a formal evening social event, wear appropriate evening attire not a pair of raggedy old jeans and flip-flops even if that is who you are.. express your individuality just make sure that that it’s is within the context of the specific situation you find yourself in.
A Winning Smile!
s the saying goes, "a smile is worth a thousand words." So there's nothing like using a healthy beautiful smile to create a good first impression. If you feel good about your smile you are more apt to show it off. San Francisco Cosmetic dentist Edward L. Loev, DMD used to laugh when he’d watch the before and after photos in magazines and on television programs until he started focusing more of his practice on cosmetic dentistry. “I initially thought that it was unfair to present the after patient with a makeover before the reveal. I found out that it wasn’t a makeover, it was confidence that made the changes. It’s amazing how much a new smile can change someone. A patient who came into the office looking almost homeless one day would return after the initial treatment, standing straighter, in nicer looking clothing with a new haircut and make-up.” 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."
Uncross those arms and stand up straight
Grandma used to say it “stand up straight!” and you rolled your eyes but she was right. When it comes to making the first impression, body language as well as appearance speaks much louder than words. 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 to feel better at ease.
We all get 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.
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. For instance, does he play golf? Does she work with a local charitable foundation?
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.