It’s human nature to judge someone on first glance, but this doesn’t mean humans are shallow. It’s more a survival instinct similar to animals being able to quickly sense danger around them. Our instincts paired with our ability to pick up on another person’s micro-expressions, such as if their arms are folded or if they’re frowning, allows us to quickly assess whether someone’s open to conversing or is closed off and disinterested.
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To impress and exude confidence you just need to be aware of how you’re perceived and ensure you’re giving off the right vibe both physically and verbally. So whether you’re meeting with a new boss or meeting a friend’s new partner for the first time, be sure to keep these tips in mind to make a great first impression.
1. Dress To Impress
Definitely think about how you want to be perceived when choosing what to wear to a first meeting. If you’re heading off to an interview you will want to showcase that you’d be great for the job, so choose a comfortable power suit in a neutral color. If you’re meeting your partner’s family for the first time, go with something conservative and fun. Remember that first impressions are memorable and your choice of clothing can induce different reactions in people. For example, wearing red is said to attract people more, and fitted clothing as compared to baggy clothing adds to a man’s masculinity.
2. Face It: Your Facial Expressions Matter
Smiling at someone shows that you’re open and kind. A study by the Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology showed that just by smiling you can be perceived in a more positive way and even seem more intelligent. Smiling is so easy, in fact it’s easier for your facial muscles to smile than to frown! If you’re already smiling when you first meet someone, whether it is a new friend, a new colleague, or a new classmate, they will automatically feel more at ease around you and be ready and willing to listen to what you have to say.
3. Avoid The Wet Fish Handshake
You know when you go to shake someone’s hand and it’s limp, barely touches yours, and is on the verge of being clammy? That’s the wet fish handshake in full force. Forbes notes seven different studies that show the importance of a good, solid handshake. These studies show that a proper handshake matters and can even determine the trustworthiness of the hand-shaker. The key to a strong handshake is to make the first move and follow through. Grasp their hand fully and be firm, shaking their hand up and down twice from the elbow, all while making eye contact.
4. Stand Tall And Open
You’ll notice a lot of non-verbal cues thus far in the list, and that’s because of the weight body language has in an interaction. Body language gives the first telling of what type of interaction two people are having and basically sets the mood. If you’re standing tall, with your arms uncrossed and your waist and feet facing the other person, you’re showing that you’re open and ready and giving them your full attention. On the other hand, if you’re slumped, not making eye contact, or have a general closed-off demeanor, you’ll seem disinterested and give a negative first impression.
5. Open Them Up With Conversation
Now is when the conversing begins. After appropriate salutations and kind greetings, get the conversation going. Always have a topic or two in the back of your mind to bring up should there be a lull in the conversation. Some people jump straight to the weather or sports, which are safe bets. But having a creative question that could spark an interesting conversation will help make you memorable. Just steer clear of sensitive topics where you may differ in opinion such as politics or religion.
6. Listen Intently And Remember
Asking questions to learn more about a person is a great way to impress them. Listen to their responses and stories and remember what they say so you can bring it up again later in conversation or at another meeting. Learning specific information about a person, such as their favorite restaurant or their pet’s name, and recalling it later shows that you really took the time to learn about them and listen. Also getting them to talk more about themselves will open them up and make them feel more at ease speaking with you. This makes the interaction more memorable and gives a great first impression.
7. Be Spatially Aware
Everyone has a bubble. This bubble is their personal space which you shouldn’t cross into except for the quick handshake upon first meeting. Take cues from the other person to tell how close to stand to them as well as how reactive to be. If they seem to have a very calm demeanor compared to your loud and chatty demeanor, perhaps tone down your actions slightly to not overwhelm them. This doesn’t mean you should change your personality completely, but it’s more about respecting their space and feelings and making them comfortable to be able to find the interaction enjoyable.
8. What You Say Matters, Too
You already know the importance of asking more about the other person to open them up. But you also need to be sure to give away a little information about yourself so you don’t seem too closed off. Share interesting information about yourself in a way that doesn’t seem like you’re showing off. Work it naturally into the conversation, perhaps bringing up a movie you saw recently or that you used to live in an interesting part of town. The gist is that you should be interested in them and be interesting to them.
9. Be Kind To Those Around You
This tip won’t work in all situations, but if you’re meeting with someone in a public place, it’s important to stand tall, smile, and be generally kind and courteous to everyone around you prior to, during and after the meeting. Upon approaching you the other person may notice your demeanor, and it shouldn’t change much when they’re standing in front of you. They will want to know that you’re kind to strangers, acquaintances and friends alike. If someone nearby is in need of help, excuse yourself from the conversation momentarily to offer assistance quickly.
10. Don’t Put On An Act
Lastly and probably most importantly, be yourself. If you’re not genuine other people will pick up on that, whether their instincts are telling them that you aren’t being completely open or perhaps you’re giving clues that show you’re holding back your true self. Remember, every person is different in some way, and that’s a good thing. You want to be seen as a memorable individual, one with their own personality who’s kind, polite and contributes to any conversation or situation. If you put all of the other tips together your natural self will shine through in a selfless and strong way. Trust in your ability to be your true self while making the best first impression.